ANC constrained and restrained to govern

2015-10-09 18:56

At the 4th National General Council of the ANC, themed "The year of the Freedom Charter and unity in action to advance economic freedom", President Jacob Zuma opened the Council with an ANC political report looking at mid-term review of the inter-party issues with strong examination of how far has government implemented the policies adopted in various policy conferences.

In his speech Zuma acknowledged the significance of the ANC conferences as the ANC is in government, saying, "ANC conferences are important beyond the confines of our movement, because the ANC leads society and ANC policies affect millions of South Africans." This is a very important an acknowledgement as the ANC's flu can be contagious to the rest of the country and the SADC region in particular.

In his report, Zuma came across as leading an organization crying for renewal. At the centre of the political report what comes across is that the ANC leadership structures are weak and prone to be jacked by opportunists and other ill meaning elements who lack the ideological understanding of what the ANC really is. The essence of Zuma's report was similar to the one delivered by ANC former president Thabo Mbeki who too lamented the "bad cadre" the ANC was attracting due to its proximity to public funds.

Taking stock of the inner workings of the party, from the Zuma report to the organizational report of its NEC compiled by Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, at the heart of laments, delays, denouncement, self congratulatory is a party that sorely needed the exercise it is embarking on - looking inwards and self criticize itself without fear or favor. It is bold to self criticize and do the SWAT analysis needed.

The ANC comes across with evidence as a party psychologically locked in negotiations mindset about everything. It has not managed to fully transcend itself into a governing political party with all ANC officials referring to it as a movement more. This keeps the ANC in a mentality of a pure NGO relying on government and civil society to move. On the other hand, the ANC is government, it is also a civil society organization and a powerful political force, however it has not been able to articulate itself out of the prism of how liberation movements go about doing things. This could also be a matter of the ANC's communitarianism foundations.

In governance the ANC has not fully claimed the popular capital it has been given time and time and again by its voters. Instead we have a party that negotiates to govern and is overly democratic to the sense of paralysis at times and people are now aware of this and special interest groups take advantage of it. Decisions that get made take time to implement due to this "arrest by the Codesa moments", the ANC has kept itself constrained by. Whilst during the Codesa talks, negotiating was a good policy, the ANC never left that prism. When people vote they vote for a government that is to govern and not negotiate to govern.

The delay on many policy implementation matters is rooted on a constrained ANC that is even willing to tacitly appear to be defying its bosses, the ANC branches, from implementing approved policy positions. Oftentimes it appears as tough State stability and keeping all happy occupies ANC leaders more than making tough decisions.

As is, the ANC is to negotiate to implement the NDP. It is to negotiate to implement ANA in our schools. It negotiates to remove bad apples from its ranks. It negotiates to sign into law approved legislation on various matters. It negotiates to stop racism. There is no reason for these negotiations. The average 64% support the ANC has received from people has equated to a group of mainly old men negotiating their way through everything and seeking consensus on matters relating to executive action.

The ANC was to have had the Post Office Bank run in a manner that develops people and get the unbanked into the system. It has not done so allowing Capitec Bank with space whilst the likes of Tito Mboweni go back to teaching instead of building such organizations and creating a serious pan African bank through the Post Office. There are many other examples from State Pharma to State Mining Company, land and others.

The NGC need not only do an audit of what the public representatives have achieved but on why they continue to squander political capital through a persistent lack of chutzpah.

There is a need to keep the traditions of collective leadership and consensus building, however after voters have endorses and given their political capital in the care of the ANC, it ought to be clear what the will of the majority says.

Another topical matter at the NGC is public corruption. The discussions are strong on punitive measures and the denouncing of corruption including suggestions of giving more powers to the party's Integrity Commission.

What overzealous anti corruption measures tend to achieve is the opposite of what they aim. Bottlenecks and double checking triple checking the double check and delays including a constrained public service scared to make decisions for fear of being caught in a normal mistake that could be seen as corruption.

The ANC must unshackle itself from the negotiating prism to succeed. Just Govern.

Bongani Mbindwane on twitter @mbindwane

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