ANC’s moment of truth and renewal
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.