ANC, it’s now or never

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

TO­DAY the gov­ern­ing party’s fifth na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence gets un­der way in Nas­rec, Joburg. Com­ing as it does against the back­drop of an eco­nomic cri­sis, a jobs blood­bath, pol­icy un­cer­tainty and the rat­ings down­grades, the ANC’s pol­icy ind­aba is a cru­cial mo­ment for the con­ti­nent’s old­est lib­er­a­tion move­ment to show it can pull the coun­try out of this po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic morass.

Since its last pol­icy con­fer­ence in 2012, many things have changed in terms of the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic dy­nam­ics in the coun­try, and the party of Oliver Regi­nald Tambo and Nel­son Man­dela faces pos­si­bly its big­gest test: to trans­form and adapt to the chal­lenges of to­day.

There is no doubt that the ANC goes to the pol­icy con­fer­ence as a shadow of its for­mer self, rocked by deep-seated divi­sions, cor­rup­tion among its rank and file, and a gen­eral de­cline in trust among vot­ers.

The re­sults of the last lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, in which it lost three key met­ros – Nel­son Man­dela Bay, Tsh­wane and Joburg – to a coali­tion of op­po­si­tion par­ties, should be a wake-up call for the ANC.

Its con­tin­ued lead­er­ship of South Africa be­yond the 2019 elec­tions will de­pend on how the poli­cies the ANC crafts at this year’s ind­aba will res­onate with the many chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try to­day. Its poli­cies must speak to the chal­lenges faced by our peo­ple.

Even from within its own struc­tures, strong­est back­ers and al­lies, in­clud­ing some among its veter­ans of the Strug­gle, the mes­sage is clear that the party faces its demise un­less it changes the cur­rent tra­jec­tory and ends the rot in its ranks.

Party del­e­gates also meet at a time when the emer­gence of the Gupta emails have plunged the coun­try into a state of shock at just how far some com­rades will go to sell con­trol of the state to pow­er­ful in­di­vid­u­als in ex­change for self­en­rich­ment.

State cap­ture is no doubt go­ing to be a ma­jor elec­tion is­sue for the party in 2019, and how it deals with the is­sue to­day will de­fine how it per­forms at the polls.

The anger among the peo­ple is deep­en­ing and can­not be ig­nored any longer.

The ANC must emerge from its pol­icy con­fer­ence with a road map to drive the coun­try out of these chal­lenges. The time for talk and rhetoric is over. Now is the time for the ANC to show it can lead.

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