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

African Times - - Front Page - Mole­batsi Masedi is a rad­i­cal so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion ac­tivist based in Polok­wane, Lim­popo, though he comes from Ga-Mod­jadji, Tza­neen. Twit­ter: @ Mole­bat­siMasedi

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.

Pic­ture: Den­vor de Wee/ Vis­ual Buzz SA

NEW TEAM: The new top six elected at the ANC con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

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