Pan­der­ing to pop­ulism be­trays the ANC’s val­ues

CityPress - - Voices - Jessie Duarte voices@city­press.co.za

The ANC has, since its in­cep­tion, been rooted in the prin­ci­ple of par­tic­i­pa­tory democ­racy. It is a prin­ci­ple that guides the work­ings of the or­gan­i­sa­tion – and guides us as the gov­ern­ing party of South Africa.

Our mem­bers – and the cit­i­zens of South Africa – are the heart­beat of the ANC. We have al­ways taken into con­sid­er­a­tion all is­sues raised through the rel­e­vant struc­tures, and will con­tinue to do so. We have no in­ten­tion of aban­don­ing the vi­brant demo­cratic cul­ture that has de­fined our or­gan­i­sa­tion since 1912.

It is be­cause of this demo­cratic cul­ture that the ANC has re­mained a po­lit­i­cal party that en­cour­ages open­ness, frank dis­cus­sion and tol­er­ance of a mul­ti­plic­ity of views, dis­sent­ing or oth­er­wise.

Since the lat­ter part of 2015, we have been engaged in an ex­ten­sive, thor­ough and in­clu­sive process of can­di­date se­lec­tion ahead of mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions. This has pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for mem­bers of the ANC, along with our con­stituents in com­mu­ni­ties, to elect coun­cil­lors through an open, demo­cratic process.

It is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge that the can­di­date se­lec­tion process, or the “lists process”, has – in the main – been a suc­cess. At the con­clu­sion of the Na­tional List Con­fer­ence last month, 9 300 can­di­dates were sub­mit­ted to the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.

Although it is com­mon knowl­edge that there have been cases in which some mem­bers were dis­sat­is­fied with the out­come – and they have ex­pressed their dis­sat­is­fac­tion, in­ter alia, through demon­stra­tions and rep­re­sen­ta­tions made to the ANC’s na­tional of­fices – the in­tegrity of the process is in­dis­putable.

Th­ese dis­putes were in the mi­nor­ity: they re­ceived coverage in the me­dia and on other plat­forms that was wholly dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the num­bers in­volved, which led to an un­for­tu­nate im­pres­sion be­ing cre­ated.

The is­sue of rep­re­sen­ta­tion on party can­di­date lists is also a vic­tory for the ANC’s demo­cratic in­ter­nal cul­ture.

Firstly, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pol­icy ob­jec­tive holds that 50% of our pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives should be women.

Se­condly, a min­i­mum of 60% of in­cum­bent coun­cil­lors must be re­tained, in terms of a 2015 na­tional gen­eral coun­cil res­o­lu­tion. This has sig­nif­i­cant con­sid­er­a­tions with re­gard to in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory and con­ti­nu­ity.

Thirdly, a min­i­mum of 20% of our can­di­dates must be young peo­ple – this to in­tro­duce a gen­er­a­tional mix and de­velop fu­ture lead­ers.

To ad­here to the pre­scribed tar­gets, it was at times nec­es­sary to re­order the lists.

The ANC should be lauded for its ef­forts to ex­pe­dite our his­toric mis­sion to cre­ate a united, non­ra­cial, non­sex­ist, demo­cratic and pros­per­ous so­ci­ety.

It should be ac­knowl­edged that in some places, self-in­ter­est has trumped self­less­ness, and per­sonal gain has tri­umphed over the greater good of the coun­try. This has as­sumed alarm­ing pro­por­tions in some prov­inces, lead­ing to the loss of life.

The ANC will con­tinue to af­firm the right of any mem­ber to raise their griev­ances in the cor­rect man­ner, us­ing party struc­tures. What we will never con­done is the wan­ton violence that has char­ac­terised some in­ci­dents of dis­sent in the leadup to the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the list process.

Such ac­tions stand fun­da­men­tally op­posed to the val­ues of the ANC, and the coun­try’s law en­force­ment agen­cies must act de­ci­sively against this crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

Im­por­tantly, struc­tures of the ANC should re­ject thug­gery mas­querad­ing as “le­git­i­mate dis­sent”. This is noth­ing but the man­i­fes­ta­tion of op­por­tunism by those op­posed to demo­cratic out­comes.

In pan­der­ing to a pop­ulism that seeks to im­pose on com­mu­ni­ties can­di­dates who are not the choices of the peo­ple, we would be be­tray­ing the val­ues for which the ANC stands. Where changes have been made to lists in keep­ing with our pol­icy po­si­tions, it is the duty of the lead­er­ship to clar­ify our pro­cesses to the struc­tures. The pol­i­tics that in­forms the ANC’s can­di­date se­lec­tion pro­cesses is in­tended to deepen our democ­racy and cul­ture of hu­man rights – all the while serv­ing to mo­bilise the peo­ple to take an ac­tive part in chang­ing their lives for the bet­ter.

When the ANC has taken a de­ci­sion, as dis­ci­plined mem­bers of this glo­ri­ous move­ment we have to ac­cept those de­ci­sions – even if they may at times be un­pop­u­lar. To be firm in com­mu­ni­cat­ing this to the struc­tures re­quires courage and re­solve.

We have to stay the course. We should not al­low our­selves to be swayed and dis­tracted. The fo­cus must now be on de­liv­er­ing a de­ci­sive and over­whelm­ing vic­tory at the polls on Au­gust 3.

The ANC owes its po­si­tion as the rul­ing party to an over­whelm­ing pub­lic man­date. We have been cho­sen to lead our peo­ple in suc­ces­sive elec­tions since 1994.

We must now di­rect our en­er­gies and ef­forts to car­ry­ing for­ward our pro­gramme of rad­i­cal so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, and re­al­is­ing the val­ues of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Rev­o­lu­tion.

We owe it to the peo­ple of South Africa – for whom the ANC is their po­lit­i­cal home – to put aside dis­trac­tions and fix­a­tions on in­ter­nal pro­cesses, and fo­cus on the task at hand.

Duarte is deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the ANC

PHOTO: LUCKY NX­U­MALO

AN­GRY Ward mem­bers gather out­side Luthuli House to protest against can­di­date lists

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