Reverend Frank Chikane presented a document titled ‘Saving the Soul of the ANC’ to the national officials of the ruling party. Here is an executive summary of the document:
THE SOUL OF THE ANC UNDER ATTACK
The Soul of the ANC is under severe attack not from external forces as we would have thought, but from its own members and leaders. At the beginning, and in our regular ‘balance of forces’ analysis since the unbanning of the liberation movements, we expected the attack and threats to come from external (counter-revolutionary) forces and did not think much about internal threats, which can be considered as ‘counter-revolutionary’. In fact, we missed the point that the counter-revolutionary project could be planted within the Movement itself.
Now, it is clear that the greatest threat to the soul of the Movement is from its own members and leaders who are being corrupted and transformed into self-serving agents (members and leaders). This attack is like a cancer that slowly makes its way into the very soul of the organisation threatening its critical organs, and thus its very being, life and existence.
There is no gainsaying that this development is a great threat to the national democratic revolution (NDR), the premier strategic objective of the ANC, to create a just and equitable economic and social order in a post-apartheid South Africa. Instead it benefits the few at the expense not only of the people but the future of the organisation (itself) and the country. This is clearly a polar opposite of the NDR. In this Project getting into the leadership of the organisation at any level puts one in the front seat to benefit oneself – even at the expense of the people, including those who voted them into power. That is why elections in the organisation have become a ‘life and death’ matter to an extent that members are ready to use any means, including corrupt and violent means to get to that seat (to gain power).
This development is slowly changing the character of the Movement (ANC) and that of its members and leaders. And, because of this change, trends and feelings from the ground suggest a worrying loss of confidence in the organisation and a dangerous downward trend that could lead to a loss of the position of leadership of the organisation which it earned for itself by standing for and serving the people.
As you would expect I spend much of my time with people on the ground in the course of the execution of my responsibilities as a Pastor. This is mainly in the township (where the majority of the people are members of the ANC)); within churches in general (where I am invited to speak); within the member-churches of the SACC (where I am a Senior Deputy President); with up and coming’ black middle class that missed the liberation struggle by virtue of age; and with some of our comrades from minority communities; and so forth. The overwhelming majority of them are distressed about what is happening within the ANC and the country, notwithstanding the successes Government has achieved since 1994. To many of these people, the ANC (which they love so much) has radically changed from the movement they know and has been or is being transformed into a foreign entity they no longer can recognise. Some who are more distressed feel that they are no longer able – in good conscience – to identify with the organisation or vote for it.
My submission is that if this downward turn or trend, and loss of confidence, is not curbed it will turn into a free fall mode ending with the ANC possibly:
(1) Losing some of the Metros and/or major cities in about one to five years;
(2) Losing some Provinces in the next four to nine years; and
(3) Losing a national election in the next nine to fourteen years or so.
It is generally known that liberation movements in history tend to lose their ‘shine’ and influence within twenty years or so of taking power. What is of significance though is that leaders of these movements head in that direction without raising critical questions about the trajectory they were following. In most instances they live in the past, honestly believing in their own ways of doing things and propaganda, and see nothing wrong until the house falls on their heads. In some cases they do not want to raise such questions because it would work against their personal interests or that of their factions, family and friends. At worst ‘comrades leaders’ reach a stage where it becomes risky (and career limiting) to raise critical questions about their leadership core, particularly about those who head the organisation. They go along even when they know that they were heading for a disaster. Some become ‘good gamblers’ who take sides with whoever is likely to win (in a scramble for power) to secure their self-interests rather than those of the people and the organisation.
RIGHTS OF MEMBERS TO EXPRESS CONCERNS ABOUT THEIR ORGANISATION
Although the Constitution of the ANC (under the “Rights and Duties of Members”) states clearly that members of the ANC are “entitled to offer constructive criticism of any member, official, policy programme or activity of the ANC” (Rule 5.1.3), my experience is that members and even leaders (including Veterans of the Movement) are scared (afraid) to exercise this right and duty because of the consequences which may follow (loss of position; jeopardising their chances for the future; loss of tenders; closure of opportunities; making family members vulnerable; and risk of losing one’s life). If one is bold enough to raise critical questions one is likely to be considered as ‘disloyal’ or part of the ‘enemy camp’. The definition of ‘enemy camp’ here is anyone who is critical about the trajectory the movement was taking or about the behaviour and conduct of the leadership which is not serving the interests of the people or safeguarding the organisation’s future. Of course, they have to consider one as an enemy if one threatens their interests by being critical about their behaviour and conduct.
Experience shows that if this trend is not curbed and the organisation turns into a free fall mode, violent, fraudulent, and unconstitutional means are used to remain in power to defend the ill-gotten interests and ensure they never go to jail. Here assassinations begin to be the order of the day. Fundamental principles of the Constitution (of the ANC and of the country) are violated and institutions established to protect our democracy undermined or factionalised. Parliament ceases to be the gathering of the people as envisaged in the Freedom Charter, and is reduced to being a caucus of the Executive or a faction of the Party. And at the end, the electoral systems are corrupted. Once this begins to happen that is the beginning of the end (endgame) of our democracy we fought for and many died for.
I would like to submit that there are enough signals today that suggest that we are heading in that direction. And, once we reach that state no one will be able to turn the tide, including those who triggered it or are in the centre of this Project. In this regard it is important to remind comrades about the following words of wisdom: “Do not start a fire you cannot put off!” I would say that we should not allow this fire to grow to a level where we cannot put it off. For me ‘Ke nako’ (this is the time) to STOP THIS FIRE and PUT IT OFF.
Interestingly, everyone I talk to agrees that the organisation is under threat but no one knows what to do. In fact, most South Africans behave like people who are going through a nightmare. They can see the danger (threat) closing on them … they try to scream and they can’t; they try to wave for help, but they can’t lift their hands; they try to run, but can’t! My experience is that at the beginning (the first fifteen years or so it used to be white countrymen and women who complained whenever they met me. Now it is blacks – blacks everywhere! Although nightmares can be normal reaction to stress (distress), fear and extreme anxiety – and some would say healthy – but a continuous (frequent) occurrence of nightmares with a recurring theme can lead to ‘nightmare disorders’. This we must avoid at all costs.
My view is that we must shake the ANC (country), and get it to break out of the continuous nightmarish feeling and TAKE A STAND TO SAVE THE MOVEMENT AND THE COUNTRY. We must break out of the continuous nightmarish feeling and begin to DREAM ABOUT THE FUTURE WE WANT! We must defend our dream of a non-racial, non-sexist, just and equitable democratic South Africa many laid their lives down for. We must not allow a few ‘powerful’ people amongst us who are in control of the organisation to destroy our future.
A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE DOWNWARD TREND
We need to be aware that a major contributor to this downward trend is the corrosive and corrupting power of incumbency (what has come to be popularly known as the ‘sins of incumbency’). In this regard I am one of those who honestly believed that a cadre of the ANC (Cadres of the Movement) was (were) ‘not corruptible’ given the challenges they were able to face head-on during the struggle for liberation irrespective of dire consequences. We also believed that ANC members were not ‘on sale’ as no money could buy them away from their commitment to the liberation struggle! No temptation could make them abandon the struggle.
