Is the current ANC counter revolutionary?*
October 8, 2008 § 3 Comments
By Khaya Dlanga
There are some pretty uncomfortable questions we ought to ask of the African National Congress, for its own sake and ours as a nation. Regardless of what people think of the ANC, our fates are bound to it. It is for this reason that everyone must show interest in its dealings. We cannot follow sheepishly what the leadership tells us is gospel truth — especially when it is manufactured to suit those who seek to lead us. No one should hope for the implosion of the ANC, for its demise means we too shall perish. The perfect example is ZANUPF of Zimbabwe.
The desire to see a better African National Congress requires that we defend and criticise it when and if the need arises. It is a mistake to behave as though it is perfect — that its leaders can do no wrong. It is precisely because it is run by flesh and blood beings that it is imperfect, just like any organisation or company.
We have witnessed our leaders’ fallibilities time and time again, which explains why the people have become cynical of politics and have rightly lost faith in their leaders.
Whenever a shining light presents itself, all attempts to extinguish it are made. Like the voice of ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe. When he said that the judiciary should remain independent, ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu was quoted saying that Motlanthe’s “Going around affirming the independence of the criminal justice system on the case of the ANC president is worrisome.” How is affirming the independence of the judiciary worrisome? Does that statement even make sense? If the statement by the YL’s spokesperson were a joke, it would be a really fun one. Sadly, we are not laughing.
A member of the National Working Committee was quoted by the City Press as saying “Motlanthe creates the impression that all of us are a mad mob and that he is the only saviour, the sole voice of reason, and that he is better than all of us.” This says a lot about some people in there. They seem to recognise (with great reluctance I might add) that they are indeed a mob, and know that there is indeed a lone voice of reason. Instead of applauding it, the mob besieges it and tries to drown it out, not with logic, but with loud voices.
If I am not mistaken, rule 3.7 on the Character of the ANC in its constitution says the following: “The principles of freedom of speech and free circulation of ideas and information will operate within the ANC.”
When a senior member, the deputy president of the ANC, is dragged through the mud for exercising his rights as observed by the constitution, can we truly say that the principles of freedom of speech and the free circulation of ideas operate within the ANC? If this is contrary to what the ANC is meant to represent then can we not say that the ANC is losing its way?
Was it not the ANC that set in motion our constitution? Was it not the ANC that voted and made sure that we have an independent judiciary at the dawn of our democracy? Some have even said that we risk anarchy if Jacob Zuma goes to trial. It is better we have anarchy defending the independence of the judiciary than have a bench full of lackeys.
If Motlanthe’s goal is indeed the presidency, as some have claimed, then this would be a very bad way of playing his cards. He knows who will put him at the helm – the very people he is criticising. Perhaps he has come to realise that the country and the party are too important for him to remain silent while he watches people squabble over a leader — not ideology. He knows that voicing his true thoughts could cost him the presidency or influence should ANC President Jacob Zuma go to jail. It is for this reason that I applaud him for speaking out even though it is politically inconvenient for him. Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
We have lost our appetite of fighting real battles. We have become accustomed to frivolity. And so, as we search for a meaning as a nation, we find meaning in money, getting drunk and getting laid. Sometimes people do all three at the same time. These are the examples that have been set before us by our leaders.
As much as I respect our leaders (some with great reluctance I have to admit), I respect what the ANC should be more. Since it is not what it should be and since it is further away from what it should be than it was five or even ten years ago, then we can say that it is inching away from its revolutionary mandate.
Our leaders have not lived up to their responsibilities to this great organisation.
We have become accustomed to the daily tragic comedy that has become a way of life for our politics. And we watch bemused, as though watching a very bad episode of Generations.
The ANC of Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela was never about battling one another for power. Maybe they had bigger things to worry about than fight so publicly and so dirty amongst themselves. Maybe they were too busy fighting apartheid. Maybe they were too busy fighting for their freedom. Maybe they had higher ideals than to squabble about power, position and prestige.
Not all the current leaders are men of questionable character, reputation or intention. But just because a man’s character and his intentions don’t seem to be questionable does not mean he must not be questioned. This is to protect us from him and him from power. Because power, as we see every day, corrupts.
We should not and must not treat the ANC as though it were a perfect organisation, led by men and woman who are all perfect, and with nothing but perfect objectives. Some may have good intentions – for themselves. It is at this point that we need to make sure that members and leaders don’t confuse the good intentions they have for themselves as good intentions for the party or the state.
I suppose even questioning the current ANC leaders as counter revolutionary could be viewed as counter revolutionary. It is a never-ending cycle. It might be no different from a parishioner of the Roman Catholic Church calling the Pope and his Cardinals heretics.
The ANC seems to be at ease with its current disorderly conduct; it is time we made it uncomfortable so that we, the people, can be at ease with the future of nation. Right now, we are not. Our leaders are supposed to give us confidence for the future. So far they are failing. Dismally.
*first published on thoughtleader.co.za 2nd September 2008