Dr Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

By Dr Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

Let me declare upfront, I am one among plenty of children, who were born in exile to parents who are members of the ANC. My own journey, predominantly spent in academia, has led me in a different path, beyond partisan politics. On the occasion of the 110th birthday of the ANC, I wish to reflect on the relevance of the organisation in the past 28 years.

My reflection forms part of a shared concern with others, since the countdown to the 2024 national elections has begun. Firstly, the blurred distinction between party and state in South Africa, cannot be understated. Those who read the 32 pages of ANC’s January 8th 2022 Statement, a collective statement of the National Executive Committee of the ANC themed as The Year of Unity and Renewal to Defend and Advance South Africa’s Democratic Gains, may have witnessed the inertia of the ANC. Both supporters and critics alike must contemplate the ANC’s relevance from this year going forward. Part of the latter involves ascertaining the ANC’s use or misuse of words such as ‘renewal’ – addressed as part of ANC’s priorities for 2022.

Clarity is sought beyond confusing the promotion of factionalising assertions via deceptive jargon, first in reference to former president Jacob Zuma’s so-called nine wasted years and now to incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa’s so-called four wasted years. A sobering scenario is that of the ANC’s ‘wasted’ 28 years.

According to this year’s statement “renewal is both about modernising the movement’s internal systems and practises as well as ridding it of elements and practises that disregard its organisational ethos, principles and discipline” (pg.16). As per ANC custom, the latter rhetoric is embarrassing. My rebuttal of the aforesaid may be brought forth in the form of a question: Can the ANC explain why it took so long to realise the necessity of having an Integrity Committee, as recent as in 2018? Also, would the ANC care to share its progress report, on cases that have led to tangible results, as suggested by its broad articulation, in line with its self-defined ‘renewal’.

The South African public can also pose the following question: Why did it have to take former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture Report (2016) to finally compel Zuma to sign the officialisation of what we, since August 2018, have witnessed in our colloquial jargon of The Zondo Commission?  Let’s congratulate the ANC on its 110th anniversary as it is indeed the oldest liberation movement in Africa but our fête must not suffer from amnesia. To be frank, we must recall the ANC’s campaign slogan, &a good story to tell& is part of an ahistorical rhetoric.

This year’s ANC January 8th Statement was presented under four key subheadings:

# South Africa and ANC in 2022 (pgs. 2-5). # Priorities for ANC in 2022 (pgs. 5-24). # Tasks of ANC Structures and Members (pgs. 24-29). # Commemorations and Tributes (pgs. 29-31).

The first part referred to elements that deal with understanding the domestic and global environment. It referred to three various elements of the current status quo, the first was the element of Covid-19 and its repercussions (citing more than 92,000 fatalities and trauma). The second was the severely damaged economy (referred to “millions being unemployed”, “rate of economic recovery not being optimal” and “lack of resources to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Women and the youth bearing such adversity”). Although this is further unpacked in the January 8th Statement, we must ask women and youth groups about their familiarity with ANC or government programmes. 

A Social Compact is proposed as a solution to help revive the economy and the “disturbance of rebuilding the Democratic State after years of State Capture”. If you are interested in securing proof of how lost the ANC has been regarding growing the economy, you can rest assured the proposed Social Compact is consistent with the party’s standard practice on financial matters. The practice lacks original imagination and subscribes to foreign economic models. In case you doubt my take, be reminded about the previous economic policies of the ANC government since 1994. Examples include the Reconstruction and Development Programme under former president Nelson Mandela, the Growth Employment and Redistribution Policy and the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa all under former president Thabo Mbeki. Presently, talks of the National Development Plan (2030) are gradually losing momentum. It will be fascinating to observe, once the announced ANC NEC’s envisaged “Commission to develop a roadmap for the movement toward its 120th anniversary in 2032” is set up at the end of this month. Pardon the back and forth but the latter is a key takeaway, under section two, specifically under the subtitle, Accelerate Fundamental Renewal and Rebuilding of the ANC.

The third element of the present status quo was said to entail “challenges facing the ANC, acknowledgement of ANC structures being in a poor state…many focused on internal organisational conflict, factionalism and furthering individual self-interests rather than aspirations of the communities they are meant to serve”. Here once more the ANC ‘renewal’ was urged. Some blame was amusingly apportioned for the above internal shenanigans to opposition parties. How myopic. All this hints at how the CR17 faction is turning into a CR22 faction. The opposing factions are dubbed as ANC members who are aligned to Radical Economic Transformation. Mindful of such petty posturing, I found the following words quite telling, “No resistance, and even from within our ranks, can force us to abandon the cause of truly being the ANC of the people.” Anyone notes the internal code, declaring whose boss. To be clearer, the CR22 camp will do everything in its might to achieve its ambitions for President Ramaphosa’s re-election in the upcoming ANC’s 55th Conference in December.

Section 3 of the statement covered two points under the tasks of the ANC’s structures and members. Section 3.1 urges ANC members to work toward its renewal and 3.2 emphasises agency to realise the earlier stated Social Compact. All to overcome unemployment, poverty and inequality. The fourth segment is a metaphor of how much the ANC will continue relying on selective memory as they host their commemorations throughout 2022.

Of all those listed, two are of interest to me. The first was the 60th Anniversary of Umkhonto weSizwe. The allegations levelled against ANC officials at the Department of Military Veterans sum up the ANC’s negligence of its own Umkhonto WeSizwe Veterans Association. That is one of the tangible structures, along with the demise of the ANC Youth League, that highlights the ANC NEC’s failure regarding their own comrades. The second tribute is the 10th Anniversary of the Marikana Tragedy, where 44 people were killed by the South African Police, the well-documented role by the incumbent president of the ANC on the latter, consolidates how lopsided the organisation’s true renewal agenda is for fellow South Africans. Aluta Continua has been terminated.

(Dr Tshepo Mvulane Moloi is Postdoctoral Research Fellow Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies (AMCHES) and Research Associate for African Centre for Epistemology and Philosophy of Science)  

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