The experience of the last twenty one years has proved us wrong. We now know that comrades are not ‘angels’. They are as corruptible as any other human being. It is worse when they gain control of the levers of power and are exposed to opportunities to enrich themselves. In fact, power and the sin of incumbency have transformed comrades and turned them into looters at the expense of the poor and historically disadvantaged. What is more frightening is that comrades are prepared to do this even when they know that this would collapse the organisation or make it to lose an election! Their attitude is that it does not matter as it will collapse when they have looted enough and gone!
My submission is that this behaviour of members and leaders to serve their interests at the expense of the people, and the consequential way in which they then manage Government to secure these interest, is responsible for the increasing ANGLE OF DEVIATION from what the ANC WAS AND SHOULD BE thus gradually losing the confidence of the masses of our people and consequently its leadership in society.
To stop this downturn radical decisions will need to be made to turn the organisation around and chart a new trajectory of growth and development for the people of South Africa. The NATIONAL GENERAL COUNCIL (NGC) scheduled for next month should offer the organisation AN OPPORTUNITY to adopt such a strategy and roll it out immediately to win the confidence of the people. And, the roll out of this (turnaround) strategy must happen before the 2016 local Government Election if the organisation is to be saved!
MY JOURNEY TO LUTHULI HOUSE
It is this concern about the threat to the very soul of the ANC and the risk thereof to the future of the country that made me to decide (two years or so ago) to get on a journey to Luthuli House to try against all odds to save the soul of the movement for the sake of the future of the country and its people. And, I do this as a disciplined cadre of the movement who has no interest in discrediting the organisation but to save it from those who are bent on destroying it.
I have agonised over time about this matter and I could not suppress the feeling of guilt that those of us who are genuine members of the movement and have been in the leadership for a long time have a greater responsibility to intervene and ensure that this glorious organisation of the people is not destroyed by those who are bend on serving their interests at all costs. I believe that those of us who used our integrity and commitment to the struggle to mobilise the people to join the movement do not have the luxury of ‘throwing our hands up’ and ‘walking away’ – leaving the people in a mess. We are accountable to them and do not have a choice but to intervene and redirect the organisation to what it should be.
I do this as a cadre of the movement who knows as to how long and how perilous this journey could be. Having been part of this movement for more than forty (40) years, most of which was during President OR Tambo’s time, one cannot miss the ever widening angle of deviation from what the ANC should be. The ever widening angle is right in our faces! It is like a gaping wound (angle) whose pain is deep.
I must declare from the onset that my reference point is the ANC of OR Tambo (I know better) which was about the people (particularly the poor and oppressed) and not about itself (self-interests of its members and leaders). This ANC of OR Tambo existed for the people and not for itself. To put it differently, my reference point is an ANC that is about justice for all (particularly for the poor, the vulnerable and disadvantaged) and not just for its members and leaders as it seems to be today.
As a disciplined cadre of the movement I also take seriously Rule 5.1.3 of the Constitution of the ANC that allows one to “Offer constructive criticism of any member, official, policy, programme or activity of the ANC WITHIN its STRUCTURES.” Secondly, I also understand that I have to “submit proposals or statements to the branch, province, region or the NEC” and that these should be submitted through ‘the appropriate structures’ (Rule 5.1.5) which I have been doing and I now do through this written submission. It is for this reason that my journey to Luthuli House has been so long, as I had to start from the Branch to the Region and the Province before this submission to you as the top leaders of the organisation.
I also work on the understanding that the POLICIES of the organisation are DETERMINED by its MEMBERSHIP, and that its LEADERSHIP is ACCOUNTABLE to its MEMBERSHIP in terms of the procedures laid down in the Constitution (Rule 3.2). In this regard I expect the leadership to give a member like myself a hearing as they are expected to be ‘accountable’ to their members in terms of the Constitution. I am saddened though that I have not been granted an opportunity to talk to you directly as leaders for the last two months and three weeks since I asked for such a meeting, and, because of the urgency of the matter I have decided to present my concerns to you in writing.
I have tried my best to keep my journey to Luthuli House and this submission from the media as I wanted to ensure that this discussion is undertaken within the structures of the Movement (in terms of the Constitution) before it became a public issue. But after addressing the Johannesburg Veterans League (June 2015) and facilitating a Branch Workshop on “Self-Criticism and a Winning ANC” (August 2015) the media caught wind of it. But I have said that I will not talk to them until I have completed ‘My Journey’ and reached Luthuli House. After a formal interview with one young journalist some time ago (about another matter) she ask me a troubling question (off the record): “How do you feel Reverend to be part of the ANC in the light of what was happening?” I answered that ‘I do not feel good at all, but I was on a journey’ which I said she will hear about at the right time. For now it had to be WITHIN THE STRUCTURES of the movement.
Indeed I have taken a long route not only to meet the requirements of the Constitution but to also exercise my right as a member to express my concerns about the risks the movement is facing. Once more and more members of the movement get confronted by issues they cannot (rationally) explain to the ordinary citizen in the country it suggests that ‘KE NAKO’ (it’s the time) to RAISE these matters FIRMLY and FEARLESSLY with the leadership. In fact, if the leadership is a genuine leadership of the movement there should be no risk to genuine members who raise concerns within the structures of the movement, although experience suggest otherwise. Many of my comrades have warned me that I was on a dangerous journey that could be ‘terribly risky’. Notwithstanding these warnings. I have decided to go ahead and raise my concerns, whatever the costs, as I believe that THIS IS A LIFE AND DEATH MATTER for the people of this country! In short ‘Ke nako’!
Accordingly, and given this reality, I had to contend with the concerns of my family, especially my brothers and sisters (who are themselves cadres of the Movement) because of the risks involved, not for me alone but for my immediate family and for them, given previous experiences. My response (which some were not happy about) was that I would have to ‘REINVENT’ myself to be able to keep quiet when so much wrong is happening in my Movement and when such wrongs are threatening the future of the country.
Unfortunately silence for me is not an option. Silence would be tantamount to a betrayal of those who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of this country. The truth is, it does not make sense for me to pay the price I paid during the liberation struggle – detention, torture, being poisoned and so on – together with my comrades (many of whom lost their lives) and then be quiet now. If no amount of risk could stop us during the struggle I do not see how this should be the case now, especially when it is comrades who are involved.
Ordinary people in the Church, in the streets of our townships, at airports, and even airhostesses in flight and police man and women at strategic control points, all take a moment to ask as to what we were doing about the crisis the ANC and the country were facing. And these are people, in the main, who love the movement (ANC), the country and its people. My public profile, unfortunately, does not help in this regard as I become an easy target for venting these concerns and frustrations.
As I have said earlier, my journey to Luthuli House has been long – from the Branch to the Region, and then Province! I consider this submission to you as having arrived at Luthuli House to present my concerns to you as the top leadership of our movement (the Top Six) with a hope that my concerns will not only be heard but will be taken seriously. I still expect though that I will be given a hearing to speak to you directly. Whether I am given a hearing or not, my expectation and hope is that the leadership will agree that it is time (‘Ke Nako’) to CHANGE the TRAJECTORY of the movement immediately to save the ANC and the people of this country from a pending disaster. The change has to be ‘immediate’ as we do not have time. We must put on the emergency driving gears to quickly steer the movement out of danger. We must act as if we were treating a patient who is about to lose his or her life (a life threatening condition).
