Many cadres today are living testimony of Smuts Ngonyama’s ’I did not struggle to be poor’ statement
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The ANC and its supporters might have once considered the ruling party a glorious movement, but those days have long passed.
In 2004, when then ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama defended his participation in a Telkom BEE share scheme which, after the sale of the government’s shares, would have netted him up to R160 million, he was quoted as saying: “I did not struggle to be poor”.
Unless you’re a monk, no one aspires to live without acquiring material possessions, but the South African context, as always, is important.
Since Ngonyama’s utterances, there have been many more such deals which have made the ANC’s elites fabulously wealthy, never mind the looting from impoverished municipalities.
We have a rising unemployment rate standing at more than 30%, and more than 50% of young people are sitting at home without work.
All this has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Add this to the fact that in terms of income inequality, South Africa ranks as the worst in the world, according to the World Bank.
In any other country, the figures would bring about political upheaval, even a revolution.
Over the weekend, the ANC had an opportunity to right a floundering ship but, instead, according to reports, the national executive committee meeting descended into whataboutism.
This came after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters called for party leaders to discourage their family members from doing business with government entities.
There were revelations that family members of prominent ANC politicians were some of the biggest beneficiaries of Covid-19 personal protection equipment contracts amounting to hundreds of millions of rand.
Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband and wannabe king Thandisizwe had tendered for a R125m contract to supply PPE to the Gauteng Health Department. Although her husband says he was never paid, the scandal forced Diko to take leave from her position.
The ANC has fallen far short of what its founders envisioned in 1912.
And while Ramaphosa preaches the gospel of the New Dawn, not much will change unless the ANC is held to account. That will only happen at the ballot box.