Pandering to populism betrays the ANC’s values
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
ANGRY Ward members gather outside Luthuli House to protest against candidate lists