My appeal to you is that we must reset the button – press the reset button and take the organisation to where it should be – being aware that many of our comrades who are on this angle of deviation will be misaligned. We must call on them to realign or risk going on a tangent away from the organisation. We must give notice that no member of the organisation (however powerful will be allowed to drag the organisation along the trajectory that threatens its life and being. We must call on the genuine members of the organisation to come back – return to the Branch as a primary unit of the organisation – to defend the organisation from there and ensure that no one can manipulate the processes of electing leaders.
I wish to also state that I take seriously my ‘solemn declaration’ as a member “to work towards making the ANC an even more effective instrument of liberation in the hands of the people, and that I will defend the unity and integrity of the organisation and its principles, and combat any tendency towards disruption and factionalism (Rule 4.15) as I do now.
CONSULTATIONS WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE BRANCH: LILIESLEAF FARM
I started my journey where I should start, with the leadership of my Branch, that is, the Lilies Leaf Farm Branch. The Leadership of the Branch treated me in a manner that is befitting of a Branch that is still the reigning Sol Plaatjie Award Winner. In this Branch “the principle of freedom of speech and free circulation of ideas and information” is upheld and allowed to operate WITHIN THE Branch (Rule 3.7). The Branch is known for creating spaces for ‘a festival of ideas’. It invites speakers within and outside the ANC, including those who hold different views to engage with them. In this regard it is not influenced by factional tendencies within the movement. Over time, factional types of interventions were defeated by members exercising their constitutional right to express their views and feeling without fear or favour. In fact I would now hazard to say that the Branch has become (for me) the closest approximation of what the ANC and its character should be.
I am pleased that the leadership of my Branch did not only give me a hearing (more than a year ago and at subsequent meetings) but went further to express their support for the manner in which I was pursuing this matter as a disciplined cadre of the movement. They offered me an opportunity to address the Branch about my concerns but wisdom dictated that we hold on this opportunity until I had completed my journey from the Branch to the top leadership of the movement. They wished me well on this journey to Luthuli House, which I did not think would be so long at the time.
Unfortunately I could not hold back the Branch because of the length of time I had to wait for a meeting with you. On the 15 August 2015 I facilitated a Workshop of the Branch on the theme “Self-Criticism and a Winning ANC”. I attach here the Power point Presentation I used at the Workshop which was well received. My expectation is that the Branch will use the outcomes of the Workshop to feed in within the processes and structures of the ANC which should reach the National General Council (NGC) meeting by next month.
CONSULTATIONS WITH VETERANS OF THE MOVEMNT
Before my consultations with the leadership of the Branch I had started an informal consultative process with every veteran of the ANC I could meet or reach about my concerns relating to the state of the nation and the movement. I did so because I believed that the crisis the movement was facing needed the Elders (veterans) of the movement to intervene at a leadership level of the organisation. I was of the view that when everything had failed the Elders would be the only ones who could engage the leadership (without fear) to urge them to change the trajectory they were following to save the organisation and the nation. Besides, it was clear that there was paralysis amongst the leadership as they seemed (at least from outside or at face value) that they were not able to confront matters that affected the organisation, especially those matters that affected some of those who are in leadership together with them.
The Memorial Service of Comrade Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in December 2013 brought the highest number of Veterans in one place (the Presidential Suite) than ever before, and, we took advantage of it to consult in an informal way on the state of the movement (ANC) and of the nation. We even found some other Veterans who were in other suites to pursue this discussion. The embarrassing scenes of the ‘booing’ of the President in the presence of international guest spurred this discussions even further within the Presidential Suite and elsewhere. The booing was embarrassing, troubling and nerve wracking for many of the Veterans who were there. They wished that the ground would swallow them up to save them from this embarrassment.
All the Veterans one talked to both within the Presidential Suite and elsewhere agreed (without any exception) that ‘WE ARE NOT OK’ or that the movement was not ‘OK’! There was an effort (in our minds) to separate the organisation (ANC) from the behaviour, conduct, and disposition of some of its leadership and members at many levels, but this was very difficult as the behaviour, conduct, and their disposition as well as their management of matters that affect the organisation and Government impacted negatively on the image, integrity and character of the ANC.
In these discussions all agreed that ‘SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE’ but none could produce a viable strategy to address this challenging situation as a matter of urgency. Faced with the question: ‘What should be done?’ the answer was, ‘Yoh!’ or ‘eish!’, ‘I REALLY DON’T KNOW’. This was like a refrain. Some tried to appeal to history, that even when the worst had happened the movement always ‘self-corrected’, and many were waiting for that moment. But the risk was that it may not ‘self-correct’ because of the entrenched ‘self-interests’ which are driving the behaviour. One has to accept that this was not the case in the past. The reality is that the character of the member of the organisation (and even some of its leaders) has changed making them incapable of ‘self-correcting’.
For many of the Veterans the fear of being misunderstood (within and outside the ANC) blocked their thinking faculties and strategic perspectives. Many would say that there is a risk of ‘being misunderstood’ or ‘classified as factional’. Many were concerned that engaging openly on these critical matters could lead to doubts about their ‘loyalty’ to the Movement.
The major challenge though was that many of Veterans were poor and vulnerable. Their hierarchy of needs changed as they grew older to basic needs for survival without much energy to deal with the political challenges the movement was facing. Indeed we should not be expecting them to do this at that age. But the nature of the crisis required them as well to do whatever they can still do to save their Movement. In a discussion where one of the Officials of the Veterans League was present we were given a ‘lecture’ or educated about the differences between: (1) Members of the Veterans League (who generally could not make ends meet as they were generally poor and struggling to meet their basic needs to survive, including medication), and (2) What was called the ‘super veterans’ (the privileged and well known) who were not, in the main, members of the Veterans League. The question that was put to us was ‘how could we expect the vulnerable members of the Veterans League to even think about intervening with the national leadership of the movement when no one seemed to care about their welfare?’ Some said that at worst veterans were being mobilised to support one faction or another, thus making them part of the problem.
Following this question and discussions we all committed ourselves to ensure that, firstly, we were all formal members of the Veterans League notwithstanding the frustrations some expressed about trying to be members of the League in terms of the red tape and inefficiencies in the system. Secondly, that we help to mobilise all Veterans of the movement to become members of the Veterans League. And third, that we assist and participate in developing strategies and programmes to deal with the needs of those Veterans who were vulnerable.
In pursuit of this objective I asked the leadership of my Branch (Liliesleaf Farm) to facilitate a meeting of the Veterans within the Branch, which they did. Our next target was to mobilise Veterans of the movement within the Zonal structure where the Branch belongs – which happened with a plan for further meetings. The Johannesburg Region of the ANC also facilitated a representative meeting of Veterans of the movement within the Region, which was held on the 4th July 2015. I was invited by the Region to address the meeting. The Hall was packed to capacity by real Veterans of the movement. One thing was clear from that meeting, that the Veterans knew exactly what the ANC should be and were gravely concerned about where we were. The down-ward trend of graphs relating to election results were a great concern and they felt that something had to be done to stop this trend. They agreed to discuss these matters within their Branches to make sure that these were processed through the structures of the organisation for urgent action before the National General Council (NGC). It was expected that the same would happen at the Provincial level.
We followed this procedure (via the structures of the movement) to ensure that the meetings were not and could not be perceived or construed as factional, especially because we were on a journey to neutralise the very factions within the movement.
