The cen­tre is not hold­ing

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE di­ag­nos­tic re­port pre­sented by the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the ANC to the pol­icy con­fer­ence cur­rently in ses­sion in Soweto is a breath of fresh air when it comes to an of­fi­cial anal­y­sis of what is re­ally rip­ping the movement apart.

With­out re­peat­ing the bril­liant anal­y­sis at the cen­tre of the re­port, it is now an in­dis­putable fact that, quite frankly, the cen­tre is not hold­ing. It is the strangest thing if you con­sider all the polemic gym­nas­tics that the ANC lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing Man­tashe, do in pub­lic (in try­ing to pro­ject the cen­tre as hold­ing still); but the re­port con­firms ev­ery­thing that many mem­bers, sup­port­ers and civil so­ci­ety have been say­ing for months to an ANC that has de­cided to close its ears.

The era of de­nials is upon the ANC once again, and this re­port is con­crete proof of that. Those who jump to the blind de­fence of the ANC had to go to ground af­ter this re­port was tabled, and will soon as­cribe the re­port to the fac­tion that they would claim Man­tashe rep­re­sents.

No sur­prises that some of them even tried to block the re­port from be­ing tabled at the con­fer­ence, for spu­ri­ous rea­sons of tra­di­tion. Thank­fully, they lost; and, hope­fully, they will lose dur­ing the pol­icy dis­cus­sions that are on­go­ing.

In sum­mary, the re­port has touched on two crit­i­cal mat­ters that Man­tashe him­self has pre­vi­ously char­ac­terised as the nar­ra­tive of naysay­ers – state cap­ture as well as pol­icy un­cer­tainty.

Let’s deal with the pol­icy un­cer­tainty up­front. When Min­is­ter Ayanda Dlodlo and Tony Yen­geni went on a pol­icy tan­gent about land re­dis­tri­bu­tion, the PR ma­chin­ery went into full drive, as­sur­ing us that there was noth­ing un­to­ward.

The re­al­ity is that the ANC has no idea what to do with this hot potato.

In the open­ing ad­dress, the pres­i­dent couldn’t bring him­self to talk about the heart of the pol­icy mat­ter: ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out con­sul­ta­tion. He didn’t even ven­ture into his ran­dom call for black par­ties to work to­gether to re­solve the is­sue of land. Man­tashe be­moans this spine­less­ness in his re­port when he lambastes the ANC for not hav­ing a proper po­si­tion on this ques­tion.

One hopes that this means the ANC will emerge out of the con­fer­ence with a lot more clar­ity than just lamen­ta­tions of how land-hun­gry black peo­ple are.

Closely linked to this is the much­vaunted slo­gan of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. The re­port in­di­rectly dis­misses this slo­gan for what it is. Man­tashe points out that the ANC has had no strat­egy to make this call a re­al­ity. This is damn­ing.

What is even more damn­ing is the as­ser­tion by Man­tashe that the vocabulary of the ANC, such as ref­er­ence to the na­tional demo­cratic revolution, has all but dis­ap­peared un­der the yoke of ide­o­log­i­cal col­lapse as well as branch and mem­ber­ship weak­nesses.

It is alarm­ing that, while there is this ac­knowl­edge­ment that the branches are weak, the pres­i­dent sought to cast as­per­sions on vet­er­ans who made this ob­ser­va­tion a key ar­gu­ment on why the con­sti­tu­tion of the con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence has to be dif­fer­ent from a nor­mal con­fer­ence, made up of the very branches that every­one agrees are weak – and, in many in­stances, cor­rupted and bought. Clearly, Zuma doesn’t share this di­ag­no­sis of what is wrong with the ANC.

The sec­ond area was to fo­cus on state cap­ture di­rectly, more than any other pro­nounce­ment of the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee be­fore. Man­tashe makes no bones in point­ing out that the ob­fus­ca­tion on this mat­ter must stop. The use of regime change to fudge the is­sue re­ceives a clear dress­ing-down.

Use of white monopoly to di­vert from the state cap­ture is­sue was also con­demned by the re­port. This sails very close to what the Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gen­eral coun­cil noted, through pro­vin­cial lead­ers Paul Mashatile and David Makhura, much to the ir­ri­ta­tion of the im­pli­cated ANC fac­tion.

Even more damn­ing was the ob­ser­va­tion that there is a ten­dency – in re­sponse to se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions – for peo­ple to say “bring the ev­i­dence”, whereas the ev­i­dence is there for all to see, and its sidestep­ping through bland de­nials makes the ANC look like it’s not will­ing to deal with cor­rup­tion. An­other di­rect ref­er­ence to Zuma’s egg dance on is­sues of cor­rup­tion.

The sug­ges­tions made to deal with these cen­tre around or­gan­i­sa­tional unity, but this is woe­fully in­ad­e­quate. Let’s take a brief look at some of them and what they mean:

The loom­ing mo­tion of no-con­fi­dence, the nec­es­sary ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry and the daily Gupta leaks are all men­tioned in the re­port, but are miss­ing in the way for­ward. This damps the re­port but opens the door for the so­lu­tions to come from the con­fer­ence floor.

We wait with bated breath.

AN­A­LYT­I­CAL: ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe has spo­ken out on var­i­ous is­sues at the cur­rent pol­icy con­fer­ence.

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