ANC SG lists causes of party’s chaos, de­cline

Mail & Guardian - - News - Go­van Whit­tles

The qual­ity of the ANC’s branches and its mem­ber­ship is in de­cline, ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe states in his di­ag­nos­tic re­port of the party, which will be pre­sented at the party’s pol­icy con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

This has been caused by mass re­cruit­ment, a weak in­duc­tion pro­gramme that makes a joke of the ANC’s values, a dy­ing cul­ture of read­ing pol­icy doc­u­ments and in­co­her­ent po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, among other rea­sons.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the poor qual­ity of branches is re­flected by their in­abil­ity to cam­paign for by-elec­tions and the “ex­pec­ta­tion” that the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee and na­tional of­fi­cials will visit each ward.

“There is noth­ing wrong with that but, when it reaches a stage of be­ing an ex­pec­ta­tion, it re­flects on the qual­ity of lead­er­ship in gen­eral,” Man­tashe writes.

The de­cline in de­bates in­formed by the ANC’s ide­ol­ogy has taken place at a lead­er­ship level, Man­tashe says, and he be­moans the ab­sence of terms such as “rev­o­lu­tion”, “the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion” and “colo­nial­ism of a spe­cial type” in the pol­icy doc­u­ments.

The ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral warns that the party is at risk of be­ing dis­so­ci­ated from its strat­egy and poli­cies in the pub­lic’s eye. In­stead of an­chor­ing de­bates in ide­ol­ogy, “there is a grow­ing al­lergy to en­gage in pol­i­tics, and we tend to re­treat into be­ing tech­ni­cal”.

He says the “de­cline in po­lit­i­cal con­scious­ness” has con­trib­uted to di­vi­sions in the ANC, be­cause op­pos­ing fac­tions dis­agree on points of em­pha­sis rather than ide­ol­ogy. The re­port cites two ex­am­ples — the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land and “rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion”.

“We refuse to de­velop a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach to land re­form. The de­bate is polem­i­cal and de­struc­tive, and rel­e­gated into a fight among fac­tions that want to win points pub­licly,” he writes.

On “rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion”, he says: “We agree on the need to im­ple­ment [it] but get dis­tracted into the temp­ta­tion of dis­agree­ing on what we really mean. We tend to look for dis­agree­ments so that we can con­fuse so­ci­ety.

“Why is it im­pos­si­ble for the ANC to de­velop a co­her­ent ap­proach and speak with one voice?”

Man­tashe says ANC lead­ers are de­lib­er­ately un­der­min­ing and de­fy­ing the party at the be­hest of their fac­tion, and in­di­vid­u­als and var­i­ous of­fices of the or­gan­i­sa­tion have borne the brunt of this re­bel­lion.

“We defy the or­gan­i­sa­tion be­cause fac­tions say so,” Man­tashe writes, cit­ing the suc­ces­sion de­bate as an ex­am­ple.

“The NEC [na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee] de­cides that we can dis­cuss names against prin­ci­ples, but com­rades go ahead and pro­nounce on their line-ups. It is not be­cause com­rades do not un­der­stand; they are de­lib­er­ately un­der­min­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Or­gan­i­sa­tional dis­ci­pline in the ANC is col­laps­ing and openly ig­nor­ing its rules trans­lates into a freefor-all, an­ar­chy and chaos.

“It is those of us who project them­selves as ‘holier than thou’ who con­trib­ute to the chaos, as they feel a lead­er­ship they de­spise does not need to be re­spected,” Man­tashe says.

The main rea­son for the col­lapse is the party’s fail­ure to dis­ci­pline mem­bers at “the clos­est point to where the trans­gres­sion took place”. This has led to mem­bers by­pass­ing the move­ment’s other struc­tures and to es­tab­lish “hot lines with the na­tional lead­er­ship”.

“It starts as a gen­uine ex­pres­sion of un­hap­pi­ness, but ends up be­ing a se­ri­ous ef­fort of fic­tion­al­is­ing the na­tional lead­er­ship,” he writes.

“It is not be­cause com­rades do not un­der­stand; they are de­lib­er­ately un­der­min­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion”

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