CONSULTATIONS WITH THE REGIONAL (JHB) AND PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP OF THE ANC
Between March and May I had an opportunity to take my journey to the Officials of the Johannesburg Region and the Province of Gauteng. At the time when I reached the Provincial leadership I thought there would have been Veterans who were ready to join me on this mission, but that was not to be because of challenges I have referred to above. The Johannesburg Region of the Veterans’ League opted for the formal approach through their Branches which would lead to inputs at the national level.
The leadership at these levels received me well and gave me a hearing. In general they agreed with me about the concerns I was raising and were pleased that Veterans of the movement were taking on the issues they are also concerned about. They were of the view that the involvement of Veterans would make members of the movement, particularly the leadership, to take seriously the challenges the movement was facing and do whatever is possible to turn (what I would like to call) the ‘titanic’ around, given the size of the movement and the multiple layers of leadership, structures and challenges.
Both the Regional and Provincial leadership talked about the costs of ‘the straight and narrow way’ in defence of the movement and the revolution. The Provincial leadership, in particular, indicated the challenges they were facing and the efforts they were making to get the ANC to be what it should be. They also indicated that some of the positions they have taken in defence of the honoured traditions of the movement had been costly for the Province and its leadership. They felt that the involvement of Veterans could assist in this regard. Both the Province and the Region promised to assist us by facilitating meetings of all Veterans in Johannesburg and the Province. The Region as we have said has already organised such a meeting.
Both Provincial and Regional leadership wished me well on my journey to Luthuli House. This included the mission to mobilise all the Veterans of the movement.
My submission to you (as I have said at the beginning) is that the trajectory the ANC was following or is ‘made’ to follow is dangerous and threatens the very existence and future of the organisation and thereby the country. I would like to submit that the angle of deviation of this trajectory from what the ANC should be (the reference point) is growing by the day and that the magnitude of this angle is the measure of the distance with which the organisation is drifting away from the people and losing their confidence.
In a Tribute I delivered at the memorial service of the Veteran of our struggle for liberation and renowned mathematician, Cde Prof Ismael Mohamed, in July 2013 I proposed that we “construct a mathematical formula of political group theory” (to use language similar to that of the Heineken-Mohamed theorems which was his contribution in the field of Mathematics) which I called the ‘Mohamed & Peers Mathematical Formula’ to “put each one of us (from top to bottom)” through it to measure our ‘angles of deviation’ from the ideals of the ANC and those of our predecessor (Ismael Mohamed, Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Albertina Sisulu, Helen Joseph, Govan Mbeki, …. and so forth).
I proposed then that those who were found to have deviated from what is understood as the ‘ANC line’ should be ‘given a chance to make amend(s)’. I further proposed that “those who do not just fail this test but fail to make amends must never be allowed to get closer to the levers of power or the resources of the nation, unless we want to lose the ‘national democratic revolution’ which Prof Mohamed and his peers bequeathed to us”.
I would like to submit that if we do not do this or if nothing is done to change this trajectory, the angle of deviation will reach dangerous proportions (the critical point being 90 degrees). Beyond this point the organisation will permanently drift further away from the people or slip into a free fall mode (beyond the 90 degrees mark).
The election results trajectory since 1994 are informative in this regard. For the national election in 1994 the ANC won by 62.65%. This was not surprising as there was a huge campaign, including activities beyond the control of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), to make sure that the ANC did not get a two-thirds majority. From there on the electoral support of the ANC grew to 66.4% in 1999 and reached the heights of about 70% (69.7%) in 2004. This was a clear indication of the growth of confidence of the masses of the people in the movement. Even those who were opposed to the ANC had turned around and developed confidence in the ANC. At that point the ANC really looked unstoppable.
The downward trend clearly began after the unfortunate events leading to and following the Polokwane Conference in 2007, taking us to 65.9% in 2009 and 62.15% at the last election in 2014. This put us below the 1994 starting point, that is, the worst since our freedom in 1994. Obviously, one would not have a rupture of the nature of the Polokwane Conference and not suffer the consequences.
At a provincial level the statistics generally showed the same trends. One need only look at the case of Gauteng: 57.6% (1994); 67.85% (1999); 68.40% (2004); 64.04% (2009); and 53.59% (2014).
The statistics speak for themselves. If there is no change in the manner in which we present the ANC to the people or position it, the downward trend is likely to continue taking the ANC to below the 60% mark at the next national election. From there on anything becomes possible. The only way to explain this is that the people were losing confidence in their own organisation.
KEY FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DOWNWARD TREND
The key elements responsible for the downward trend for me are, among others:
(1) The manner in which the organisation is presented or presents itself to the people. The current perception is that the ANC is about its members, friends and factions, and at worst about its leaders. It is perceived as an organisation that serves the interests of the few who are strategically placed within the organisation and not the people.
(2) The perception or real experiences that suggest that the ANC was rotten to the core. This includes among others, the manner in which tenders are managed to benefit individuals who are strategically placed within the organisation or their friends/family; appointment of members or individuals who are not capable to do the job (because of their positions within the organisation or their friends or supporters); ‘buying’ of votes and even conferences to ascend into power to control resources in pursuit of self-interests; and so on.
(3) The manner in which challenges facing the organisation are dealt with and or managed. Actions against individuals tend to suggest factional activities rather than matters of discipline.
(4) The conduct, behaviour, and disposition of members, particularly leaders of the organisation which destroys the confidence of the people;
(5) The manner in which Government challenges are managed and the public posture the leadership takes in relation to these challenges.
(6) The perception that organs and institutions of the State were being destabilised and manipulated to secure the interests of individuals, family, friends and factions within the movement; and
(7) The perceived and or real failures of Government in particular areas and in some parts of the country to deliver basic services Government should and must deliver to the people.
(8) The negative impact of these challenges on our vision and programme of the African renaissance (renewal), including some of our positions on the international arena – Libya being a classical case for me.
These and more dampens the confidence of the people in the organisation; the confidence of our African brothers and sister on the continent and in the diaspora; and that of our international partners and friends who were together with us in the trenches to defeat the apartheid system.
For the purposes of this discussion I have divided the factors into two parts: Aspects which affect or involve the Government and those that are ANC core challenges.
GOVERNMENT RELATED FACTORS
The Government related factors are current and sensitive, but have to be dealt with and disposed of here and now if we have to save the organisation. Among others are the following:
- A perception that ANC (as a ruling party) is rotten to the core from the top to the bottom. We always try to say that this is not the ANC but individuals who have deviated from the culture, character and positions of the ANC. The reality though is that deployed cadres of the movement (throughout the system) are involved in activities that manipulate appointments of personnel and the issuing of tenders to benefit themselves, their families, friends, and factions. And, this is experienced by ordinary people, including members of the ANC, throughout the system. Cabral famous statement, ‘Tell No Lies, and Claim No Easy Victories’, is instructive in this case. We must tell no lies in our own defence, and must never claim victories when in fact we are losing the confidence of the people. The best example in this regard is the manner in which our party representatives in Parliament used our majority to save the President. This is claimed as a victory, but it is at the expense of the confidence of the people in the ANC.
