ANC needs to re­flect

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS -

ON SUNDAY, the African Na­tional Congress, Africa’s old­est lib­er­a­tion move­ment, cel­e­brates its 105th birth­day. The party, which has gov­erned South Africa since the dawn of democ­racy in 1994, also cel­e­brates the cen­te­nary of its long­est serv­ing pres­i­dent and an icon of our strug­gle against apartheid, Oliver Regi­nald Tambo, af­fec­tion­ately known as OR to his com­rades and peers.

De­spite the many chal­lenges it faces, in­clud­ing fac­tion­al­ism and cor­rup­tion in its rank and file, there is a lot for the ANC to cel­e­brate. And on Sunday, we hope that its mem­bers and lead­er­ship will set aside their dif­fer­ences and mark the oc­ca­sion with song and unity while re­flect­ing on the jour­ney the party has taken over the years. It has been a bumpy road, in­deed, but it should also be a learn­ing curve.

It is be­fit­ting that the ANC chose to cel­e­brate this oc­ca­sion in one of the world’s most iconic town­ships, Soweto, the birth­place of the June 16, 1976 Soweto up­ris­ings that changed the face of this coun­try for­ever.

Soweto holds a spe­cial place in the hearts of many South Africans. It is also home to many of the coun­try’s icons, and the only town­ship in the world to pro­duce two No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ates – Nel­son Man­dela and Des­mond Tutu – from the same street in Or­lando West.

How­ever, the cel­e­bra­tions will be in a prov­ince where the ANC has lost power to the op­po­si­tion in two key met­ros in the eco­nomic hub of the coun­try and the con­ti­nent. If any­thing, this should mark the begin­ning of the party re­turn­ing to its roots to re­con­nect with mil­lions of Africans to whom it held so much prom­ise when it won the elec­tions in 1994.

Back then, all of Africa looked up to the ANC – and to the new South Africa – to lead the way as our con­ti­nent deep­ened democ­racy and our peo­ple en­joyed the fruits of free­dom for which many com­pa­tri­ots sac­ri­ficed their lives. But today, even by its own ad­mis­sion, the ANC of John Lan­gal­ibalele Dube, Pix­ley ka Isaka Seme, Al­bert Luthuli, Tambo and Nel­son Man­dela, among other dis­tin­guished leaders, has lost its way. It is a shadow of its former self.

But it would be un­fair to re­duce 105 years of strug­gle to the party’s cur­rent crises. In­stead, the party should use its birth­day cel­e­bra­tions, which come in the year when it also has its pol­icy and elec­tive con­fer­ences, to re­build and re­new it­self.

It must deal de­ci­sively with fac­tion­al­ism, cor­rup­tion and other evils that have eaten away at its val­ues. They must do it for Tambo, Man­dela and those who came be­fore them. They must do it for or­di­nary South Africans and for Africans in gen­eral. They must lis­ten to the peo­ple and smoke out the el­e­ments in their midst who are us­ing the party for self-en­rich­ment.

In 2017, the party must walk the talk on eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, and we hope that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Jan­uary 8 state­ment will set the tone for the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress next month.

Happy birth­day, ANC!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.