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What is afflicting the 110-year-old Congress Movement?

Published Jan 13, 2022


ANC Head of Organising and Campaigns Nomvula Mokonyane addresses the media ahead of the party’s 110 years anniversary in Polokwane. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Oupa Ngwenya

From the lips of regular and trusted commentators to the alert and unsuspecting listening ears, is it now an established position that the ANC is made up of two factions?

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Has the ANC also come to accept the position to be so, as to believe and to operate on the basis that it is constituted of two factions?

If the answers are in the affirmative, does it follow that for the breath of its life and its pulmonary fitness, the ANC, as seen by commentators – factions have become its vital organs as good as its lungs, without which, it can no longer breathe?

Or is this finding an unchecked figment of commentators’ imagination that has been repeated as an unquestionable convention serving as staple diet analysis to chew, bite, swallow or spit out depending on whether one derives political nutrition or harmful ingestion?

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Whatever could be the case, the ANC has made no convincing demonstrable counter to contradict recurring assessment of it being afflicted by mainly two factions.

Of the two factions, one has a name given to it – the Radical Economic Transformation.

(RET). By design, accident, or mischief, the tagline going with RET is corruption dressed to the nines for the capture of the State.

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Substantial or whiff association of RET with capture of the state has a ring and connotations for the outlawing of any political programmes geared at fundamental change for the socio-economic transformation of power relations that South Africa must inevitably undergo. Regardless, the RET faction is cast as all things attracting a dim view, as ugly as sin. Burdened with this image RET is thus deemed to be as bad as a stumble of zombies and guilty as hell.

The assumed opposite to the RET faction has no name. Albeit nameless, this faction enjoys natural attraction of unsolicited marketability by a battalion of image-building gurus.

The operating tagline, for this faction, is that it is corruption-free. It is billed as a fighter for the State to stay free from its own leash or RET’s.

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This makes the no name faction to be all things bright, beautiful, and clean.

Dressed in corruption, the RET faction is a picture of bad news, driven by devilish intent spelling doom. The alarm being raised is that the future of societal wellbeing stands imperilled by changes implied in the radical economic transformation gospel it preaches.

Does this then make RET a lost cause suggesting that its “Do Something” scenario has neither sense nor a case to make in the direction of fundamental change? Is fundamental change a crime?

Those in favour of the no-name faction see it as no less than good itself dressed in finer feathers of wings flapping in higher corruption-free air in state capture-free skies.

The selling narrative is that the faction is a picture of tranquillity but it is home to a “Do Nothing” culture dressed in costumes signifying over prudence so as not to rock the boat the reckless RET insists it should.

But when evil wreaks havoc and angels maintain their silence, can opportunistic devils be faulted for showing up to speak and act for the good of the cause of the afflicted?

When angels piously cover the truth with their wings and devils menacingly point at it with their unflattering tails, does that discredit the truth as a matter of concern because the devil is speaking it?

Who says one cannot be moral and radical? Founding PAC President Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was the embodiment of both. Despite this Sobukwe was tarred and feathered with uncomplimentary accusations to eclipse his vision for a liberated human race.

Didn’t the beloved Bishop Desmond Tutu also prove that one can be moral and radical? What are those with a moral backbone in the ANC waiting for, to be just as moral and radical as Sobukwe and Tutu was? Nothing discredits a deserved radical programme that South Africa needs than seeing the less honourable at its helm championing it.

Could this “Do Nothing” versus the “Do Something” scenarios be a fair assessment of the warring open and hidden agendas under which the two factions fall in alignment with what commentators surmise?

Is this what the commentator community means by factions in the ANC? If not, what is the fight about? The question stands for everyone within and outside ANC and with a view, and detection stamina, of what could be troubling the 110-year-old Congress Movement.

The credible future for angels in the ANC, to render the “Do Something scenario” devils redundant, is to stop avoiding radical economic transformation.

What needs to be done by the ANC should be undertaken in the spirit of the resolutions written and adopted at its Nasrec 54th Elective Conference of December 2017 and, as it was heard, to resonate with the struggling black majority.

To this end, the ANC should realise that recurring faction fights, be they internally generated or externally sponsored, are fatal ingredients for its own slow death.

The ANC should dig a grave for its factions and bury them there. Burying its factions, stopping its haemorrhaging and finding its way clear to navigating the resurrection of its united effort to carry out the mission for which it was established on January 8, 1912.

Whether the 2020 ANC’s January 8 Statement will help lift the party right up to where 1912 had imagined it at inception? Time can no longer be reliable to tell.

Ngwenya is a Corporate Strategist, Writer and Freelance Journalist.