- The public hears ‘public political statements’ by the leadership against corruption, but the reality on the ground suggest otherwise. The growing view in this regard is that the statements are made for public consumption and are not meant to be put in action as they are not backed by decisive action to stop it. From the perspective of the ordinary person there seems to be no clear commitment to end it. Instead they see more defensive actions for alleged perpetrators than offensive action to deal with it. Here, the withdrawn case against the President which is kept alive in the minds of the people by the unending court action (led by opposition parties) does not help the situation. The latest addition of the Inkandla debacle just worsens the situation as it makes the President, as the leader of the ANC and Government and the Head of State, the target and subject of the discussions.
- Notwithstanding the disagreements or opposing views one may hold, the manner in which ANC leaders in Government and in Parliament engaged as well as attacked the Public Protector and her Report, particularly the Findings, has not won us the moral high ground we have historically occupied, but has alienated us from the peoples. This is where the ANC lost its moral high ground forcing many South Africans (including members of the ANC) to rely more on opposition parties to ‘represent’ their perspectives and feelings, notwithstanding their political perspectives about those opposition parties. Here, there is a clear divergence between the positions the leadership of the ANC is seen to be holding and the feelings of ordinary people on the ground!
- The categorisation of members of the ANC and ordinary citizens who raise questions about the Inkandla matter (especially the manner in which it is being handled) as the ‘clever ones’ has further alienated the up and coming black intelligentsia, the growing black middle class found mainly in urban areas, and young university students who are free thinkers and not beholden to the traditions of discourse within the ANC. In fact, it is statements like these (which have not been corrected by the ANC) that will lead to loss of votes in urban areas, particularly in critical Metros in the country, where people are exposed or have access to information and debates within the country. Of greater concern of course is that this posture of the leadership of the movement is against the very ‘Character of the ANC’ which allows freedom of expression. In any case, this is what we fought for as part of our liberation struggle.
- ” Dogmatic positions of the ANC which allows no critical engagement beyond the boundaries of traditional positions and discourse is alienating many young people, especially university students. The new generation is a connected (connecting), open-minded generation which thinks outside the box. It breaks through traditional boundaries. Freedom of thinking for then rather than just ideological positions is a key characteristic of this generation. Accordingly, the bashing of the ‘clever ones’ meaning those who have questioning minds will lose the ANC the brightest of the up and coming generation of young people thus depressing the leadership qualities of future leaders of the ANC. This might explain partly the declining position of influence of the ANC in the governance structures of student in many universities.
- Further, on the manner in which the ANC is handling and managing the Inkandla matter – especially the impression given that the ANC Government could (1) use a Ministerial Committee to disproof or contradict the findings of the Public Protector (an independent Chapter 9 Constitutional Institution); (2) use the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) – whose terms of reference are determined by the President to divert the focus of the people from the real issues and zero on civil servant (the Officials); and (3) use Ministers appointed by the President to determine as to whether or not the President should pay part of what he may have unduly benefitted in terms of the findings of the Public Protector – makes many to feel that the ANC was undermining their intelligence. This alienates many of the up and coming generation that is going to constitute the majority of voters by 2019.
- The worst part of this Inkandla debacle is the unfortunate advice given to the President to say that he wouldn’t pay the money relating to parts of the construction of his private residence which he is said to have unduly benefitted from. The argument that the President cannot pay for what he was not responsible for could make sense, but if one is said to have ‘unduly benefitted’ from public funds one cannot say I will not pay as there is a public service rule that requires anyone who benefitted unduly to repay the money notwithstanding the fact that it would have been someone’s mistake, error, or misjudgement. If I were the President I would have expressed: (1) anger about the manner in which Government managed the security upgrades at ‘my private house’; (2) displeasure against my Ministers who should have ensured that I was not exposed to such a critique of having benefitted ‘unduly’ from public funds; (3) expressed regret that ‘I did not pay attention to details about the security upgrades ‘at my private residence’ as I was busy with more important matters of governance’; (4) appointed an independent person to work with all relevant institutions of Government and the State to assess the magnitude of whatever ‘I may have benefitted unduly’ and advise accordingly; and (5) say that if I had indeed benefitted unduly I would be obliged to pay back the money (depending on my ability to do so) and let the Government remove such facilities or structures where it was possible. The problem with the position that has been taken is that it is the polar opposite of what the public service rules requires of public servants: to pay back what is wrongfully/mistakenly/incorrectly/etc. paid to them.
- Lastly, making fun of the Opposition in Parliament in the glare of the media about the Inkandla matter was really unfortunate and did not help the situation, especially where the ability of people to pronounce words from a particular language was concerned particularly in a plural society like ours. One understands the anger of the President, but it was just the wrong place and manner to express it. The cheering of ANC MPs did not help either as it confirmed that there was something radically wrong with our leaders in Parliament.
- The manner in which our Government created situations that made the Opposition look like they were representing the interests of the people (The Waterkloof Gupta family matter; the Inkandla matter; the attacks on the Public Protector; the jamming of signals in Parliament; etc.). In fact there were times when members of the public wished that the opposition take action to ‘stop’ their ‘own ANC Government’ or Parliamentarians from getting away with what they considered as just unacceptable.
- In my view, the Inkandla matter was of such a magnitude that required the leadership to take it to the Branches for information, discussions, and resolution to empower the members of the organisation to exercise their party constitutional responsibilities in terms of Rule 5.1 and 5.2. In particular Rule 5.1.2 talks about members ‘receiving’ and ‘imparting’ information on ‘all aspects of ANC policy and activities’. Rule 5.2.3 expects members to ‘explain the aims, policy and programme of the ANC to the people’. Without receiving such information through party structures (rather than the media) members of the ANC were disempowered and unable to explain what its Government was doing.
- The instability or perceived instability in State institutions which suggests failure of Government to manage the Institution, or a deliberate action by the leadership to ensure that appointed officials in these institutions serve their interests rather than the interests of the people (or of justice). The impression given here is that an official has to serve the interests of a leader or leaders or has to ship out! This of course would be illegal and unconstitutional. The worst part of this matter is the appointments of officials which appointments get undone within a short space of time costing the State (and tax payers) enormous amounts of money in the form of settlements and packages. These types of appointments can only suggest that the leadership did not apply its mind when the appointments were made or that their appointee is not complying with what he or she was expected to do in their favour.
- And, notwithstanding enormous progress made in terms of service delivery and development, perceived and real failure to deliver basic services in some of the communities, particularly poor communities (both urban and rural) is chipping away the confidence of some among the poor, resulting in a credibility deficit for the movement. Twenty one (21) years later we know that most of the failures to deliver are not about money or external factors, but about ourselves and our own politics. We know by now that where there is failure it is most probably because of weak leadership (either political leadership or public servants or both); appointments of public servants or political officials who either are not capable of doing the job or have no commitment to do so except pursue self-interests; delays in delivery of services or facilities whilst waiting for the ‘right person’ to get the tender or because of conflicts between comrades about a particular tender and about who it was going to benefit; and so forth. All this, we know, is not in the interests of the people but those who are geared to benefit from it. The organisation must answer the question as to ‘How we could allow such things to happen at the expense of the poor who made great sacrifices to remove the apartheid system to better their lives and those of generations to come?’
- Unless there can be a decisive intervention to clean-up the system to ensure that it puts ‘Batho Pele’ (people first) the ANC will continue to lose credibility and confidence of the people.
