ANC’s election manifesto and defence mode

Dominic Maphaka is a Lecturer at the North West University, Mafikeng Campus. Picture: Supplied

Dominic Maphaka is a Lecturer at the North West University, Mafikeng Campus. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 12, 2024



Amid the much-awaited State of the Nation Address (Sona), South Africans were presented with what could be described as the African National Congress (ANC) Election Manifesto and Defence Mode.

Considering that the ANC is facing an imminent collapse, President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the Sona that seeks to save his limping party rather than providing a clear concrete plan to address the country’s triple challenges such as poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

Through the story of Tintswalo, the president presented the welfare programmes which have benefited SA through basic services ranging from houses, electricity, water, social grants, feeding schemes, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

The foregoing developments are indisputable transformation paths that the post-apartheid government has embarked on to change the lives of many previously disadvantaged black people.

However, the realities on the ground mirror that the ANC-led government has failed to advance the responsibility to protect (R2P) and provide, entrusted to SA as a member of the international community. Among other things, the majority of South Africans are facing poverty, unemployment, and inequality that are set to deteriorate amid the economy that gives no hope.

The water taps remain dry in many rural areas across the country where many people are still fetching water from rivers and wells. The infrastructure disparity between urban and rural areas persists to the extent that the latter dwellers’ movement is curtailed during the rainy season with children being unable to go to school.

Considering the above, the president’s Sona was a political strategy that sought to appeal to voters who felt indebted to the ANC. For the past 29 years, the injustices of the colonial-apartheid government have been featured the most in ANC programmes, policies, and speeches to the extent that the governing party seems to be preoccupied with the past while failing to contain the degeneration of governance under its rule.

Arguably, the ANC has reached the stage where self-preservation takes precedence over anything. Hence, the president opted to remind the welfare beneficiaries of the average and shoddy services that are appreciated by some poor electorates.

In terms of defence mode, the president employed state capture and Covid-19 as a scapegoat for the country's challenges. It is not far-fetched that the post-2008 ANC-led administration has developed a culture of attributing problems to the outgoing president. During Zuma’s tenure, the government claimed to fix the damage left by former president Thabo Mbeki's administration.

Since his ascendancy to power in 2018, Ramaphosa has put Zuma’s administration at the centre of problems that are facing the country. This has seen the coining of the phrase “nine wasted years” which gained prominence from his supporters and sympathisers.

Despite allegations of corruption, during Zuma’s administration, the state of governance was much better. SA was not subjected to recurring load shedding which is normalised by the current administration.

As part of addressing youth unemployment, the president cited the Presidential Employment Stimulus established three years ago. According to the president, the government has managed to create 1.7 million work and livelihood opportunities.

The president argues that more than 1 million youth were employed as school assistants in 23 000 schools, and the programme has enabled them to acquire valuable work experience and improve learning outcomes.

The foregoing programme is the obscured reflection of the realities on the ground. The majority of assistant teachers were youth with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees who undoubtedly deserve sustainable jobs rather than those operating like the Expanded Public Works Programme rotational jobs.

It should also be pointed out that many of these youth purported to have acquired valuable experience, were working as general workers doing menial jobs. Some were doing admin work such as typing question papers for teachers, a phenomenon that cannot be cited as an experience for the youth that have been doing that during their days as students.

Considering the above, a commitment to professionalise the public service sector should be advanced through the employment of youth in the sector and other positions of government.

The government should join efforts with the private sector and civil societies to provide initiatives that will provide experience to students who are doing academic degrees. The SA government should prioritise the development of rural areas on its multilateral development projects such as the BRICS Development Bank.

The premiers should hold gatherings with residents across districts to receive reports about the state of service delivery at the local municipalities. Municipalities should introduce a rule that empowers communities to expel councillors who fail to provide services.

Dominic Maphaka is a Lecturer at the North West University, Mafikeng Campus.

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