The ANC – Still a Liberation Movement?

2017-04-07 08:46

I woke up last Friday morning with a very hung-over/depressed feeling – I’d been awake after midnight and heard the news of Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle – the real “bomb”, of course, being the firing of Pravin Gordhan, our Minister of Finance, and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. Had it been a nightmare, I anxiously thought to myself? No, the 06h30 TV newscast confirmed that it was all true – JZ had fired our highly competent and internationally-respected Minister of Finance and in so doing had condemned our country to being downgraded to (sovereign) junk status and, with that, had also dashed the hopes of millions of the nation’s poor of working their way out of poverty in the foreseeable future.

The national outrage to JZ’s actions came fast and furious – and it came from all quarters! Apart from the obvious criticism from the opposition parties, it came from the so-called “ANC stalwarts” and even from some senior ANC office-bearers! I naively hoped that this would surely bring about changes within the ANC leadership structure.

But no sooner had this apparent “palace revolt” begun, than it was firmly snuffed out.

Discipline had been restored – I imagined the calls of “long live the King!” Those senior ANC members who had broken ranks in criticising JZ were soon apologising for having done so (with their jobs still intact, for now) and once again the public was shown the united, uncompromising, front of the ANC.

I asked myself – how does this happen? How does one create such unwavering loyalty to a political leadership that appears determined to achieve certain ends, regardless of the damaging repercussions to the country?

I gave it much thought and concluded that it was because the ANC essentially still exists as a liberation movement, and not so much as a political party.

As a liberation movement, its structures are rigid and secure, just like any military organisation. As a liberation movement, it creates an environment in which disobedience from the ranks is treated as something akin to a mutiny – disobedience that needs to be quashed immediately!

I also don’t believe that the ANC tries to hide its liberation movement identity – MK veterans, in camouflage gear, are seen at virtually all ANC functions; it still uses the term, “cadre”; and it proudly still states that it’s Africa’s oldest liberation movement – its liberation struggle roots therefore run deep!

It’s therefore clear to me that whilst the ANC continues to conduct itself in this manner, it will continue to rein its members in from breaking ranks, and the dictates of its senior leadership will continue to prevail.

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