As the ANC's national general council is about to start in Durban on Monday, perhaps this would be a good time to do some thinking. And some reality checks.
Dear ANC NGC delegate,
On Monday, you will wake up and walk into the Durban’s convention centre to attend this possibly historical gathering. But before you go there, perhaps you want to choose in which world you will wake up. It appears that the country has finally arrived at the proverbial fork in the road and the difference between the choices of worlds in front of you of is pretty stark:
You can wake up in the idyllic world:
In that world, you will spend four days thinking, pondering, acting and deciding about the future of a perfect country, peopled by happy citizens whose lives are made prosperous by your wise, decisive and principled rule, and whose own future is bright and hopeful.
In that world, your organisation cannot be wrong, cannot do wrong and its plans are righteous and benefit everybody in a most glorious way.
In that world, your leadership is wise, selfless and considerate. Its vision is clear and everybody follows it. Your President enjoys complete support from all your provinces, branches and members nationwide, as well as the Youth League, the Women’s League and the Veterans’ organisation. And if he doesn’t really enjoy the support of everybody, and even if your comrades feel it is someone else’s time, that’s okay; since 1994, the ANC has built a new generation of wise, selfless and considerate leaders that can easily step in and lead the country into a glorious future.
In that world, the government you built is doing a great job and everything is in a great shape. If there’s any criticism, however mild it may be, it would be that the role of the ever-knowing, ever-controlling State should be even bigger in South African daily life.
In that world, your allies are greatly satisfied with the way your organisation is keeping its promises and sticking to its obligations. And when your representatives hail their gatherings, they are received with warm applause and deep appreciation.
In that world, the rest of the globe looks at you admiringly, ever ready to hear your thoughts and applaud your actions. Sadly, representatives of the very same globe will not be in Durban to present their best wishes and admiration in person, as they were not invited by your leadership that was so kind and concerned about their well-being. But they wish you only the best nevertheless; they can’t feel otherwise. As you well know, the ANC is still the greatest liberation movement on earth and is loved and appreciated by everybody.
In that world, you and your colleagues are fighting a holy war against that undemocratic monster, the media. You’re fighting the worst of the vestiges of colonial times, the institution that has wedged itself in between the people and true happiness. And your battle is a just one: the entire freedom-loving world supports you in your quest against the unholy – the journalists. (Down with the imperialists, by the way.)
Or you can wake up, and see a very, very different world:
In that world, we live in the most unequal country globally, with the one of the highest crime rates in the world; the reality of survival haunts most of the people, most of the time.
In that world, the spectre of populism rears its ugly head in South Africa.
In that world, the ANC insists on building a developmental state. But as the fundamentals for the developmental state were never there, we build a huge, slow, expensive, self-feeding monster that has inserted itself at every level of the country’s life and, most of the time, serves as a dampener on growth, rather than the engine it was supposed to be. Mostly leaderless and crumbling, parastatals control the bulk of this country’s life and their inefficiency and lack of competence impact negatively on its economic growth. Over the years, their policies left huge chunks of infrastructure in near collapse. Lack of planning and even worse execution may soon cause the collapse of the country’s power grid, water and sewage systems. They have already left the country with dysfunctional railways. In that world, SA’s main economic engine, Johannesburg, may soon end up poisoned by the acid lake that is rapidly growing underneath it.
In that world, your partners in the tripartite alliance have just about had it with what they see as your self-enrichment, corruption and incompetence.
In that world, black economic empowerment serves only the privileged few who then forget to trickle their newly-acquired wealth down.
In that world, the ANC is not the liberation organisation of the past, but a motley group of people glued together by power. A great many of the ANC’s provincial organisations are in chaos, and the provinces they control are riven by turf battles, with places such as Mpumalanga more closely resembling a crime enterprise than a secondary level of the state.
In that world, there’s a thundering sound of the ticking bomb of millions of young people who have finished their matrics, but are futureless.
In that world, the new Protection of Information Bill being pushed by the ANC will turn the country into a security state not dissimilar to the one built by the apartheid system. And the media appeals tribunal will give the ruling party a statutory power unparalleled in the free world to rule over the issues involving freedom of speech, of expression and of dissent.
Dear ANC NGC delegate, we will understand if you wake up in the world of roses and go to the Durban convention centre to participate in the glorious example of ANC’s righteousness. We will also understand that you may even want to do a bit of a one-upmanship with your colleagues and suggest new, tougher ways of dealing with the media’s counter-revolutionaries, imperialist spies and assorted agents and bastards. Maybe you really want to prove your commitment to the cause and push for the nationalisation of ALL media? Now, that would be a good career-booster, wouldn’t it?
But remember when you choose which world you prefer to wake up in; by executing the messenger, you will not extinguish the truth. And the truth will still be out there. DM
Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick. He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa. Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.
"I do not understand how holding a placard to protest against gender-based violence would be interpreted as insulting the modesty of a woman." ~ Beatrice Mateyo