ANC must face down the privileged elite
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.