The ANC is be­yond re­form

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Prithi­raj Dul­lay voices@ city­press. co. za

One can­not for­get that the ANC was the mid­wife that de­liv­ered the end of apartheid and the birth of democ­racy. It was the one or­gan­i­sa­tion which, how­ever fal­ter­ingly, co­or­di­nated grow­ing re­sis­tance to the for­mer regime in­side and out­side the coun­try.

Nor can it be for­got­ten that in the ini­tial eu­pho­ria, some progress in pro­vid­ing ba­sics to the peo­ple was suc­cess­ful.

Then came the sell­out to the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and the big banks. The ANC led the coun­try into the ne­olib­eral econ­omy trap. This meant that the status quo would re­main – the econ­omy in the hands of whites and multi­na­tion­als, and lit­tle em­pha­sis on ful­fill­ing the de­mands of the Free­dom Char­ter. It was, with a few tweaks here and there, busi­ness as usual.

Of course, the new black elite had to be ac­com­mo­dated with shares and di­rec­tor­ships in the mega white cor­po­rates. The white cap­tains of in­dus­try added an­other line of de­fence: the new black elite would be there to fend off black de­mands for an econ­omy that al­lowed for full par­tic­i­pa­tion and eco­nomic jus­tice. And the re­al­ity is that the new elite is do­ing an ex­cel­lent job of main­tain­ing the status quo.

It is also clear that the ANC of to­day has lit­tle moral con­nec­tion with the lib­er­a­tion move­ment it used to be and with the lofty ideals of the Tam­bos, Sisu­lus, Mbekis and Kathradas. Its great strug­gle legacy has been tat­tered by the very peo­ple who claim to hold sole rights over its his­tory. Worse, these mis­cre­ants have used the ANC’s no­ble his­tory to de­stroy the move­ment from within. The sad re­al­ity is that there is no ANC any­more; just the de­cay­ing re­mains of a body feasted upon by the Gupta mag­gots and their cap­tured friends.

How could the once-glo­ri­ous move­ment be stripped of its in­tegrity in such a short time? It took more than 100 years to build a pow­er­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion that van­quished apartheid. It took less than 10 years for its own lead­ers to bring it to its knees just as it tasted the fruits of vic­tory. This reeks of a be­trayal of all those who pinned their hopes on the ANC for a bet­ter life, for a con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy, for an eq­ui­table so­ci­ety and joy af­ter 340 years of every mis­ery imag­in­able.

Seem­ingly paral­ysed South Africans ask: What is to be done? Can the ANC be saved or re­vived un­der a new lead­er­ship?

My un­equiv­o­cal an­swer is no. The rot is so wide­spread that every ex­cuse trumped up in the ANC’s de­fence is done so by a mori­bund ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, fear­ful of its own com­plic­ity in state cap­ture and cor­rup­tion be­ing ex­posed. Mem­bers of the Umkhonto weSizwe Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion, the ANC women’s and youth leagues, and the tri­par­tite al­liance are scram­bling to plug the cracks or de­sert­ing the sink­ing ship. Their ex­cuses are de­rided amid grow­ing protests across the land.

Is a re­vival of the ANC pos­si­ble? No. Be­cause it has cho­sen not the path of a sus­tain­able con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy, but that of trea­sonous con­nivance with ex­ter­nal forces like the Gup­tas, the Bell Pot­tingers and oth­ers yet to be named, to cap­ture the state for pur­poses of mass loot­ing and to cover their tracks by de­flect­ing crit­i­cism to other quar­ters.

“Be­trayal” is the word that en­cap­su­lates what the ANC has done to the na­tion’s cen­turies-old, cher­ished dream of en­joy­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic free­dom, and of hav­ing its dig­nity re­stored. We are fully aware of the dev­as­ta­tion wrought by the apartheid ed­u­ca­tion on gen­er­a­tions of our chil­dren, yet the ANC gov­ern­ment has al­lowed for the “cap­ture” of ed­u­ca­tion by a union that holds dear only the in­ter­ests of its mem­bers rather than those of the chil­dren. This is per­haps the cru­ellest be­trayal. An­other gen­er­a­tion lost, and a sec­ond on the way.

Now we know where we are headed ed­u­ca­tion­ally. As­tound­ingly, it has been sug­gested that a maths pass for grades 7, 8 and 9 be re­duced to 20% for pro­mo­tion pur­poses. South Africa is al­ready ranked next to last out of 140 coun­tries in maths ed­u­ca­tion. This re­duces our ed­u­ca­tion to “junk” status.

The SABC’s high­est post was given to a brag­gart who forged his ma­tric cer­tifi­cate. The pub­lic broad­caster ex­pelled its most tal­ented staff and re­placed them with syco­phants, who sang his praises. The SABC be­came as trashy as its lead­er­ship – all blus­ter and with no sub­stance.

Then there are our paras­tatals. Eskom, Transnet, Denel and SAA have been run to ground by in­com­pe­tent lead­er­ship.

Just 17 of the coun­try’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are func­tion­ing in ac­cor­dance with their man­dates. The rest have had their re­sources plun­dered by gov­ern­ment and lo­cal res­i­dents.

More than 100 in­ca­pac­i­tated psy­chi­atric pa­tients were moved from gov­ern­ment care to pri­vate ser­vice providers, with no back­ground checks hav­ing been done. More than 90 of them died of star­va­tion or ne­glect. But no heads have rolled.

Crime is out of con­trol. It has to be when the min­is­ter of po­lice calls for se­cu­rity guards to pro­tect po­lice and po­lice sta­tions from at­tack by the very same crim­i­nals it is sup­posed to keep in check. Is there a re­li­able record of the num­ber of po­lice-is­sued guns stolen an­nu­ally since 1994? How many have been re­cov­ered? How many po­lice dock­ets have gone miss­ing, end­ing ju­di­cial pro­cesses?

I could go on ask­ing a myr­iad ques­tions, but we know that we will get no an­swers. Even the re­sponses we do get are shown up as be­ing lit­tle more than cover-ups.

The ANC has self-de­struc­ted. Peo­ple’s power has to man­i­fest it­self through civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. We need a na­tional con­ven­tion to chart a new way for­ward so that we can re­claim our dig­nity as a na­tion.

Dul­lay is an aca­demic, au­thor, colum­nist, and

en­vi­ron­men­tal and hu­man rights ac­tivist

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