ANC may be doomed to re­peat its mis­takes

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Molifi Tsha­bal­ala voices@city­press.co.za

De­liv­er­ing the fifth an­nual Onkgopotse Tiro Memo­rial Lec­ture a few weeks ago at the Univer­sity of Lim­popo, Kenyan in­tel­lec­tual Pa­trick Lu­mumba said that, “when his­tory is writ­ten and writ­ten prop­erly”, we would apol­o­gise to for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.

With eight months to go be­fore fin­ish­ing his sec­ond term in of­fice, Mbeki was re­called by the ANC af­ter the party’s na­tional con­fer­ence in Polok­wane in 2007 in which he lost his ANC pres­i­dency to Ja­cob Zuma.

In­ci­den­tally, Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) leader Julius Malema and SA Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions sec­re­tary-gen­eral Zwelinz­ima Vavi have since apol­o­gised to Mbeki and to South Africa for throw­ing their weight be­hind Zuma to be­come the coun­try’s next pres­i­dent.

This opin­ion piece is not about Mbeki, though, it is about how a cor­rect ver­sion of his­tory can­not be kind to ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, who has helped Zuma al­low the ANC to de­scend fur­ther into a state of de­gen­er­a­tive fac­tion­al­ism, as Ebrahim Har­vey points out in an ar­ti­cle.

Although Zuma is the main rea­son be­hind the ANC’s death, the party dies in the hands of Man­tashe, who is a chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer. He runs the ANC be­cause Zuma and Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa spend most of their times in gov­ern­ment.

Un­like ANC trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize, ANC Mpumalanga chair­per­son David Mabuza and ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber Lindiwe Sisulu, Man­tashe has not come clean about his fac­tional role in the past two ANC na­tional con­fer­ences. Es­pe­cially the most re­cent one, dur­ing which he and Zuma were re-elected as sec­re­tary-gen­eral and pres­i­dent, re­spec­tively.

How­ever, his claim that there will be a cri­sis if Zuma does not hand over the reins of power to Ramaphosa speaks vol­umes about his fac­tional al­le­giance in the run-up to the party’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

The ANC con­sti­tu­tion does not set out that the deputy pres­i­dent must au­to­mat­i­cally suc­ceed the pres­i­dent. In fact, its con­sti­tu­tion does not stop Zuma from vy­ing for a third term as ANC pres­i­dent. How­ever, he would be in­el­i­gi­ble for a third term as South Africa’s pres­i­dent if the ANC won the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions.

In 2007, as Mbeki pointed out in his Oliver Tambo Memo­rial Lec­ture a few days ago, the ANC made a res­o­lu­tion that the ANC pres­i­dent must be­come the pres­i­dent of the coun­try to stymie the two cen­tres of power.

As seen in re­cent years, sec­re­taries-gen­eral are of­ten, if not al­ways, part of the tri­umphant fac­tion. For ex­am­ple, KwaZulu-Natal sec­re­tary­gen­eral Sihle Zikalala com­prised part of the tri­umphant fac­tion at the dis­puted 2015 pro­vin­cial elec­tive con­fer­ence, dur­ing which he was elected as pro­vin­cial chair­per­son of the ANC. The same hap­pened a few weeks ago with Os­car Mabuyane in the East­ern Cape.

It re­mains to be seen whether the Ramaphosa fac­tion, which has nom­i­nated Man­tashe as na­tional chair­per­son, will emerge tri­umphant in De­cem­ber.

In Man­tashe’s hands, the ANC has given birth to the Congress of the Peo­ple and EFF off­shoots. The party is again go­ing through labour pains as a third splin­ter party ges­tates – and Man­tashe is the midwife.

It is for this rea­son the ANC is not ready for the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence. This has noth­ing to do with lo­gis­ti­cal rea­sons or that chairs may fly; it has to do with a deep­en­ing de­gree of de­gen­er­a­tive fac­tion­al­ism within the party and, by ex­ten­sion, the Tri­par­tite Al­liance. It would fur­ther par­ti­tion the party to a point of an in­evitable split.

The re­cent lit­i­ga­tion re­lated to party con­fer­ences in the East­ern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the North­ern Cape is a tell­tale sign that the ANC is not ready for the con­fer­ence. The ANC is mis­taken if it thinks it can ad­dress its chal­lenges while merely re­cy­cling the same lead­ers who are in­her­ently part of the prob­lem.

Mkhize, Mabuza and Sisulu have come clean about their fac­tional roles dur­ing the past two ANC na­tional con­fer­ences. Yet, iron­i­cally, they vie for se­nior po­si­tions on a ticket of pseudo unity. By elect­ing them into se­nior po­si­tions, the ANC would make the same mis­take it made by elect­ing Zuma as pres­i­dent – not once, but twice – while a dark cloud of 783 counts of cor­rup­tion, fraud, money laun­der­ing, rack­e­teer­ing and tax eva­sion were hang­ing over his head.

It’s no won­der that cor­rup­tion has spi­ralled so out of con­trol. It will take more than a change of lead­er­ship for the ANC to come right. If it wants to re­gain re­spect, mem­bers must put aside their fac­tional in­ter­ests and di­ag­nose the chal­lenges the party and the coun­try face, and it must ap­point a crop of lead­ers who will ad­dress them.

The phe­nom­e­non of state cap­ture – which largely stems from the ANC’s fail­ure to de-mo­nop­o­lise the econ­omy to en­able emerg­ing black firms, in par­tic­u­lar, to do busi­ness with the state – is just a man­i­fes­ta­tion of clien­telismF

, a sec­ond facet of neopat­ri­mo­ni­al­ism. In this re­gard, Zuma del­e­gated his con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to ap­point min­is­ters to the Gup­tas and his son Duduzane, thus en­abling them to com­mit ad­min­is­tra­tive cor­rup­tion.

Neopat­ri­mo­ni­al­ism breeds a poor crop of lead­ers. Be­sides Zuma, who has trans­mo­gri­fied into an anti-Western rev­o­lu­tion­ary of some sort at the twi­light of his sec­ond term much to the detri­ment of the coun­try, Mabuza rep­re­sents noth­ing from an ide­o­log­i­cal view­point, not to men­tion any no­table lead­er­ship qual­ity he would bring to new ANC se­nior lead­er­ship. He just brings 736 del­e­gates to the con­fer­ence to bar­gain for deputy ANC pres­i­dent.

Con­trary to what Zikalala says, unity does not start af­ter the con­fer­ence; it needs to be con­stant. As seen dur­ing the past two con­fer­ences, a tri­umphant fac­tion takes all and then alien­ates the losers and purges them from public in­sti­tu­tions.

Af­ter De­cem­ber, the new NEC will dis­band the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees (PECs) that were op­posed to the tri­umphant fac­tion. If Ramaphosa’s fac­tion wins, the NEC will re­call Zuma as pres­i­dent, and dis­band the KwaZulu-Natal PEC and ANC Youth League and re­place them with mem­bers who are pro-Ramaphosa. Con­versely, if the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma fac­tion wins, Zuma will fin­ish his term of of­fice and the NEC will dis­band the East­ern Cape and North­ern Cape PECs.

. Tsha­bal­ala is an in­de­pen­dent po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and

au­thor of The Thoughts of an Or­di­nary Ci­ti­zen

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