Photo: @SACP1921/Twitter
Cape Town – A new denialism has emerged in the current leadership of the African National Congress, South African Communist Party 2nd deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said on Saturday.

At the same time, he warned of the possible dangers associated with radical economic transformation. Speaking in Khayelitsha in Cape Town at the centenary celebrations of the birth of former ANC president OR Tambo and the commemoration of the the 22nd anniversary of the death of former SACP leader Joe Slovo, Mapaila referred to the ANC's watershed 1969 ANC consultative congress in Morogoro, Tanzania.

"Tambo’s leadership was crucial on the convening of the conference against the backdrop of serious internal challenges facing the ANC and in guiding the conference to become successful," he said.

Tambo had delivered the ANC after its unbanning in 1990 intact. When he opened the 48th ANC national conference in Durban on July 2, 1991, Tambo had stated “we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general”.

Mapaila said the question now was: "Can we say the same about the leadership role of the ANC to its own members, the alliance and our people in general today?

"Put differently: Can the leadership of the ANC today say the same about the ANC’s leadership role and willingness to accept own mistakes and decisively self-correct? To be frank concrete conditions will rebuke any claims that any serious effort has been demonstrated to accept own mistakes, decisively self-correct, and unite the ANC, unite the alliance, unite associated mass organisations, and, as Tambo said, unite our people in general."

In fact, facts and figures showed that the ANC’s support from the people was declining. The last local government elections results contained massive evidence, he said.

"But a new denialism has emerged. Even when the ANC is no longer the governing party in the Western Cape at the provincial and local government levels, in the Nelson Mandela, Tshwane, and Johannesburg metros, there are individual leaders who still argue that that the ANC did not lose.

"In Ekurhuleni the ANC is a governing party not because it has achieved the majority of votes required to form a government, but because it has entered into a coalition after it did not secure the required majority of votes to form a government without entering into a coalition. The decline in ANC support did not only occur in the metros, but on average across the country not only in other areas where we lost municipalities but also in many municipalities where we have won," Mapaila said.

"Beneath the decline lies factionalism, corruption, patronage, distortion of internal democracy, gate-keeping and the rise in influence of private corporate, personal, and family interests and, associated with these destructive tendencies, the rise of corporate capture both organisationally and in the state. Hypocrisy has also taken root. It is not unusual under the circumstances to find a leader who calls for unity disrupting unity undercover through factional conduct thus propagating divisions and disunity.

"Insincerity and inconsistency will not unify the ANC and the rest of our movement but will only cause more harm. Without confronting these and all other destructive tendencies that lie behind the decline of the hard-won democratic hegemony of the ANC and the legacy of unity inherited from Tambo it is either going to be more difficult or impossible for the ANC to reclaim lost ground. Internal divisions in the ANC impact negatively not only on the unity of the ANC but also on the unity of the alliance and our people in general. This is the reason why I felt compelled to underline the problem and appeal that we must take our cue from the good leadership example set by Tambo and Slovo."

On economic transformation, Mapaila said the mere fact that there was now agreement about the necessity to pursue radical economic transformation, did not mean that there was agreement about its basic content and strategic tasks.

"We may all be talking about radically reducing inequality, unemployment, and poverty. But others may be eying radical looting in the name of all the historically disadvantaged. This is why we must not leave the class content of what we mean by radical economic transformation unattended.

"The very correct assertion that radical economic transformation must deliver on ownership by black people and women may be hijacked to mean ownership by certain individuals through political and business connections and not ownership by the historically disadvantaged or in the words of the Freedom Charter the people as a whole," he said.

"But learning from the terrible experience of the looting of public entities by an axis of corporately captured leaders and public officials, on the one hand, and on the other hand their corporate capturers who sometimes have business connections with family members of those who they have captured, or their proxies, it is going to be very important, as part of radical economic transformation, to strengthen our fight to combat corporate capture, corruption, and patronage.

"Public entities must not be used as instruments to advance exploitative interests and place such interests ahead of economically empowering the historically disadvantaged and the exploited and systematically eliminate inequality, unemployment, and poverty.

"Radical economic transformation must essentially constitute a movement to restore the surplus produced in production, which has always been appropriated by the exploiters in the form of profit, interests and rent, to those who produce it, each according to their contribution during the production process. This must constitute what we mean by shared and inclusive growth," he said.