Sickly ANC needs ur­gent care

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - RAY MCCAULEY

Pas­tor Ray McCauley is the pres­i­dent of Rhema Fam­ily Churches and co-chair­man of the Na­tional Re­li­gious Lead­ers Coun­cil

AS THE na­tion’s gaze re­mains fo­cused on the ANC’s fifth pol­icy con­fer­ence un­der way at Nas­rec in Jo­han­nes­burg, glim­mers of hope are emerg­ing that it might save it­self and South Africa in the process. If it doesn’t, it can rest as­sured South Africans will save them­selves from the ANC in 2019.

The first ray of hope came from what seems to have been a can­did or­gan­i­sa­tional-di­ag­nos­tics re­port by the ANC’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe. His re­port, a de­par­ture from the of­ten neb­u­lous one of the past that sought to pa­per over cracks and speak in gen­eral and col­lec­tive terms, went into spe­cific chal­lenges: The rep­u­ta­tional dam­age to the ANC caused by the Gup­tas, the in­ex­pli­ca­ble cab­i­net reshuf­fle, the leaked e-mails and the Nkandla mat­ter. Good start, Mr Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral.

Doc­tors tell us it is im­por­tant to know what we have be­fore it can be treated. What’s scary is that thou­sands die daily due to er­rors in di­ag­noses. Some, some­what for­tu­nate, wake up in an am­bu­lance en route to hospi­tal to be ex­posed to un­nec­es­sary tests with un­nec­es­sary side ef­fects be­cause of an ini­tial mis­di­ag­no­sis.

The ANC is not dead but Man­tashe’s di­ag­no­sis might just have saved it a trip in an am­bu­lance – that is, if it ac­cepts the di­ag­no­sis and starts treat­ment im­me­di­ately.

The party suf­fers from a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion; some­thing has rup­tured and is leak­ing in­fected fluid through­out its anatomy. It is an in­fec­tion of cor­rup­tion and greed, wors­ened by a preda­tory elite (the Gup­tas are not alone in their mis­de­meanours) act­ing in con­cert with some lead­ers of the rul­ing party who have a vul­gar con­cep­tion of moral­ity and ac­count­abil­ity. Ei­ther the ANC deals with this in­fec­tion or it de­gen­er­ates fur­ther and ul­ti­mately dies.

The sec­ond sparkle of hope that things might im­prove comes from a sen­ti­ment re­port­edly ex­pressed by Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu on the side­lines of the con­fer­ence. Speak­ing to a Sun­day news­pa­per, she called on the ANC to ex­pel any of its mem­bers im­pli­cated in, and proved guilty of, in­volve­ment in the dirt com­ing out of the Gupta-leaked e-mails. Now, there is some­one who un­der­stands ac­count­abil­ity and con­se­quence man­age­ment. And it helps com­ing from some­one who has been in pub­lic of­fice for more than 20 years, first as a deputy min­is­ter and then as a min­is­ter, with­out a blem­ish on her record.

I do hope the ANC takes her view on ac­count­abil­ity and con­se­quence man­age­ment to heart. Un­less the ANC holds its own ac­count­able for the val­ues and stan­dards it sets, no one is go­ing to take it se­ri­ously. The re­al­ity is that with­out con­se­quence man­age­ment, you are not lead­ing but are cre­at­ing chaos. And that is what we see in the rul­ing party. That is why you can have an ANC min­is­ter pro­nounc­ing on a pol­icy that the rul­ing party later dis­tances it­self from – such as hap­pened with the min­ing trans­for­ma­tion charter. Such chaos ex­ists in an en­vi­ron­ment in which ex­pec­ta­tions have ei­ther not been com­mu­ni­cated or peo­ple are ig­nor­ing them, know­ing there will be no con­se­quences.

The ANC must rein in its own and ap­ply ap­pro­pri­ate con­se­quences when its mem­bers or de­ployed cadres have not lived up to its ex­pec­ta­tions or val­ues.

In the process of deal­ing with the ills within the ANC, let us not lose sight that this is a pol­icy con­fer­ence.

As South Africans, we are look­ing for poli­cies that will take our coun­try from the quag­mire into a pros­per­ous fu­ture that we can all share. In­equal­ity re­mains an ugly fea­ture of our demo­cratic era. We are in a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion and junk sta­tus. Can the ANC del­e­gates rise to the party’s claimed sta­tus as a leader of society and come up with poli­cies that will lift us out of the sit­u­a­tion?

For the or­di­nary res­i­dent of Alexan­dra or Gugulethu, can they look up to the pol­icy con­fer­ence to come up with pol­icy that will im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery in their town­ship? In a coun­try where women and chil­dren in par­tic­u­lar, and ci­ti­zens in gen­eral, are ei­ther not safe or don’t feel safe, can they rely on the 3 500 del­e­gates at Nas­rec to come up with poli­cies that will im­prove their safety?

Re­cent re­ports have shown that the un­em­ploy­ment rate in­creased to 27.7% in the first quar­ter of this year from 26.5% in the pre­vi­ous pe­riod. It is the high­est job­less­ness rate since the first quar­ter of 2004 as un­em­ploy­ment rose faster than em­ploy­ment and more peo­ple joined the labour force. This is af­fect­ing largely our youth who face a dou­ble whammy as some can­not ac­cess higher or fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties. Can the ANC’s pol­icy con­fer­ence of­fer hope to our youth?

I wish the ANC well in its de­lib­er­a­tions and prayer­fully hope that these will be char­ac­terised by what is in the best in­ter­ests of the coun­try.

DIS­SEC­TION: The first ray of hope at the ANC pol­icy con­fer­ence that the party in­tended to get bet­ter came from a can­did re­port by the ANC’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, says the writer.

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