Picture: @Cne_Zondani/Twitter

Today the governing party's fifth national policy conference gets under way in Nasrec, Joburg.

Coming as it does against the backdrop of an economic crisis, a jobs bloodbath, policy uncertainty and the ratings downgrades, the ANC's policy indaba is a crucial moment for the continent's oldest liberation movement to show it can pull the country out of this political and economic morass.

Since its last policy conference in 2012, many things have changed in terms of the political and economic dynamics in the country, and the party of Oliver Reginald Tambo and Nelson Mandela faces possibly its biggest test: to transform and adapt to the challenges of today.

There is no doubt that the ANC goes to the policy conference as a shadow of its former self, rocked by deep-seated divisions, corruption among its rank and file, and a general decline in trust among voters.

The results of the last local government elections, in which it lost three key metros - Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Joburg - to a coalition of opposition parties, should be a wake-up call for the ANC.

Its continued leadership of South Africa beyond the 2019 elections will depend on how the policies the ANC crafts at this year's indaba will resonate with the many challenges facing the country today. Its policies must speak to the challenges faced by our people.

Even from within its own structures, strongest backers and allies, including some among its veterans of the Struggle, the message is clear that the party faces its demise unless it changes the current trajectory and ends the rot in its ranks.

Party delegates also meet at a time when the emergence of the Gupta emails have plunged the country into a state of shock at just how far some comrades will go to sell control of the state to powerful individuals in exchange for self-enrichment.

State capture is no doubt going to be a major election issue for the party in 2019, and how it deals with the issue today will define how it performs at the polls.

The anger among the people is deepening and cannot be ignored any longer.

The ANC must emerge from its policy conference with a road map to drive the country out of these challenges.

The time for talk and rhetoric is over.

Now is the time for the ANC to show it can lead.

The Star