Come De­cem­ber, ANC lead­ers will be seek­ing new terms through del­e­gates they them­selves have de­scribed as in­fil­trated by thieves, write Mavuso Msi­mang and Thami Nten­teni

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

Dur­ing the Au­gust 2016 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, ur­ban vot­ers de­prived the ANC of the gov­er­nance of the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of the Nel­son Man­dela Bay, Tsh­wane and Jo­han­nes­burg met­ros. This ef­fec­tively ter­mi­nated con­trol by the party of lib­er­a­tion of the strate­gic and eco­nom­i­cally cru­cial cities that host the coun­try’s leg­is­la­ture, the ex­ec­u­tive and busi­ness cap­i­tals.

Many thought this would sig­nal a wake-up call for the ANC and cause it to em­bark on a pro­gramme of sorely needed cor­rec­tive ac­tion. In­stead, the lead­er­ship an­nounced that it ac­cepted col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity for the organisation’s dis­as­trous elec­toral per­for­mance, and re­treated, clothed in its in­su­lar­ity, to some re­cess where it sup­pos­edly did some se­ri­ous in­tro­spec­tion. Nei­ther its broad mem­ber­ship nor so­ci­ety at large has any clue as to the con­tent of this con­clave save for touted plat­i­tudes about “en­gag­ing the struc­tures” as well as “re­newed com­mit­ment to fight­ing cor­rup­tion”.

Alarmed by the cit­i­zens’ de­clin­ing con­fi­dence in their organisation, ANC vet­er­ans pro­posed the con­ven­ing of a con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence where mem­bers, al­liance part­ners and other pro­gres­sive for­ma­tions of so­ci­ety would find each other, en­gage in se­ri­ous course cor­rec­tion and work to­wards re­triev­ing, at the least, some of the lost val­ues that had once made the ANC a leader of so­ci­ety.

The most the lead­ers of the organisation man­aged to do was per­mit the vet­er­ans a hand­ful of to­kenis­tic meet­ings. Shame­lessly, our cur­rent lead­ers, such as they are, pub­licly re­neged on their ear­lier com­mit­ment to par­tic­i­pate in the en­vis­aged con­fer­ence. Con­tin­u­a­tion of the ef­fort seemed to­tally point­less yet, “For the sake of our fu­ture”, as the vet­er­ans’ found­ing doc­u­ment says, the grey hairs per­sisted but to no avail.

The vet­er­ans should have known bet­ter. In an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Floyd Shivambu, deputy pres­i­dent of the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers, back in 2015, and pub­lished by the Daily Mav­er­ick, he raised the alarm about the per­va­sive in­flu­ence of the Gupta fam­ily on the lead­er­ship of the ANC. He wrote: “[Fi­nance min­is­ter] Nene was re­moved to open space for the Gupta syndicate to loot state re­sources for pri­vate en­rich­ment.” He went on to say: “The Gup­tas have es­tab­lished a solid net­work in­side the ANC and have dis­pro­por­tion­ate and de­ci­sive in­flu­ence in what hap­pens in the rul­ing party and the state ... In their net­work of in­flu­ence they have the pre­miers of the Free State and North West prov­inces, chair­per­sons and CEOs of state-owned com­pa­nies.” How spot-on he was, now that we all know.

Shivambu ob­served tellingly that, as ANC Youth League leader, “Malema was privy to the re­al­ity that the Gup­tas would call in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to tell them which min­is­te­rial po­si­tion had been given to them, prior to the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment by Mr Zuma”. Fik­ile Mbalula, Shivambu cites as an ex­am­ple, “was told by Atul Gupta that he was go­ing to be min­is­ter of sport be­fore [Pres­i­dent] Zuma an­nounced the de­ci­sion”.

Fast-for­ward to 2017, and the SA Coun­cil of Churches (SACC) un­veils its Un­bur­den­ing Panel re­port which re­vealed, among other things, “the sys­tem­atic pat­terns of govern­ment wrong­do­ing”, and refers to “ob­serv­able trends of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­trol of state sys­tems through a power elite that is piv­oted around the pres­i­dent of the repub­lic that is sys­tem­at­i­cally si­phon­ing [off] the as­sets of the state”.

