ANC must face down the priv­i­leged elite

Sunday World - - Opinion -

MAY­IHLOME Tsh­wete raises in­ter­est­ing points in his ar­ti­cle A lit­tle less democ­racy, a lit­tle more de­vel­op­ment (Sun­day World, Novem­ber 10).

I agree that the ANC govern­ment needs to be more as­sertive and, above all, to in­con­ve­nience the haves and worry more about the have-nots”.

The ques­tion is not how much or lit­tle democ­racy you have or need to de­velop, it is what do you do with the democ­racy that you have.

The ANC char­ac­terises it­self as a pro­gres­sive na­tional lib­er­a­tion move­ment that must master the ter­rain of elec­toral con­test, utilise po­lit­i­cal power to ad­vance the ob­jec­tives of the NDR [na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion] and wield in­stru­ments of state in line with these ideals as re­flected in the na­tional con­sti­tu­tion”.

The prob­lem is not democ­racy as such, but too much ac­com­mo­da­tion for the haves, even long af­ter the lapse of the sun­set clauses and the col­lapse of the govern­ment of na­tional unity.

This could speak to the is­sue of bold­ness and as­ser­tion.

More di­rectly, how does the rul­ing party use the power it com­mands to ad­vance a more rad­i­cal and fun­da­men­tal so­cial trans­for­ma­tion agenda?

On many fronts there has been bold­ness, but the ef­fects have not been as re­quired.

The ANC has of­fered a can­did ap­praisal of the past 19 years of free­dom, not­ing slow progress

in over­com­ing the in­her­ited struc­ture of the econ­omy, such that, de­spite a pe­riod of sus­tained growth, there have not been fun­da­men­tal changes in the es­sen­tial struc­ture of the econ­omy (Strategy and Tac­tics, 2012).

The ANC ac­knowl­edges that de­spite many com­mend­able gains, the work­ing class has ex­pe­ri­enced mas­sive chal­lenges, in­clud­ing high un­em­ploy­ment, de­clines in their share of the na­tional in­come, growth of prac­tices such as out­sourc­ing, and sub­con­tract­ing all of which can have the effect of weak­en­ing work­ers bar­gain­ing power”.

The is­sue of state power that Tsh­wete raises is fun­da­men­tal to the ques­tion of trans­for­ma­tion, as un­der­stood also by the ANC it­self.

Wal­ter Sisulu raised this ques­tion sharply in 1976, say­ing: Stripped to its bare es­sen­tials, the na­tional lib­er­a­tion strug­gle re­duces it­self to a strug­gle for po­lit­i­cal power a strug­gle born of ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences.”

The is­sue of state power has been cen­tral to the South African ques­tion since the ad­vent of colo­nial­ism.

The colo­nial rul­ing class knew that con­trol of the state meant con­trol of not only po­lit­i­cal power but also of the econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly its min­eral re­sources and black labour.

It was for that rea­son that the lib­er­a­tion move­ment placed the cap­ture of state power at the cen­tre of its pur­suit of the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion.

Our strug­gle was never meant to end only with for­mal po­lit­i­cal democ­racy, be­cause this would leave the so­cio-eco­nomic in­jus­tice de­rived from aparthei­d­colo­nial­ism in­tact.

Once cap­tured, state power had then to trans­late to fun­da­men­tal so­cial trans­for­ma­tion, such as the ANC has done with trans­for­ma­tive leg­is­la­tion that has re­sulted in mas­sive changes in ed­u­ca­tion, health, so­cial de­vel­op­ment, the econ­omy and else­where.

It is note­wor­thy that some among the op­po­si­tion par­ties have con­sis­tently and fu­ri­ously op­posed all trans­for­ma­tive leg­is­la­tion, such as BEE and em­ploy­ment eq­uity, and the rul­ing party has had stead­fastly to use its de­ci­sive ma­jor­ity to force it into law.


it would be inac- cu­rate to dis­miss the past 19 years as a dis­mal fail­ure dur­ing which trans­for­ma­tion was held back by lib­eral democ­racy and the fear to trans­form.

With the peo­ple of South Africa, the ANC has changed South Africa for the bet­ter, mak­ing it a much bet­ter coun­try to live in com­pared with 1994, at the very on­set of the demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion.

The most ur­gent chal­lenge, over the next decades, is to shift at­ten­tion to­wards mean­ing­ful, more rad­i­cal and fun­da­men­tal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, and to en­sure a de­ci­sive in­ter­ven­tion to elim­i­nate un­em­ploy­ment, in­equal­ity and poverty.

