Revolution: rewind, re­form, run and hide – or re­boot?

CityPress - - Voices -

What does that make the cur­rent ANC, SA Com­mu­nist Party and Cosatu-led al­liance? It seems to be a move­ment that has lost its way. While it has a rad­i­cal vi­sion, has de­liv­ered democ­racy, a rad­i­cal Con­sti­tu­tion, and en­sured the de­liv­ery of ba­sic ser­vices, so­cial wel­fare and the begin­nings of trans­for­ma­tion, the weak­nesses and fail­ures of the cur­rent ANC lead­er­ship are un­der­min­ing th­ese gains. The lead­ers of the ANC lead by bom­bas­tic claims to le­git­i­macy. The move­ment is no longer di­rected by the revo­lu­tion­ary na­tional democrats and demo­cratic so­cial­ists, but by a small, vo­ra­cious elite who hold their ma­te­rial in­ter­ests as the method of main­tain­ing power in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

This lead­er­ship has made the demo­cratic revolution grind to a halt. It has made the in­ter­ests of the na­tion sec­ondary to the in­ter­ests of a few in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies, some of whom are not even South African.

The bal­ance of lead­ers have their heads buried in the sand. Class for­ma­tion has cap­tured the lead­er­ship of the ANC, and those who have not aligned them­selves with the pro­gramme of the new elite sit qui­etly.

What is the re­sponse?

There seem to be four re­sponses to this sit­u­a­tion in our or­gan­i­sa­tion. One is to hark back nos­tal­gi­cally to the ANC of the past and try to wish it back into ex­is­tence. As one sage po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist said, in the mid­dle of the road cross­ing from the par­lia­men­tary precinct to a lux­ury ho­tel: “Com­rades, that ANC you keep talk­ing about, of Oliver Tambo, of Chris Hani, of Dora Ta­mana, face it, it’s gone! It’s never com­ing back!” The politics of rem­i­nis­cence.

The sec­ond re­sponse is to think that a process of re­form of the move­ment can hap­pen grad­u­ally, slowly ed­u­cat­ing cadres to be­come prin­ci­pled rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies and re­ly­ing on a kind of magic that will en­sure the val­ues and prin­ci­ples writ­ten in the his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments of our or­gan­i­sa­tion will en­ter th­ese cadres by a process of os­mo­sis in the mi­lieu of the sick, twisted, warped and per­verse cap­i­tal­ism that is the prod­uct of colo­nial­ism and apartheid, and su­per­charged by glob­al­i­sa­tion. This is politics as rit­ual, a kind of magic or muti.

The third re­sponse is to ig­nore re­al­ity and blame all the ills we face on the op­po­si­tion, on en­emy agents, on any­thing and every­thing from pix­ies to the Il­lu­mi­nati! The run-and-hide-from-re­al­ity ap­proach.

The fourth view is to recog­nise the chal­lenges we face as be­ing part of the suc­cess of the demo­cratic revolution. This is about own­ing the changes we have brought about in terms of race, class, gen­der, dif­fer­ently abled peo­ple, youth and the el­derly. It is a po­si­tion that ac­cepts that it is right that we have black mil­lion­aires, but wrong that we still have poverty. It ac­cepts that it is right that we have uni­ver­sal so­cial grants, but wrong that so many are still re­liant on them. It ac­cepts that although we have built houses, they are not of the size and qual­ity we want our peo­ple to live in. It is a po­si­tion that is un­com­pro­mis­ing about cor­rup­tion, nepo­tism, a poor work ethic and a two-tier so­ci­ety with one world for the rich and an­other for the poor. It is a po­si­tion that un­der­stands that th­ese suc­cesses, suc­cesses of the ANC, have cre­ated new chal­lenges, and that we need to grasp the fact that this means we in the ANC have to change the way we or­gan­ise, mo­bilise, de­bate and con­test ideas, elec­tions and prac­tise gov­er­nance. This is the revo­lu­tion­ary ap­proach to politics. This is an ANC-led revolution. It must lead it. To do so, it must be the first to pro­claim there are no holy cows. Even the ANC it­self can­not be a holy cow.

It is the timid­ity of lead­ers that is the prob­lem. The Con­sti­tu­tion does not pro­hibit na­tion­al­i­sa­tion, land re­form, in­come grants, ag­gres­sive re­dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth or com­pen­sa­tion for the ef­fects of apartheid.

Each of us might have dif­fer­ent views about why this is so. Those who never sup­ported the ANC will blame it. Those who have lost power to oth­ers in the ANC will blame the cur­rent lead­er­ship. Those in power now will blame the for­mer regime and even, bizarrely, “en­emy agents”.

We have had 26 years to change peo­ple’s lives in a sub­stan­tial way and we have squan­dered the time. The for­mer Na­tional Party dragged out the ne­go­ti­a­tions process and en­cum­bered us with a sys­tem of provin­cial gov­ern­ment and pro­tec­tions for the ill-got­ten gains of colo­nial­ism and apartheid that is costly, in­ef­fec­tive and sim­ply a fur­ther ob­sta­cle for tak­ing gov­ern­ment closer to the peo­ple. The ANC in gov­ern­ment adopted poli­cies that sti­fled growth and led to the ex­ac­er­ba­tion of the in­fra­struc­ture back­log apartheid be­queathed us.

What do we have to do to move be­yond this crisis and re­store hope and move­ment to­wards the so­ci­ety de­fined in our Con­sti­tu­tion? We must iden­tify, pro­mote and sup­port a cal­i­bre of lead­ers who don’t steal pub­lic money, who don’t lie to their peo­ple, who stand up for the poor, the weak and the ex­ploited, and who fight for po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial jus­tice. The ANC must lead this na­tional di­a­logue.

In­stead, mem­bers of the ANC are be­ing whipped into line by a lead­er­ship that is caught up in try­ing to cover up for its in­dis­cre­tions, and to pro­tect its con­tin­ued in­cum­bency, to see the dam­age be­ing done. Even worse is the pos­si­bil­ity that they do not even care.

Dex­ter is an ANC mem­ber What do you think the ANC can do to set SA back on the path en­vi­sioned in the Con­sti­tu­tion? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word ANC and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

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PHOTO: LUCKY NX­U­MALO

HEAR NO EVIL Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and the ANC’s top brass launch the party's elec­tion man­i­festo in Port El­iz­a­beth ear­lier this year. The party risks los­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the local gov­ern­ment elec­tions in Au­gust

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