Skills ANC can use to solve its problems
THE ANC’S best-suited candidate campaign, anchored in Radical Economic Transformation (RET), needs a rethink on resource strategy. I have long nailed my colours to the mast on which I endorsed for the 13th presidency of the ANC.
That candidate is Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Most who reject her candidacy do so less for who she is, what she stands for or in consideration of her persona, her roles in the organisation, country and continent.
They all rush for who she married and later divorced. It has become too easy for some to engage in this lazy analysis that she is another Zuma.
Her fellow contenders have equally drunk from that stream in attacking her ex-husband, hoping to derail her campaign.
The silly arguments advanced are too many. One is, if she becomes president she will give President Zuma a free pass.
She is therefore conveniently denied her own human agency, in which her undeniable record of selfless serving and corruptionfree leadership proclaims her a disciplined and loyal ANC member and leader.
NDZ’S campaign easily stands as the only campaign so far that is centred on real ANC policy. The ANC has adopted RET as its flagship policy pursuit.
It is important to accept that regardless how RET makes some beneficiaries of both apartheid and the current democratic economic advantage uncomfortable, it is not a concept concocted by a few people within the ANC.
Johann Rupert’s arguments are a case in point and he commits two errors, perhaps deliberately.
First he reduces RET and attributes it to a person called Jacob Zuma, meaning he attempts divorcing the ANC from RET. Secondly, he voices his contempt for ANC policy.
RET is the adopted policy of the ANC since 2012, to therefore hear Rupert callously reduce it to nothing but a formula for looting in his Geneva interview, confirms that some key beneficiaries of apartheid’s economic footprint simply have no regard for ANC policy.
The ANC needs to challenge Rupert on this dismissive stance on its policy.
NDZ does not just echo or re-echo RET policy, she has taken time to give it practical content, with her fundamental belief that through skills development, women and the youth could carve themselves opportunities to participate in the economy.
She has correctly and meaningfully identified the youth and women as her primary constituencies.
One reason being the fact that youth unemployment at a high of 60% is exacerbated by the fact that little has been done to deal with issues involving the youth.
While the campaign of her main rival, Cyril Ramaphosa, argues for a continuance of the current economic status quo, citing a need to refine processes and work for the eradication of corruption, NDZ endorses what some may term a leftist-leaning RET policy.
ANC branches must therefore engage if the status quo is what is needed, or the implementation of an adopted ANC policy immanent in RET.
NDZ has no traditional and sexy media supporting her campaign. Those slots have been allocated to Ramaphosa, her only real rival. We saw this with Media 24 and Tiso and its Sunday Times acting as the public relations company for Ramaphosa when the unfortunate news concerning his alleged indiscretions broke.
Every campaign needs a media footprint. In South Africa with its public choice preferences, the media remains largely biased to what can be termed white interests.
NDZ is on record to have referred to the existence of WMC (white monopoly capital) dominance in the South African economy. Media therefore will not take kindly to candidates that define the challenge of economic disparity in terms of race.
As a disciplined cadre, NDZ’S message to the ANC as an organisation is that of unity. Her plea is for ANC members to appreciate the importance of a disciplined cadre as a nonnegotiable.
Her message to business, a key stakeholder, is let us engage. She essentially believes nothing will happen until the varied sectors of society agree to engage in honesty and trust. She is therefore not hostile to business or any sector but has a track record of encouraging engagement to let the real issues stand.
NDZ may appear guarded and conservative, but in her presentations she spends time and gives detail on the economic realities and challenges that face the country. At her Lusaka Nyanga community address in the Dullah Omar region, she stressed that her focus would be on educating the youth and empowering women.
She does not look awkward among the poor, nor out of touch among those for whom RET is not a mere slogan but their only hope for a future.
NDZ’S campaign warrants proper structure and infrastructure and warm bodies. She needs to beef up on the human capital aspect because her competitors have well-oiled and sleek operations including campaign managers.
A skilled team is not a luxury but a necessity if she is serious to summit the ANC Kilimanjaro. She needs to make her core team known and visible in all nine provinces.
The NDZ campaign from where I stand needs resource in many fronts – from an outsider’s perspective, it seems not to be a moneyed campaign. The positive side of this attests to who she has consistently been, a person not interested in money. The drawback is that she needs resources to structure her campaign.
Again, her campaign appears essentially driven and guarded by the ANCWL, and there are positives and negatives around this. While we may appreciate the need on the league’s part to guard her, space around her must be created to bring in core skills that will deliver a successful campaign.
NDZ’S campaign unfortunately has to take cognisance of the harsh reality of our appropriated racial context – meaning that while the ANC is essentially supported in the election sense by what the National Question defines as “Africans” she is not just campaigning for December 2017, but for 2019.
This reality should assist her develop and define core messaging for the appropriated race groups (coloureds, Indians, whites) and those who self define as Khoisan.
Also, NDZ is not particularly focusing on the tripartite alliance, whose partners – Cosatu and the SACP – have pronounced on their preferred candidate. Yet that should not detract her from clawing back support from this conflated reality. She needs to find a way to engage members of the tripartite alliance and make inroads where RET is concerned.
She will need to find ways to be seen to open up more to people she may not trust to make her campaign work for both 2017 and 2019. This may also be extended to her presence in the technology and social media spaces.
Dlamini Zuma, like most politicians, has to find a way to deal with the reality of sticking to a script presentation and finding a balance between reading and her audience. It is the refined and gifted communicator who easily makes that switch in and out of the scripts.
