This was according to controversial political commentator, author and analyst Prince Mashele, who was speaking at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban on Wednesday night.
Mashele was part of a panel discussing the book “Unmasked – Why the ANC failed to govern”, by Khulu Mbatha, who was the guest speaker.
In his address, Mbatha said that the majority party was ill prepared to transition from a liberation movement to a democratic government.
“In a constitutional democracy, we should be able to deal with inconvenient truths about our past,” he told the full house.
A trained philosopher who has worked as an ANC advisor and served as a diplomat in Germany, Mbatha said it was important to “demystify the ANC as a big, unapproachable giant”.
“What has happened to the ANC’s mission, to its ethics, leadership and vision? To answer these questions I had to be frank and sincere,” he said.
An ANC member for 40 years, Mbatha is one of the so-called "101 stalwarts", a group of long-serving ANC members who in 2016 called on the party to regain its moral compass through a document entitled
He said it was possible to bring change to the country that would be to the benefit of all citizens, regardless of race, gender and religion, but the ruling party had to face some hard truths to do so.
In his address, Mashele asked: “If the African National Congress had succeeded to govern, what would be the evidence that it did?”
“When there is restlessness in society, the ANC just gives us more slogans, like ‘radical economic transformation’,” he said.
The evidence of the English governance could be found in the country’s mining industry, while evidence for Afrikaner governance could be seen in parastatals.
Jan Smuts, “the best mind ever to come out of South Africa,” according to Mashele, negotiated a deal to co-govern with the English, and in so doing managed to pull the Afrikaner from poverty.
“The Afrikaners governed, they did not give us slogans,” he said.
This was not to say that either group had no problems, but they spoke openly about them and put practical steps in place to solve their shortcomings.
“Europe acknowledged it needed the enlightenment,” he said.
“What has the black government produced over the last two decades? You can’t point at one thing. Our government has not been making history,” he said.
“The looting of resources, the backwardness of leadership show a party that has no idea of a modern concept of society,” he said.
Third panellist, China Dodovu, the ANC’s former North West deputy chairperson, told the audience that the party had failed to govern when it came to land reform and economic transformation, but there had also been many positive developments.
“We must ask ourselves what kind of leaders can take our country forward, and are our leaders the shepherds or the sheep?” Dodovu asked.
True leadership was being willing to swim against the tide and do what was unpalatable to others. “We need radical leaders to take South Africa forward,” he said.
The book whose foreword was written by struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada, is published by KMM Review Publishing and is available at most reputable bookshops.
African News Agency and The Star