Only a seis­mic shift within the ANC can now save the party

CityPress - - Voices - TE­BOGO KHAAS voices@city­press.co.za Khaas is ex­ec­u­tive chair­per­son of Cor­po­rate SA, a strate­gic ad­vi­sory con­sul­tancy. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @tebo­gokhaas

It is clear that those who crafted our Con­sti­tu­tion premised their work on two no­ble as­sump­tions. The first was that only in­di­vid­u­als of the high­est in­tel­lect and moral stature would as­cend to the high­est of­fice in the land. The sec­ond was that ir­re­spec­tive of which po­lit­i­cal party con­sti­tuted a ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment, mem­bers of that House would be up­right in­di­vid­u­als guided only by their con­science as they dis­charged their con­sti­tu­tional man­date on be­half of us – the peo­ple of South Africa.

Put dif­fer­ently, crafters of the Con­sti­tu­tion surely imag­ined that only men and women cut from the cloth of Nel­son Man­dela, Robert Sobukwe or Steve Biko would be con­sid­ered for el­e­va­tion to any of the three arms of state. It is now ev­i­dent that some mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive and Par­lia­ment are cut from pe­cu­liar cloth. Let me ex­plain. Par­lia­ment has failed to hold the ex­ec­u­tive to ac­count on many oc­ca­sions. With re­spect to the lat­est de­ba­cle re­gard­ing the dis­burse­ment of so­cial grants, it was left to jus­tices of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to, once again, in­ter­cede.

The men and women in green robes sum­moned the bib­li­cal wis­dom of Solomon as they nav­i­gated the in­ter­play be­tween the need to ad­here strictly to the rule of law, on the one hand, and the ex­i­gent need to re­spond to an im­pend­ing plight fac­ing the in­di­gent were so­cial grants not dis­bursed, on the other.

With Na­tional Trea­sury not dis­posed to al­lo­cate funds for a pro­posed ex­ten­sion of a con­tract al­ready de­clared un­law­ful by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, which ex­ten­sion Trea­sury also deemed in­sid­i­ous and in con­tra­ven­tion of the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act, it was thanks to Black Sash’s in­ter­ven­tion that loom­ing so­cial chaos was averted.

Con­sti­tu­tional Court jus­tices were un­doubt­edly placed in an in­vid­i­ous po­si­tion as they were com­pelled to le­git­imise the ex­ten­sion of the very con­tract be­tween Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS) and the SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency they had ear­lier de­clared un­law­ful and in­valid.

What is ag­o­nis­ing is that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has, once again, gifted racists a golden op­por­tu­nity to ar­ro­gantly re­mind us, as Steve Biko elo­quently put it, that “white lib­er­als be­lieve that white lead­er­ship is a sine qua non in this coun­try and that whites are the di­vinely ap­pointed pace-set­ters in progress”.

Ac­cord­ing to Western Cape Premier He­len Zille and CPS CEO Serge Be­la­mant, we black peo­ple owe it to colo­nial­ism for bless­ing us with the courts and tech­nol­ogy needed to dis­burse so­cial grants.

Their pos­tures are patently wrong and there is in­her­ent dan­ger of their ap­par­ent ig­no­rance be­com­ing ax­iomatic. Let me has­ten to state that Africans have been at the fore­front of de­vel­op­ing knowl­edge sys­tems and progress long be­fore white peo­ple colonised us. But this is a topic for another day.

The Con­sti­tu­tion is not the only sa­cred covenant Zuma has vi­o­lated with im­punity. He has equally tram­pled the ANC’s own con­sti­tu­tion ad nau­seam in the process, earn­ing him­self the “equal-op­por­tu­nity con­sti­tu­tional delin­quent” moniker from his de­trac­tors.

Zuma is likely to be joined soon in his in­famy by one of his use­ful acolytes, So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini, un­der whose watch the so­cial grants fi­asco grew.

Not­with­stand­ing the court’s find­ings, Dlamini is un­likely to be cen­sured ow­ing to her prox­im­ity to and im­por­tance in Zuma’s project to have his former wife suc­ceed him as ANC pres­i­dent later this year. Or­di­nar­ily, any in­di­vid­ual with some ves­tige of shame would step down vol­un­tar­ily af­ter such pub­lic hu­mil­i­a­tion with­out even risk­ing im­peach­ment. But then again, we are deal­ing with an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­ec­u­tive that has be­come adept at sidestep­ping de­ci­sions of the courts. Zuma can af­ford to scoff at the courts and so­ci­ety be­cause his po­lit­i­cal ecosys­tem plays habi­tat to some equally ex­tra­or­di­nary ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers; Cabi­net acolytes, in­clud­ing the self-same Dlamini, whose in­tegrity owes its sar­to­rial el­e­gance to Trav­el­gate; while Par­lia­ment boasts among its lat­est ad­di­tions an ANC MP who fea­tures promi­nently in the damn­ing State of Cap­ture re­port. They all pro­vide the nec­es­sary po­lit­i­cal cover and oxy­gen Zuma needs in his pur­suit of nar­row self-in­ter­ests.

That even some up­right ANC MPs “tem­po­rar­ily lost their con­science” as they closed ranks dur­ing Nkand­la­gate in­forms us just how ex­tra­or­di­nary th­ese times are.

There is un­likely to be any respite on a weary pop­u­lace in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture as the ANC will, come De­cem­ber 2017, prob­a­bly in­stall its new lead­er­ship along fac­tional lines with the at­ten­dant ex­pec­ta­tion that those elected or ap­pointed to strate­gic po­si­tions are ob­li­gated to en­sure that the sta­tus quo en­sues.

Fur­ther, de­spite the fact that the 2017 ANC pol­icy doc­u­ments en­join its pro­posed elec­toral coun­cil to be guided by prin­ci­ples en­shrined in the ANC’s now-de­funct Through the Eye of the Nee­dle pol­icy doc­u­ment, this is un­likely to be adopted and, in the event that it is, its im­ple­men­ta­tion is likely to face gusty po­lit­i­cal head­winds. As I con­clude, let me state the ob­vi­ous. Zuma has all but ab­di­cated the pres­i­dency. His pri­mal fear and pre­oc­cu­pa­tion now seems to be about self-preser­va­tion.

There are still many good men and women in the ANC. They will, how­ever, re­main muz­zled or in­ef­fec­tual for some time. Only a seis­mic shift in the bal­ance of forces within the ANC can help em­bolden them and hope­fully save the party from it­self.

Lastly, our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy has en­dured yet another ag­o­nis­ing stress test and, as the only ef­fec­tive bul­wark against an in­ept ANC gov­ern­ment, let us pray that the ju­di­ciary con­tin­ues to never fail us – the peo­ple of South Africa.


ABOUT ME Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s pri­mary con­cern is self­p­reser­va­tion

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