At her Gordon Institute of Business Studies address, she was accused by some in the media of not having stuck to her published address in word and letter, yet what cannot be said is that she failed to address the subject of making plain her core theme of RET.
We know her many official speeches and addresses as AU leader and before that Minister of Foreign Affairs, yet it would not harm her campaign if she targeted some publications with the fundamental aim to let that key strength count.
While she talks of co-operatives, the fact is co-operatives in many instances are challenging in implementation as programmes.
One would recommend that she find means to support what some may call “Ekasi township economy”, another ANC policy stand in programmes and projects that are unique for her developing South Africa and its citizens.
In the end, I still say Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is the best-suited candidate to become the 13th ANC president. She embodies the unity, discipline, and core policy focus of the ANC and runs a principled and clean campaign – exactly what is needed as the ANC seeks to rebuild itself in unity from a factional reality.
Unlike some of her key rivals, she engages the issues of the day: she is all about policy, programme and action to make RET a reality. She has a fulcrum understanding of where we find ourselves both in the ANC and in South Africa’s intertwined realities.
Her illustrious career and her time spent as AU chairperson has prepared her to serve the number one office in the ANC with a deep sense of humility and selflessness. IT IS common cause that the ANC has major problems that could result in electoral decline come the 2019 national elections.
There’s worldwide recognition that two distinct skills sets are required to solve a problem. Kent University in Britain and Education Asia in Hong Kong agree “problem-solving requires analytical and creative skills”.
Analytical, otherwise referred to as logical thinking, includes “ordering, comparing, contrasting, evaluating and selecting”. It results in a convergent process, which is a logical framework that selects the best alternative from what is available by narrowing down the range of possibilities.
Creative thinking is a divergent process. It uses imagination to create a large range of solutions. It looks beyond the obvious by pinpointing ideas that may at first seem unrealistic or have no connection with the problem.
Problem-solving then is about using logic as well as imagination.
It requires a controlled mix of both – a skills set the ANC desperately needs to survive its present day quagmires.
With its December 2017 elective conference on the horizon, it has become desperate to find a way out of its troubles.
The recent nullification of the 8th ANC election by the Kwazulunatal High Court can at best be described as adding fuel to the fire.
But imagine if in 2007, instead of contesting for presidential power, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma had both declined to stand and rather endorsed the same candidate. Imagine the positive outcomes and energy this would have generated within the ANC and across South African society.
Instead, today’s ANC is besieged with self-inflicted problems whose amplification largely emerged from this period.
It has resulted in divisions, slate politics and a corrosive impact of money with an impact felt within the party, across state institutions and society at large.
Given this experience and the current state of affairs, it is advisable for the ANC to heed President Jacob Zuma’s call. Appreciate the spirit of his plea when he says “factionally driven winner takes all is not in the interest of the ANC”. Suspicions of sinister motives aside, considering who is making this proposition, the president understands the results of such absolutes with no room for give and take very well.
With little time left until the elective conference, the ANC must put greater effort on finding consensus about what energy must characterise the outcomes.
A solution based on logical thought could be reviewing the order of business. Ordinarily, election of key leadership positions dominates the initial parts of these gatherings before policies and a programme of action discussed and adopted.
Logically, don’t you first need to discuss and adopt policies and programmes and only thereafter decide who the best placed persons are to implement them?
And on the issue of content discussions, it is obvious that the bizarre fashion parade about white monopoly capital versus monopoly capital rhetoric is likely to characterise factional battles at the conference.
Something that can at best be described as a case where someone saying “I drive a BMW” tries to draw a contrast with another insisting that “I drive a car whose make is a BMW.”
Only factional fanatics can be persuaded that there is a difference between saying “there is white monopoly capital in South Africa” versus “South Africa has a problem of monopoly capital which is primarily racially expressed as white”.
Imagined pro and anti-white monopoly capital fanatics that are in ideological opposition to each other are unlikely to get the organisation the required numbers in the 2019 national elections.
This debate is frivolous and nonsensical. Rather, what is needed is an attitude of problemsolving which must find creative ways to redirect South Africa’s public discourse to the allimportant question of poverty and inequality which has been lost to the current focus on corruption and incompetencies.
And as part of deliberations about modernising its operations, it might serve the ANC well to look into establishing a permanent scientific research-based reporting system and process to inform its national, provincial, regional and local leaderships’ discussions, programmes and actions.
Conflicting responses about what went wrong in terms of performance in the August 2016 local government elections suggest such reporting system and process is non-existent.
Dependent on which faction is speaking, what Zuma has come to represent is blamed as the cause of this failure or a finger is pointed at the Gauteng leadership’s inability to lead when it mattered most.
By now, especially in an effort to better prepare for the national elections, there should be independent, unquestionable research that says where the problems are, what caused them and what’s needed to solve them? If such details exist, why are they not at the heart of its communication or at least “new” way of doing business? Imagine how, instead of present day divisions and opportunistic slants, debates could be channelled into constructive and progressive solutions through such an accepted permanent scientific research-based reporting system and process?
Interestingly, the ANC’S draft policy proposals and public pronouncements by some of its leaders suggest a degree of logical and creative imagination which could very well result in the organisation’s current major problems being done away with.
But as Uk-based capacity building organisation Skillsyouneed puts it: “However well prepared we are for problemsolving there is always an element of the unknown. Although planning and structuring will help make the process more likely to be successful, good judgement and an element of good luck will ultimately determine whether problem-solving was a success.”
Louw is a communications specialist, coach and facilitator as well as presenter on Ubuntu Radio. He writes in his personal capacity