At the heart of this en­deav­our is the pur­suit of high rates of eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment, but above all else to en­sure that the growth is in­clu­sive and eq­ui­table.

This, as I have ar­gued, does not nec­es­sar­ily re­quire that we sus­pend or tame democ­racy.

How­ever, as Tsh­wete cor­rectly ar­gues, what is re­quired from the rul­ing party is greater res­o­lute­ness to en­force trans­for­ma­tion and, on the part of South Africans, a res­o­lute­ness in giv­ing the ANC a de­ci­sive man­date so that it can per­sist with more fun­da­men­tal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion un­in­hib­ited by the op­po­si­tion’s de­lay­ing tac­tics.

The new phase of more mean­ing­ful, rad­i­cal and fun­da­men­tal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion will be more dif­fi­cult, given that it is here that the most stub­born parochial in­ter­ests and fury of the priv­i­leged elite are go­ing to be con­fronted.

All man­ner of clever tricks will be used to block or de­rail rad­i­cal change, from an­a­lysts ar­gu­ing that rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion such as im­ple­ment­ing rad­i­cal min­ing changes and strength­en­ing pub­lic in­vest­ments and state-owned com­pa­nies are in­im­i­cal to eco­nomic growth, to more naked op­po­si­tion such as to BEE and em­ploy­ment eq­uity.

Courts will also be used in this re­gard and even par­lia­men­tary pro­cesses will, per­force, be em­ployed to en­sure that there is no change, that the haves re­main the haves and the have-nots re­main mired in a cy­cle of poverty with their off­spring.

We must be clear and un­equiv­o­cal that this phase is not merely about cre­at­ing a nar­row elite of black cap­i­tal­ists and mid­dle strata, im­por­tant though this is in a mixed econ­omy, but that it is about en­sur­ing that we ex­pand the econ­omy in a way that ad­dresses the most fun­da­men­tal con­cerns of the broad­est ar­ray of South Africans in a man­ner that cre­ates the pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity of our coun­try. TO EV­ERY de­bate, there are two sides. One of the de­bates rag­ing in the coun­try this week is that caused by the rec­om­men­da­tion by Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa to ap­point Robert McBride as head of the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate (Ipid).

In this de­bate, un­for­tu­nately, there has only been one side told so far. For those who might be com­ing into con­tact with McBride’s name, they might con­clude based on the in­for­ma­tion that has been made avail­able so far that he is an evil crim­i­nal who de­serves to rot in jail.

The ar­gu­ment raised by those against McBride’s rec­om­men­da­tion to the post is that he pre­vi­ously faced three crim­i­nal charges. He was never con­victed of two of those, while for the third, his con­vic­tion and sen­tence were over­turned on ap­peal.

What the crit­ics are not de­cry­ing in pub­lic, which is in re­al­ity at the core of their cha­grin, is McBride’s role in the fight against apartheid.

At 23 in 1986, McBride was con­victed and sen­tenced to death af­ter he planted a bomb at Ma­goo s Bar in his home town of Dur­ban. Three women were killed and 69 peo­ple in­jured.

How­ever, in 1992, McBride was re­prieved. He es­caped the gal­lows that swal­lowed tens of other anti-apartheid ac­tivists. This is also some­thing that some of his crit­ics are not happy about.

As part of build­ing a new South Africa that is non­ra­cial and non­sex­ist, McBride and scores of oth­ers were granted amnesty by the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.

With the tone of the de­bates and com­ments on news web­sites, it is clear that rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and for­giv­ing is and will con­tinue to be ex­tended from one side of the fence. Other sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion are not pre­pared to be part­ners in the jour­ney to­wards to­tal heal­ing of the old wounds.

A re­cent ex­am­ple of this one-sided af­fair is the ges­ture by the fam­i­lies of the 1996 Worces­ter Christ­mas Eve bomb­ings. Ste­faans Coet­zee, one of the four men con­victed of the act that killed four peo­ple and in­jured 67, asked for for­give­ness and the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims ac­cepted his re­quest.

This de­spite the fact that the coun­try was two years into the demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion when the four men went out on this mur­der­ous binge.

There are many other ex­am­ples, but what is im­por­tant is for all South Africans to work to­gether in a fair and just man­ner to­wards mak­ing this coun­try a bet­ter place.

McBride is qual­i­fied enough for the post and has served as chief of po­lice in Ekurhu­leni. He ran the depart­ment without fear or favour and cracked open, among oth­ers, syn­di­cates that il­le­gally sold coun­cil land and those who fleeced the state in phony car re­pair con­tracts.

Let us not pre­judge him. Let us give him a chance and judge him on his per­for­mance once at Ipid.

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