CORE ANC CHALLENGES
On the ANC itself, I first raised this matter at Prof Ishmael Mohamed’s memorial service (I referred to earlier) that, in our behaviour, conduct, and character, we seemed to be fast deviating from what the ANC was and should be. We seem to also be forgetting that the ANC has the mass support it has because of what it stood for and what it did. In the tradition of the ANC there is a ‘line’ that every genuine cadre of the movement knows is that of the ANC. We often talk about ‘holding the line (‘sebambiline’) and the best reference point of this ‘line’ for this ANC for me is the ANC under OR Tambo leadership (the ‘OR Tambo ANC’). The OR Tambo ANC stretched from the mid-1950s when he became the Secretary General (1955-1958), and later the Deputy President (1958-1969,) and the President (from the 1969 Morogoro Conference to the early 1990s). This was a stretch of about thirty five (35) years, and twenty one of them as the President.
This is the ANC I know – the ANC I grew up in politically; the ANC that shaped my understanding of what our struggle was about (over and above my spirituality) and what we are about. It is this ANC that developed a revolutionary character of the organisation from the earlier liberal (and some would say ‘conservative’) ANC. This is the ANC that developed its revolutionary character during the time of the cold war; an ANC that was forced to make choices between the capitalist west and the socialist east given that the west supported the apartheid regime. The support of some of these western countries went as far as helping the regime to develop six nuclear arsenals and a bank of offensive chemical and biological weapons which were used against those who resisted the apartheid system. It is an ANC that did not take money from reactionary forces (and countries) who were likely to dictate to it and cause it to serve the interests of others (foreign and local interests) at the expense of the people and their interests. It is an ANC that could not be diverted from its primary objective of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) to level the playing field for all South Africans, particularly the poor. This is the ANC that was not ‘On Sale’ and could not be bought. It is an ANC that refused to be compromised for any reason. Genuine members of this ANC would not sacrifice it for anything – in particular not for their own interests. Instead they were prepared to defend it at all costs, even if it meant that one had to fall on one’s sword.
Using THIS ANC as A REFERENCE POINT one can calculate the angle of deviation of the current emerging character of the ANC where the size of the angle indicates the extent to which one has deviated from what the ANC is or should be. If one took the (ANC) ‘line’ as a vertical line then the angle of deviation will be from zero degrees to 90 degrees. Beyond 90 degrees it becomes a free-fall type of ANC. And this is where the greatest danger for the ANC is – falling over into the other side where its character would not be recognisable or becomes a different party from that of the ANC. As I indicated earlier in my Tribute to Professor Ishmael Mohamed I coined the language for the measurement of this ‘angle of deviation’ which I called the ‘Prof Mohamed and Peers Mathematical Formula’ for a healthy ANC (In the tradition of his Heineken-Mohamed theorems which he constructed together with Proof Heineken).
The first contributor to this angle of deviation is the reality that ANC cadres who presented themselves as revolutionary and incorruptible have proved to be an easy meal for corruption. When presented with opportunities to serve their own personal interests, even at the expense of the very people they waged the struggle for (people’s interests) – especially those of the poor – they easily fall over and become corruptible. Once in power self-interests, family interests, and the interests of close friends or fellow travellers in the project of corruption become the ultimate. We called these types of ‘fellow travellers’ ‘Com Tsotsis’ during the liberation struggle. The challenge with the current ‘Com Tsotsis’ is that they are imbedded within the organisation and placed in critical leadership positions.
These individualistic and sectarian interests lead to the creation of factions within the movement which wage struggles against each other. They do so at all costs (including killing other comrades) to keep in power to secure these interests. This is done even if this risks the very being and soul of the movement. Once factions are formed the leaders begin to serve the faction within the ANC thus moving the organisation even further and further away from some of its members, let alone the people. In this factional ANC even ‘children of the ANC’ (who were born and brought up in the ANC) get marginalised and excluded from any useful and productive activity within and outside the ANC. This is done irrespective of their skills and capacity. This has robbed the ANC and the country of critical skills and expertise which is evident in many areas of service delivery failures. At worst corrupted leaders feed on the very children of the ANC! Here the leaders turn themselves into cannibals.
The greatest threat to the ANC and the country is the corrupting of the very electoral system within the ANC to produce a particular outcome mastered over time now with slates starting from the Branches to the National Conference. This includes buying votes within a branch to ensure that the selection of delegates to conferences produce a particular predetermined outcome to serve the interests of particular individuals or a faction. In most instances this is driven from the top down. In this regard I would like to submit that if the election of the local leadership at a Branch level is corrupted then all the leaders who come from this batch are bound to be compromised and likely to be corrupt themselves or corruptible. One cannot have a rotten foundation and not export it to the highest echelons of the system. The end of all this will be intensified conflicts between members of the organisation which are bound to be violent. This has begun to manifest itself at a Branch level which will ultimately climb up to a regional, provincial and the national levels.
The revolutionary theory I went through as part of my training made it clear that ‘compromised’ or ‘corrupted’ leaders are dangerous as they can be used by foreign entities (particularly foreign intelligence agencies/operators) who are able to blackmail them to make them serve their interests (that is, the interests of these foreign entities) at the expense of their people. This is how we ended up with proxy governments or leaders on the African continent who served the interests of foreign governments at the expense of their own people (nationals). In short, compromised or corrupted leaders can sell you or the nation anytime!
What is more frightening though is that the corrupting of the electoral system in the party at all levels is a dangerous precursor to the corrupting of national elections at all levels as well. In fact, anyone who is prepared to corrupt the election system within the party would not hesitate to corrupt the national electoral system. This will include manipulating the appointment of the Electoral Commissioners, appointment of Electoral Officers and staff. This is clearly a national security risk as it threatens the very nature and heart of our democracy, particularly the national democratic revolution (NDR). The corrupting of the electoral system within the party is thus the beginning of a development that will ultimately lead to the corrupting of the national electoral systems which is bound to lead to the establishment of a dictatorship. In this regard, one can boldly say that unless this trend is stopped we are on our way to the making of a dictatorship.
In real politics no corrupt leader voluntarily leaves office. They have to, and will use all and every means to remain in power for ever (‘until Jesus comes’, to use the President’s unfortunate language) to protect their interest, including their own security as well as avoid going to jail for their corrupt acts. In this regard, demands for ‘third terms’ are not surprising. This then culminates into a dictatorship that legitimizes its violence against those who differ with it or hold different views. Anyone who calls for a ‘third term’ in Government (which is unconstitutional) must be suspect! Worse more, anyone who participates in electoral fraud at any level must never be allowed to get close to the levers of (State) power as this will risk the corrupting of national elections of the country. If this happened it would signal the death of our democracy.
My consultations with Veterans of the movement on my journey to Luthuli House (Top Six) convinced me that we are closer to a violent and dictatorial leadership than one ever thought. All the veterans I consulted about the state of the ANC and the nation (all) agreed that there was something radically wrong in the country and within the ANC. They all agree that the threat to the integrity of the ANC is a threat to the very life and future of the country. But once one raised the question, “what to do?” about eighty percent (80%) of them (my sample) took a step backward rather than forward. The reason – fear in various disguises – loss of a job; risk ‘to my business’; risk ‘to my opportunities’ in the ‘tenders business’; ‘threat to life’ (that is, security), etc. This fear for me is the measure of the extent to which we are sliding into a dictatorship. Talking to some of those who are in leadership this is like a ‘hush-hush’ subject and one cannot miss the fear in many of the faces of the Veterans.