In its 2017 tri­en­nial con­fer­ence in Benoni, the SACC meet­ing unan­i­mously re­solved that the demo­crat­i­cally elected govern­ment of South Africa “has lost its le­git­i­macy”. It re­solved to call for the dis­so­lu­tion of Par­lia­ment and for fresh elec­tions “to se­cure a fresh man­date based on ac­cept­able val­ues and on in­tegrity”. The con­fer­ence also re­solved to con­vene a na­tional con­ven­tion “that in­cludes a broad base of South Africans to re­flect on these mat­ters”.

In a doc­u­ment ti­tled Sav­ing the Soul of the ANC, Rev­erend Frank Chikane, a mem­ber of the stal­warts and vet­er­ans of the ANC, makes the ob­ser­va­tion that “The soul of the ANC is un­der se­vere at­tack, not from ex­ter­nal forces as we would have thought, but from its own mem­bers and lead­ers ... it is clear that the greatest threat to the soul of the move­ment is from its own mem­bers and lead­ers who are be­ing cor­rupted and trans­formed into self-serv­ing agents.”

Fate some­times works in mar­vel­lous ways. Re­cently pub­lished #Gup­taFiles, a col­lec­tion of be­tween 100 000 and 200 000 hacked emails, lay bare the ex­tent of the Gupta fam­ily’s in­flu­ence and con­trol over the state and state in­sti­tu­tions such as Eskom, Denel, SAA and sev­eral oth­ers. If there was any scep­ti­cism about the ve­rac­ity of the state­ments by Shivambu and the SACC and the thrust of for­mer Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port and other doc­u­ments, proof pos­i­tive of the rot lies thick in the con­tents of these emails.

Lest it be for­got­ten, the ANC’s own pres­i­den­tial re­port of 2005 iden­ti­fied cor­rup­tion and pa­tron­age as pos­ing a grave risk to the de­liv­ery of ser­vices and the erad­i­ca­tion of poverty. It con­cludes point­edly that mem­ber­ship of the ANC be­comes an easy route of ac­cess to state power which in turn “makes mem­ber­ship of the ANC an at­trac­tive com­mer­cial propo­si­tion”. It is from this con­tam­i­nated mem­ber­ship that the lead­er­ship ex­pects to re­new its ten­ure in of­fice, come De­cem­ber 2017.

ANC deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa re­cently told his au­di­ence in Mthatha that di­vi­sions in the ANC were not based on pol­i­tics but “on money, be­cause we are fight­ing about money and noth­ing else … money is used to buy votes”. Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, mas­ter of dou­ble­s­peak, has said: “There are three things that will destroy the ANC [as] we know it. One is cor­rup­tion, thieves. We have no short­age of them. The sec­ond is fac­tion­al­ism, where mem­bers of the ANC are loyal to dif­fer­ent lead­ers.” It seems only two ex­am­ples suf­ficed for Man­tashe.

De­spite over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion and the trea­son­able pil­lag­ing by the Gup­tas of as­sets that be­long to South Africans, in­clud­ing many poor ones, Pres­i­dent Zuma claims that he is the vic­tim of vil­i­fi­ca­tion by “white monopoly cap­i­tal­ists” – and their agents – who are an­gered by the pres­i­dent’s pro­gramme for the “rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of the econ­omy”. Iron­i­cally, Malusi Gigaba, newly in­stalled as fi­nance min­is­ter, says there is ac­tu­ally no dif­fer­ence be­tween the so-called rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and the “in­clu­sive growth” strat­egy pur­sued by ousted fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and ap­proved by Cabi­net. Call it what you like, he says, it’s the same dif­fer­ence. All of which begs the question why any­one would be fooled by the pres­i­dent’s cyn­i­cal, di­ver­sion­ary slo­ga­neer­ing.

Come De­cem­ber 2017, the ANC lead­ers will be seek­ing to re­new their five-year ten­ure of of­fice on the back of del­e­gates the deputy pres­i­dent and the sec­re­tary-gen­eral de­scribe as in­fil­trated by thieves and self-seek­ers, and peo­ple whose votes are bought with money. It’s a cry­ing shame.

The vet­er­ans and stal­warts, the in­creas­ing num­ber of con­sci­en­tious na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee lead­ers and their col­leagues in Par­lia­ment, as well as con­cerned cit­i­zens, must join hands and work to­gether to build the South Africa they de­serve.

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