“The excruciating pain we are experiencing is largely self-inflicted…. we became complacent to a point where we believed our own propaganda that we will rule for eternity. We falsely believed that South Africans owed us their votes and they have no other choice but to vote for the ANC – a fallacious belief indeed!”
Then he gets to his critique of the ANC, saying it is “riddled with all the wrong and alien tendencies of institutionalised factionalism, crippling divisions, spiralling ill-discipline, despicable arrogance and inexplicable denialism”.
He continues: “We have steered off-course and are not just heading (for) – but the ANC ship is in – stormy waters! Simply put: we are in deep trouble! We are in disarray and unless we change course, we are headed for a calamity of unprecedented proportion.”
Many people want to know if the ANC can still be saved after everything that has been happening in and around it in recent months. To have a prominent leader persist in uttering the words above, even after being slapped on the wrist over and over again whenever he does this, is a good indication that we’re nearing a time when something will have to give in order to usher the ANC into the next phase of its existence.
Steps the ANC must take to salvage the party
In my view, the party has to do the following to be saved:
1. Urgently elect new, credible, leaders;
2. Redefine its values, what it stands for and, crucially, what it wants to be remembered for;
3. Recommit to respect the constitution of South Africa and all related democratic institutions;
4. Take an unambiguous stance against corruption and act transparently when any of its leaders (at all levels) get involved in corrupt behaviour;
5. Recommit to acknowledging South Africa as a diverse country in which all South Africans belong and must be allowed opportunities to grow and succeed in their chosen area of endeavour, irrespective of ethnic, racial or religious background;
6. Respect the need to have only competent, values-driven professionals run state-owned entities in line with proper governance and accountability principles;
7. Put the country and its people first;
8. Draw a clear separation between party and state; and
9. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for next one.
Still room for the ANC
I believe that there is still room for the ANC to play a role in the continued development of South Africa. Our political space would be too empty without it. But it cannot play its part constructively in the evolving socio-political environment if it fails to acknowledge that too much wrong has been said and done in its name; too much pain has been inflicted and renewed fear installed in the minds of many South Africans.
The spectre of what the ANC is capable of when faced with possible election losses is too frightening to behold. It evokes examples from elsewhere on the continent that none of us would like to see repeated in South Africa.
Struggle just history to those born in the mid-1990s
The younger generation of South Africans who were born after the end of apartheid do not share the same fond memories of the ANC that their parents have, especially the children of those South Africans who were on the bitter receiving end of apartheid.
The positive memories they have of Nelson Mandela come mostly from recordings, parental anecdotes and annual campaigns to honour him. They were either still babies or too young when Mandela was active in our politics. The ANC they know is one that is led by the current leadership, with all the negative associations linked to them. If they have to look left, all they will see is red, no longer green black and gold. They want to live in a country they share as equal humans with other young people they’re growing up with, kids from a variety of South African backgrounds.
The anger we see targeted towards the ANC by many friends of my generation is a result of perceived betrayal. It is the spectre of the dream deferred; the fear that South Africa could easily become like other states that failed in Africa because of bad, greedy and kleptocratic leaders who seem to believe that only they must remain in power for all time.
The ANC cannot be saved – and it should not be saved – if it continues to refuse acknowledging that the country we all signed up for at the dawn of our democracy is one governed by values and law-driven people within our strong democratic institutions. We need strong institutions; not strong men and women in their stead.
To survive its current turmoil, the ANC must:
10. Make room for leaders like Paul Mashatile, Parks Tau, and others like them to show it the way. Or else it will be lost forever.