ANC’s mo­ment of truth and re­newal

The New Age (KwaZulu-Natal) - - Comment -

THE next six months are prob­a­bly the most cru­cial in the 105-year his­tory of the African Na­tional Congress.

Apart from the in­ter­nal tur­moil in the party and the broad demo­cratic move­ment, char­ac­terised by fac­tion­al­ism, ca­reerism and op­por­tunism, the stu­dents of his­tory in the ANC would have looked at the fate of sim­i­lar lib­er­a­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions af­ter they had tasted the fruit and the pit­falls of power. They would have looked at the rise and fall of Nicaragua’s San­din­istas, for in­stance, and the mis­takes and chal­lenges the ANC would have to avoid and over­come to es­cape a sim­i­lar outcome.

If the sev­eral pro­vin­cial ind­abas held over the past few weeks are an in­di­ca­tion, the clar­ion call will be unity at the pol­icy con­fer­ence of the ANC start­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg to­day. It’s a call with some merit in view of the frac­tious­ness of the ANC, the broad move­ment and the tri­par­tite al­liance. But it can’t be unity at any cost.

The prob­lems in the ANC have arisen pre­cisely be­cause it has failed to con­front the fun­da­men­tal is­sues fac­ing South Africa. The big­gest is­sue is the in­equal­ity and poverty af­flict­ing the masses of our peo­ple which are di­rectly linked to their ex­clu­sion from the main­stream econ­omy

On the agenda of the pol­icy con­fer­ence are a num­ber of po­si­tion pa­pers, among oth­ers on strat­egy and tac­tics, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ed­u­ca­tion, health, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, leg­is­la­ture and gov­er­nance and so­cial trans­for­ma­tion, peace and sta­bil­ity and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

But at the heart of the ANC’s chal­lenges are rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal. A ma­jor part of the prob­lem is that the lead­ers of the party don’t have a com­mon vi­sion and def­i­ni­tion of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

Some of them, con­trary to all their teach­ings of ap­ply­ing a sci­en­tific anal­y­sis to an un­der­stand­ing of the coun­try’s pol­i­tics and econ­omy, are in de­nial about white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal be­liev­ing it to be a red her­ring and a phrase in­vented by a pub­lic re­la­tions firm in Lon­don. Oth­ers can’t even bring them­selves to say white as part of mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal!

This pol­icy con­fer­ence has the dif­fi­cult but im­por­tant task of firmly and un­am­bigu­ously send­ing a mes­sage to the ANC’s De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion can no longer be post­poned. There has to be a com­mon un­der­stand­ing and ap­proach to it and the elec­tion of a new lead­er­ship that doesn’t “talk left and walk right” on the is­sue.

Go­ing hand in hand with a re­con­struc­tion of the econ­omy is the need for the ANC to rein­vent it­self. There are scores of pro­pos­als on struc­tural changes to the na­tional work­ing and na­tional ex­ec­u­tives com­mit­tees but up­per­most is the restora­tion of the ethos of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, fix­ing the branches and de­ter­min­ing how best to con­nect with the youth and or­di­nary South Africans.

A fail­ure to emerge from the pol­icy and elec­tive con­fer­ences with clear plans and im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion on the key is­sues will be se­verely pun­ished by the elec­torate. The ANC in 2019 will be dealt with like the peo­ple of Nicaragua dealt with the San­din­istas in 1990 by oust­ing them.

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