Nasrec and the ANC gift of unity
The ANC emerged from conference united and stronger, just what the people of South Africa asked for, writes Molebatsi Masedi
THE much awaited ANC elective conference has come and gone. According to media and commentators in the build up to conference, there would be blood on the floor and chairs would fly like it happened at the Eastern Cape provincial conference – that is if the conference could take place.
As we now all know, despite the delays over credentials, conference got off to a blistering start and went on to conclude its business of considering and adopting reports. Far reaching resolutions were also adopted.
What will be remembered for years to come about this conference, is the leadership collective delegates elected to lead the ANC for the next five years. Erstwhile deputy president Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa emerged as the new president of the organisation. His rival, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, lost by a whisker.
The new leadership is an equal accommodation of those who supported Dlamini-Zuma and those for Ramaphosa. In the top six officials, the leadership preferences are evenly balanced. Dlamini-Zuma trustees Dr Elias Sekgobelo “Ace” Magashule and Jessie Yasmin Duarte are secretary general and deputy respectively.
The equal balance is carried to the 80-strong additional members to the national executive committee. There was no outright winner or loser like in Polokwane in 2007 and Mangaung in 2012. In the words of Ramaphosa in Kwa-Zulu Natal on Monday, there was no individual winner or individual loser, only the ANC was the winner.
Ramaphosa echoed the message by delegates who gathered for a week at the Nasrec exhibition centre in Johannesburg for the ANC 54th national conference. They rejected the politics of slates and winner takes all, in favour of unity and cohesion.
Nasrec gifted the ANC and South Africa unity to enable the consolidation of the liberation and democracy project started by Nelson Mandela in 1994, when he was inaugurated as the country’s first democratically elected president.
At the time of the conference the organisation faced an ignominious end to its 105 years glorious history of unbroken struggle. Everybody, including its leading lights, saw Nasrec as the point of no right.
The opposition parties rubbed their hands in glee, the end of the ANC was nigh. What successive apartheid governments failed to achieve over many years, the ANC would visit upon itself. The ANC was tearing itself apart, the revolution was devouring its children in the worst manifestation of infanticide.
Nasrec would be the grand finale of this ignominy. Former deputy president of the ANC and one of its few remaining voices of reason, Kgalema Motlanthe, declared publicly that he wouldn’t attend the conference, or would it be the funeral. I reckoned he couldn’t stand the possible humiliating end of history.
Kgalema attended the conference though. The conference ended well with resolutions adopted and a leadership elected to equal the current challenges.
Surviving Nasrec was the daunting hurdle that the ANC overcame. The organisation is now home and dry. Opposition parties are in a quandary. The ANC emerged out of conference united and stronger, just what the people of South Africa asked for. As for the DA and its allies, 2019 holds bleak electoral prospects for them.
But then the ANC with Ramaphosa at the helm hasn’t yet turned the corner. Many challenges await the organisation as it braces itself for the watershed 2019 general elections.
The first major challenge that awaits the organisation is the challenge of unity. Of course Nasrec was a major boost to unity with a leadership reflecting all preferences. A lot still remains to be done to fully glue together the disparate forces that slugged it out ahead and at conference.
There is the matter of the elephant in the room too – President Jacob Zuma and the prospects of two centres of power, one centre at Inkosi Albert Luthuli House and another at Mahlamba Ndlofu, the Pretoria official residence of the State President of the Republic of South Africa.
Those who backed Ramaphosa, like Ronald Lamola and Derek Hanekom, obsess with the recall or resignation of President Zuma. Unlike Thabo Mbeki in 2008 when he was recalled, Zuma commands a huge support in the new national executive committee and the organisation in general.
There will therefore be dire consequences in the event of his malicious recall.
Ramaphosa and his collective must tread carefully on the President Zuma matter. Its mishandling will have dire consequences for the organisation in its quest for unity, rebuilding and renewal. To keep the organisation intact, Ramaphosa may have to disappoint the hyenas baying for Zuma’s blood and find a respectable exit for the latter like it happened with Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe recently.
Far reaching resolutions at the heart of radical socio-economic transformation have been adopted as the minimum programme for Ramaphosa and his team to implement. As Dlamini-Zuma has consistently said, it is radical economic transformation, now or never. These are land appropriation without compensation and the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank.
The unity and cohesion of the organisation remain sacrosanct and paramount, not only for an overwhelming electoral victory in 2019, but to also gather strength to be the leader of the South African society and the African continent. A divided and weak ANC doesn’t bode well for the party, country and the continent.
Unity and cohesion are therefore a must.
Nasrec has given the ANC the gift of unity to renew itself and return to the glory that had it being one with the people.
The period between now and the next state of the nation address is crucial for the ANC as it goes towards to the last lap to unity and cohesion. Will President Zuma deliver the state of the nation address or will it be Ramaphosa in his new capacity as State President of the Republic of South Africa after the recall or resignation of the former.
The ANC is skating on thin ice, sooner or later something has to give. What compounds the situation is silence and indecision over the future of President Zuma. Everybody, bar the ANC, is talking about him and how he must be recalled or resign. He will on this day, on that day and every day resign or be recalled, but nothing comes off these predictions of his expedient demise.
What fate awaits the country with the ANC at the helm beyond the weekend of 106 years anniversary celebrations in East London, Eastern Cape province? Will it be the fate chronicled in the closing lines of W.B Yeats poem, Second Coming, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlem to be born.
NEW TEAM: The new top six elected at the ANC conference in December.