Skills ANC can use to solve its prob­lems

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS -

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


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