The first sign of the advent of dictatorship is the violation of the Constitution and lack of respect for the law. There are some among us who believe that the laws are meant for others and not for themselves, and, that the Constitution is only ‘good’ if it serves their interests. Otherwise, it is not worth the paper it is written on. Some among us have not yet crossed the bridge beyond the liberation struggle where the laws of the apartheid system had to be defied or ignored. They treat the new democratic order in the same way they treated the apartheid system. Laws are only useful if they served their interests (then, the liberation struggle), otherwise they are of no use and therefor worth defying.
DESTROYING THE HOPE OF OUR AFRICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS ON THE CONTINENT AND IN THE DIASPORA
The matters referred to above have also dampened (and some would say destroyed) the confidence of our brothers and sisters on the continent. In fact our Africa brothers and sisters are hurting because of where we are today. Many on the African continent expected the freedom of South Africa (and the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) to create a South Africa that was non-racial, non-sexist, just, democratic, equitable, and prosperous) to be translated into an African Democratic Revolution (ADR) Project to renew the Africa continent. The promotion of the African Renaissance vision was thus not an accident of history. It was expected to lead into the ADR to a level where it would change the perspectives and perception of the world about Africa and make it a leading continent in the world. This gave enormous hope to the Africa masses who have been victims of both international and national systems that negated their being and humanity for many years and even centuries. Many Africans saw South Africa as an emerging model which they expected their countries emulate.
But the current downturn of the ANC and the country has dashed their hopes. As one travelled around the African continent one found a deep disappointment about the turn of events in South Africa (amongst leaders and ordinary people). They wondered what had happened to us. It was almost like “who has bewitched you?” and “Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing?” The language used here was like one used in Galatians 3:1 and 4. In my interaction with some of the African diplomats, two perspectives emerged, and both were terribly worrying. One was, “We expected you to help us or show the way, now you are becoming ‘just like us’!” … ‘Just like us’ … Worrying words indeed! The worst of the two was, “You thought you were better, now you are ‘just like us'”. As we destroy our democratic systems and culture the confidence and trust of our African Sisters and Brothers in us also wanes out. In this interaction I also found that our vote at the Security Council to authorise the invasion of Libya by major Western powers is a thorn in the flesh. There is no gainsaying that Libya today is worse than it was before the invasion.
Other friends who are hurting are our historical international partners who went out of their way to raise money to support us and the struggle; those who went beyond the acts of ‘solidary’ and participated in the underground work of the liberation movement; and those who campaigned against their own countries to secure our liberation. Their pain here is deep and palpable! It became alive to me last week when I visited some of our old friends and comrades in a number of European countries.
WINNING BACK THE CONFIDENCE OF THE PEOPLE
The Mangaung Organisation Renewal document deals with this matter of the confidence of the people in a way that no one can miss. It states that the ANC is generally regarded as the leader of the people because it earned it over the years in terms of its leading role in the struggle; its character; and its high levels of morality (revolutionary morality). Being considered as a leader of the people is not something one can grasp or claim. One earns it! This is earned by serving the people and not by serving its members or its leaders or by leaders serving themselves. As the document says: “The ANC’s PRIMARY MISSION is to SERVE the PEOPLE!”
This is said with an exclamation mark. Nowhere in the policies of the ANC and its documents does one find that the ANC’s mission is to serve its members and particularly its leaders. With the divisions and factions within the ANC the self-serving interests are now reserved not for any member of the ANC but a particular faction. If you do not ‘belong’ you do not get appointed or deployed within and outside the organisation. Secondly, you are blocked from getting any tenders from Government. At worst one is pursued beyond Government to the private sector and one’s private interests.
The document says that “Whatever `problems and setbacks the ANC … will encounter in the future, the people’s cause has … and should remain its primary concern”. …The ‘mass line’ must ‘always prevail’ (recognising that there will always be contending interests). “… every problem”, it says, “should be approached from the view point of seeking to safeguard the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people”. “Serving the people and putting their interests ABOVE ALL ELSE, must be the guiding line and discriminator that separates the ANC from other parties”. “The people first” should be our dictum right into the future. “The mutual confidence and dynamic connection between the ANC and the masses is the single most decisive factor that brought about the 1994 democratic breakthrough”. The document continues to say that “As we enter the second centenary of the ANC, we reaffirm our commitment to serve the masses of our people loyally”.
The document further says that the ANC must jack-up its capacity “as a transformative movement and the strategic centre of power that is capable of giving moral, intellectual and political leadership to society in all pillars of the NDR in the current phase – mass mobilisation, state, economy, the battle of ideas, civil society and international arena”.
A comparative analysis of the stated positions in this document and the actual practice on the ground shows a clear deviation from what the movement professes and what it does. Our (ANC) ‘line’ has always been that of (amongst others):
(1) Leading the struggle for the liberation of the people (not just of members or leaders of the movement) and making great sacrifices (even unto death);
(2) Transforming and restructuring the State to serve all the people of South Africa (whites and blacks) and not just the minority (whites, privileged blacks, leaders of the ANC and members only); and
(3) Transforming the economic system and structures to ensure that all South Africans (particularly those who were excluded from it during the apartheid era) participate fully and equally in the economy.
To do otherwise will lead to a natural loss of the confidence of the masses of our people, particularly the historically disadvantaged.
Once it loses the confidence of the people it will lose its leadership status in the country, and that will be the beginning of its demise.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
The question many ask when discussing this matter is “What should we do to change this situation?” There are a number of issues we need to consider.
The first act would be to release and enable Veterans of the movement to “make a full and rich contribution to the work of the ANC, the movement and the life of the nation” without fear of being victimised or ostracised. In my interaction with the Veterans, especially current active members of the Veterans’ League, there is indeed unhappiness about the way they are being marginalised, excluded, insulted by younger members of the organisation, and silenced because of their age. They felt that they were only needed when it came to elections in terms of their capacity to mobilise support for the movement. At worst they were mobilised to support one faction or another in the form of slates.
My view is that the ANC would benefit more out of Veterans who have the freedom to interact with elected officials of the organisation to ensure that they do not via away from the ‘line’ (culture, character, and traditions of the movement) or help them to change course when there is a clear deviation from what it should be as it is the case now. In fact there would be no loss of ‘face’ by the leadership or loss of confidence in the ANC if the Veterans would be seen to be the ones who are leading the repositioning of the ANC to be what it should be.
An urgent Conference of the Veterans of the ANC has become absolutely necessary to discuss this matter and advise the leadership of the Movement accordingly. The process of interaction should start from the Branches of the League to regions, provinces and ultimately at the national level. This can only happen if the leadership of the ANC at all levels and within all the Provinces facilitated such meetings to give them total legitimacy without trying to sway them to one or other positions of any faction. At the time I requested a meeting with the National Officials the beginning of July I was going to propose that all these processes should be undertaken before the National General Council (NGC) to make sure that the NGC take the input of the Veterans into consideration. Given the fact that we now have less than a month to the NGC a sample of the Johannesburg region should be used as part of the input of veterans. My submission should also be considered as a submission of a concerned veteran of the Movement.
