President Jacob Zuma  File picture: Masi Losi
President Jacob Zuma File picture: Masi Losi

ANC can't self-correct like it’s done down the years

By OPINION Time of article published Jul 10, 2016

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The ANC’s days in power are numbered. The sooner Elvis Masoga comes to terms with this incontrovertible reality, the better, writes Molifi Tshabalala.

Johannesburg - A sad reality of an unchallenged perception is that it becomes conventional wisdom. This came to mind when I read Elvis Masoga’s article, “The ANC has Age-Old Ability to Self-Correct Mistakes”.

In so far as I know, nobody has taken the trouble to challenge the factuality of this perception. Therefore, it has become conventional wisdom. Hence, Masoga, who is a political analyst, used it to advance Jacob Zuma’s claim that the ANC would govern the country forever.

He poses the question: “Can the ANC lose political power at national level?”

One may ask this question given that we are a few weeks away from the 2016 local government elections, set for August 3.

It is important, as the local government elections serve as an index of the general election results. Therefore, we should look at them as the emerging future and use it to answer Masoga’s question from an empirical perspective.

In the 2006 local government elections, the DA got a large share of votes but could not win the city of Cape Town with an outright majority. It formed a coalition with smaller parties, including the ACDP and FF+, to beat an ANC-ID coalition.

The city did well under the DA-led coalition government. In 2008, the City Mayors’ Foundation named Helen Zille as the world’s best mayor, building up the DA’s good record in government. This track record and other factors helped the DA win the province in the 2009 election.

It got 49 percent and formed a coalition government with the now defunct ID, which received five percent, to govern the Western Cape. In the next elections, the DA increased its support in the province by nine percent. In contrast, the ANC increased its support to 34 percent from 33 percent.

The same may happen after the 2016 local government elections. According to an Ipsol survey, the ANC may lose three metros, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, and Tshwane and the EFF would be a kingmaker.

EFF leader Julius Malema said his party is prepared to form the coalition government with any party except the ANC. In other words, if the EFF and other smaller parties form the coalition government with the DA, the ANC would lose power in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, and Tshwane.

Technically, they would have also edged it out of power nationally as well. The ANC cannot claim to govern the country while running economically insignificant metros such as eThekwini and Mangaung, as compared with the City of Cape Town and Johannesburg, the country’s economic hubs.

Nationally, the DA has also been on an upward spiral. It has increased its support from 10 percent in 1999 to 22 percent in 2014. The ANC, on the other hand, has been on a downward spiral since the 2009 general elections. It got 66 percent and went further down by four percent in the next elections to stand at 62 percent. If it keeps on losing four percent in successive elections, the ANC would get 47 percent in 2034.

In fact, the ANC may lose power before 2034, as it has lost the little control it had over the economy. A Zuma-led neo-patrimonial cabal has messed up the economy. Consequently, we are only the third-largest economy on the continent, recently overtaken by Egypt, which has had two regime changes while our economic growth is regressing at an alarming rate.

As it stands, our fate is in the hands of the three credit rating agencies: Fitch Group, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s. With our country in the ICU at one notch above junk status, they may pull the plug at any time.

I am not an expert in “quantum predictability,” but a loss of control over the economy, a lack of responsible and visionary leadership, and other equally pressing challenges are a telltale sign the ANC’s days in power are numbered. The sooner Masoga comes to terms with this incontrovertible reality, the better.

Having answered the question, let us look at his claim that “organisational resilience” and “cognitive homogeneity among opposition parties” would keep the ANC in power forever.

Perhaps, Masoga should have first asked himself whether the current ANC leadership is capable of self-correcting its mistakes, as compared with the one of Pixley Seme’s time. For example, he explained how a group of party veterans met with Seme, who had expelled communists from the ANC, and requested him to step down. “For the sake of the party’s sustenance,” he says, Seme stepped down.

Zaccheus Mahabane stepped in as a caretaker president “to restore harmony and rapport between pan-Africanists and neo-socialists within the ANC,” he added.

This begs two questions. First, why a current group of party veterans, including Andrew Mlangeni and Ben Turok, both of whom are part of the ANC integrity committee, has not met with Zuma and asked him to step down. Mlangeni and Turok have called for his resignation through the media.

Second, it begs the question as to whether Zuma would have heeded the veterans’ call to resign and appointed Mbeki, as the only living former ANC leader, to stabilise the party, as Mahabane did. To date, he has pleaded ignorance to an audible chorus of calls to resign following the damning ConCourt judgement on the Nkandla matter, Nenegate, and many other blunders.

In the book, Leadership, Management, and the Five Essentials for Success, Rick Joyner explains what sets Seme apart from Zuma. He says: “There are basically two kinds of leaders: those who sacrifice the people for themselves, and those who sacrifice themselves for the people.”

Zuma and his neo-patrimonial cabal fall into the former. He has sacrificed the people for himself, family, and friends. Hence, he did not feel he had to resign over the Nkandla matter. In fact, it should not have reached a point where people had to call for his resignation. He should have resigned immediately after Public Protector Thuli Mandosela found he had failed to protect the state resources.

I beg to differ with Masoga that Zuma “has single-handedly shattered the revolutionary morality and historic ideals” of the ANC, although the fish rots from the head.

Zuma is not the problem, but part of the problem. The ANC should take a collective responsibility for messing up the party and the country. Accountability does not start in Parliament, or after a court ruling. It starts within the party structures.

The ANC failed to hold Zuma to account on the Nenegate, Nkandla matter, and many other scandals, some of which warranted his removal from office. Instead, it threw its weight behind him. He has since become bigger than the party.

The biggest problem facing the ANC is a leadership crisis, a reason it cannot self-correct its mistakes. Hence, it boggles my mind every time people call on the party to show some leadership on certain issues, such as the ongoing shenanigans at the SABC.

In response, the ANC would either distance itself from the issues or declare “not in its name”. Either does not amount to a responsible leadership. For example, instead of taking action against its members who disrupt EFF’s rallies, the ANC distances itself from their actions.

On the so-called cognitive homogeneity among opposition parties, Magoro says they are obsessed with the ANC and questions their creativity, innovation, and ability to “craft an alternative visionary model”.

The problem with Masoga’s analysis is it borders on underhand electioneering for the ANC. His tone towards the opposition parties speaks volumes. Is he moonlighting for the ANC?

Ideologically, the EFF offers an alternative from the ANC and other neo-liberal parties. It pursues the socialist revolution, whereas they seek to maintain the current capitalist system.

This negates Masoga’s claim of “cognitive homogeneity among the opposition parties”.

* Tshabalala is an author.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent

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