Cape Town - While it is possible to say “a lot of bad things” about the ANC, the changes in South Africa since 1994 are irreversible and have to be celebrated, says retired ANC MP Ben Turok.
Addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday,
Turok - who recently released his book With My Head Above the Parapet (published by Jacana) - referred to three dangers he believed the ANC faced in the coming Parliament, including the fact that the DA had learnt how to effectively boycott legislation by walking out of the National Assembly and leaving it without a quorum.
“If the DA and the EFF worked together in this, the ANC might have a very difficult time getting legislation through,” he said.
“Another danger is that the EFF will force the ANC to sharpen its focus on economic policy. Many commentators have said that they did not expect dramatic changes in economic policy, but I think they are wrong.
“A third danger is the fact that the ANC, which calls itself the people’s party, secured only a third of the possible vote in this country.”
Turok also spoke of his opposition to the much maligned Protection of State Information Bill.
“On the day we had to vote for it, I called two constitutional lawyers to ask whether it was constitutional and they confirmed that it was a very bad bill, so I decided to leave just before the vote. I thought nobody was going to see me, but somebody did and I soon got a call on my cellphone,” he said.
Turok criticised the ANC’s socio-economic insights and the party’s slow reaction to the economy. He said the country was losing tread with the rest of Africa.
“The rest of the continent is growing at between 5 and 6 percent, we are growing at 2 percent,” he said.
The ANC’s slow response to the economy and socio-economic issues had opened the door for others such as the EFF. The issue of nationalisation had not been properly addressed either.
He pointed out that Nkandla was a big issue that had been met with great unease by many in the party.
It had been dealt with unprofessionally, there was clear racketeering going on and the president did know about it, to the extent that he even complained about details such as wanting windows in a certain place and not in another.
But Turok said people forgot that the ANC was much loved by African South Africans, because for them it was not just a political party but their movement, their family and their community.