Second, we must call on all genuine members of the ANC, from wherever they are (communities, community organisations, labour, business, churches, professional organisations, etc.) to return to the Branches of the ANC country-wide and internationally (in the way we organised the United Democratic Front during the liberation struggle) to ensure that the Branches of the ANC which are the ‘life-cells’ of the organisations are liberated from the control and dominance of factions (whichever), individual leaders of the ANC, etc., and ensure that elected leaders from the Branch to the national levels are not products of manipulated elections to produce a particular outcome to serve interests of individuals, factions, etc.
The outcome of the elections of the ANC at all levels must represent the views and feelings of the masses of our people on the ground. Once the leaders the ANC elect are not leaders who inspire the confidence of the masses then those who elect then (delegates at the Conference) would be reflecting their own interests (or those of a faction) and not those of the people. Delegates from the Branch must represent the views and feelings of the constituencies (Wards) from which they come and not just members of the Branch who may be mobilise to serve a particular interest or faction. It does not help to have 70% votes at the Conference of the ANC whilst the national election graph is going in the opposite direction. When this happens it suggest that the delegates of the ANC at the Conference are no more representing the communities from which they come.
We must ensure that elected leaders are genuine members of the ANC who are committed to serving the people of this country and not self-interests and the interests of particular factions or individuals. The leadership must not be corrupted or compromised as this will impact negatively on the integrity and credibility of the organisation. This must be done now rather than later. By the time we reach the National Conference in 2017 the Conference must be constituted not by delegates who are mobilised to produce a particular outcome to entrench factional or personal interests. But it must be constituted by cadres of the movement who are there to ensure that the new leadership represents the interests of the people of South Africa, particularly the poor. The only way to achieve this is to liberate the Branch from factional leaders and tendencies.
The measurement of our success in this regard would be a credible leadership that will have the confidence, not only of the members of the ANC, but of the majority of the people of South Africa. Once nominated these leaders must be vetted by a team of credible Veterans of the movement and must be able to go “Through the Eye of the Needle” in terms of the policies and rules of the Movement. No one should be allowed to use money or any resources or patronage to buy or influence members to vote in a particular way. This is absolutely necessary to win the confidence of the people of South Africa again. There should be no compromise on this matter by the time of the next Conference in 2017.
Third, we must ensure that all elected members of the organisation to Parliament or any legislative body are vetted in the same way as the leaders of the ANC who are selected in terms of the second point above. The nomination of such leaders must be based on their capacity, skill, political wisdom, and credibility whilst taking into consideration issues of representativity and regional balances, etc. Factional considerations must be thrown out of the window and patronage and personal benefits should not be allowed to play a role in this regard. Any member of the ANC in good standing should have the same possibilities to be nominated and elected to such legislative bodies. The test of success here will be the quality of leaders we field at all levels.
Fourth, we must ensure that anyone who gets appointed into a higher political position or office, like the President and his/her Cabinet; Premiers and their Executive Committees; and Mayors and their Mayoral Committees, has the capability, capacity, and credibility to hold such an office.
Fifth, ensure that appointments to state entities and institutions are done on the basis of skills, capacity and experience to serve the people rather than self and factional interests of leaders or individuals. In particular, appointments into positions within the Security and Justice Cluster are critical to ensure that our democracy is not compromised. In this regard we must be vigilant to make sure that those who have the powers to appoint such officials do not do so to advance their own factional interests. This we must do “to defend the democratic gains of the people” (Rule 2.3) … “defend the unity and integrity of the Organisation … and combat any tendency towards disruption and factionalism” (Rule 4.17) that is introduced within Government.
Sixth, that, we declare war against any form of corruption at all levels of the Party and Government irrespective of who is involved or affected. In this regard the National General Council (NGC) will be the best vehicle to adopt a resolution which covers the following areas:
(1) A concern about the increase in corrupt activities within and outside Government and the Party;
(2) That corruption is not just a moral issue but an economic issue as it affects the performance of the economy; create inefficiencies and leakages which rob the public (taxpayers) of value, especially quality of life of the people; that it robs the poor of services that could have been available to them and vulnerable members of our society;
(3) That a clear message be send out to members of the ANC that anyone who is found to be involved or implicated in any forms of corruption within and outside of Government will be dealt with severely, and that their membership of the ANC and their names, profiles, and ‘connectedness’ will not save them from this action. Instead, more will be expected of members of the Organisation than of ordinary citizens. For those who are already caught up in corruption, corrupt acts, or compromised in one way or another should voluntarily come forward and declare their level of involvement or complicity. Plea bargaining arrangements could be the way to resolve these matter within the law. We must work hard to have a clean Government which serves the people;
(4) That some form of indemnity be offered to anyone who will give information about any corrupt activities; and
(5) That no business interests should influence decisions of Government, especially about developmental projects to better the lives of the people. Our Election Manifesto commits us to better the lives of the people, particularly the poor, and we cannot be party to any activities that negates this noble objective.
Seventh, that we declare that our Government has not handled matters such as Inkandla and the instability of the security and justice related institutions of the state and entities as it should have, and the that Party promises to ensure that these matters are dealt with speedily and decisively. We should also commit ourselves as the Party to be more vigilant in the future to make sure that our Government handles such matters in a manner that enhances confidence of the people in the Party and its Government.
Eight that the ANC change its way of dealing with the Youth, recognising that the current generation is more prone to detach themselves from traditional institutions and relate mainly on a relational basis through networks. Limiting their freedom of expression will only rob us of the best possible and potential cadres the Movement needs into the future.
Ninth, that the ANC commission Government to interact with business in SA and develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that those who were historically excluded from the economy because of apartheid laws are enabled to do so within the shortest possible time.
Tenth that we start a process to get South Africans to break from their nightmarish feeling to START DREAMING AGAIN about ‘THE SOUTH AFRICA THEY WANT’, to use the AU language about ‘The Africa they want’. We must initiate a ‘LISTENING CAMPAIGN’ in the same way we did before and at the beginning of our new democracy to give members of the ANC and the people of South Africa the opportunity again to say clearly ‘WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT’ from their Government and ‘WHAT THEY WANT’! This will enable the Party to regain the confidence of the people. This will also mean conversion on the part of the ANC to change radically from where it has deviated to and realign itself with the valued traditions of the Movement.
I would like to end with what in my tradition of faith would be called a prophetic word, and this coincides with what the Prophet Amos said, and I quote:
I had … (a) … vision from the Lord. In it I saw him standing beside a wall that had been built with the help of A PLUMP-LINE, and there was a PLUMP-LINE in his hand.
The message is that one could build a wall believing they have done so in terms of the ‘plump-line’. In this case the Lord asked Amos, “Amos what do you see?” “A PLUMP-LINE”, I answered. Then he said. “I am using it to show that my people are like a wall that is out of line. I will not change my mind again about punishing them” (Amos 7:7-8). They used a Plump-Line, but find that the wall was out of line. We are being given a chance to fix it so we are not punished by the electorate. If we do not change, and change radically, the consequences are too ghastly to contemplate – for the ANC and the people of South Africa.
It is my prayer that the leadership will take seriously the message I have brought to you which I believe is a concern of the majority of South Africans: ‘Do not believe in the Plump-Line you are using as it has built a wall that is out of line. Be bold and allow change to happen, including transformation of yourselves’!
21 September 2015