To survive, the ANC has no other option but to explore more innovative and effective ways to arrest its persistent decline. Photo by Garth Stead/News24

By Mogomotsi Mogodiri

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster for the ANC, with conferences widening schisms within and across its structures. Instead of the build-up that includes the convening of biennial branch general meetings (BBGMs) toward regional and provincial conferences contributing to forging unity and achieving the elusive, oft-punted renewal, we have only witnessed, in horror, meetings disrupted by armed groups or heavily armed private security are seen in and around venues, let alone members being shot at and others losing their lives. If that was not horrendous enough, ANC members have disregarded the hyped “step aside rule” by not only nominating but also electing those who have stepped aside from leadership positions. This move has had the unintended consequence of making a mockery of the “step aside rule”.
This ugly turn of events compelled the ANC NEC to amend guidelines in a desperate attempt to slam the breaks on a proverbial horse that has already bolted. The ANC needs to draw hard lessons from the conferences of the recent past, particularly the so-called MK All-Inclusive Unity and the Eastern Cape provincial conferences. Failure of delegates to these conferences to engage seriously and meaningfully on substantive issues, including policy, has to raise the alarm. Lamenting these saddening developments, one seasoned cadre of the movement had this to say: “The ANC is no more… failing to discuss politics makes the ANC equal to what the Nats of apartheid were…at least they knew the target and what to do.”
This brutal comparison and conclusion can only point to Brand ANC having floundered and taken a thorough beating – to such an extent that even long-serving members have lost hope in it.
A lack of serious policy discussion, if any, has led to the ANC being in an untenable position of confusion and uncertainty. While disappointing, it is nonetheless not surprising that the ANC flip flops on policy, at best or its policies have been re-engineered and repurposed to preserve and entrench whiteness.
In short, the prognosis does not look good and all ANC members need to be alarmed by the pathetic state of their organisation. It is a sad state of affairs that needs urgent and decisive attention.
The ANC should drop the nauseating pretence. All its conferences discuss nothing of substance except to vote for the one who pays them. We are in a shameful state. For the ANC to regain some semblance of respectability, credibility and integrity, it will have to drop the irritating pretence. Conferences have become “elective conferences in a true sense of the word. The elective conference is taken literally”.
Members and leaders alike go there for elections and other matters, including policy deliberations, take a back seat, if attended to at all. It is mind-boggling that we are persisting with something that only brings grief and contributes to exterminating the ANC. It is Albert Einstein who described insanity as “doing the same thing repeatedly but hoping for different results”. To survive, the ANC has no other option but to explore more innovative and effective ways to arrest its persistent decline. If not, history will either thrust it onto a different but more complex path or get extinct, given the existential crisis that is trapped in.
Therefore, a properly-convened national consultative conference (NCC) is the most viable way out of the rut. The NCC will be a platform to, among others, review progress or lack thereof of the past 28 years, what has led to the ANC plunging into this ever-deepening crisis that threatens its very existence and reimagine the ANC. We will then agree on an implementable plan that will give it a fighting chance of survival in the short-term. In this regard, a proper and honest examination, adaptation, adoption and implementation of the “ANC Turnaround Strategy 2025 – Changing the course of history” is but the starting point. To stubbornly insist on a discredited and destructive template of elective conferences at all cost and any price is not only foolhardy but suicidal. If the leadership knows something we members do not know, they will be obstinate and not listen and continue to disregard the sound of reason that has reached a crescendo. Unfortunately, time is no longer on the ANC’s side. It either changes course or dies, and these elective conferences might be where the last rites are performed.

Mogomotsi Mogodiri is an ANC member and media specialist

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