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ANC policy conference: Don’t pontificate, implement!

Aubrey Masango was born in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria. Educated at St Johns College in Johannesburg and later went to the University of Pretoria to study to be a teacher. He was bored. He decided to get out of the corporate rat-race in 2009 because he did not like the person he was becoming in the BEE scene, seeing it as pretentious and unsustainable. These days, Aubrey is a talk show host on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape talk. His regular show “Talk with Aubrey” is on a Sunday evening at 23h00 to Monday morning at 01h00.

The four-day ANC policy conference at the Gallagher estate is yet another example of the posturing of a party fast running out of excuses for lack of delivery. This should not have been a conference about new policies, it should rather have been about the implementation of existing policies. Or is the second coming closer than we thought? 

Two months ago I penned a piece called The Second Transition: Necessity or expedience in this publication. In it I interrogated what I believed to be the true intentions of the discussion document known as the “Second Transition: Strategies and Tactics”. 

It was to be a discussion document tabled by the current leadership of the ANC at their four-day policy conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, for deliberation and final adoption as ANC policy at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in December. In a nutshell, I contended in the aforementioned article that this discussion document was nothing more than a smokescreen by the current leadership to give the illusion of radical policy change in order to retain power. 

Regrettably, I have not changed my opinions about the content and intention behind the document, neither have I changed my mind about the final result of this conference as stipulated in that article. In fact, this conference has strengthened my resolve. I suggest you read it in order to understand the context of the commentary in this article.

As the ANC attempts to reinvent itself for yet another 100 years of meaningful participation in South African politics, it must revisit the fundamental basis for its ascendency into power as the governing party of the South African state. Failure to do so will ensure the continuation of the slippery slide deeper into the abyss of the ineptocracy our state has become under the ANC. 

In a week when the failure to provide textbooks – almost seven months into the academic year – to the most vulnerable pupils in Limpopo province by the department of basic education for no reason other than pure incompetence, the governing party gathers for a lavish four-day talk shop. The deliberations at Gallagher estate will not have produced any meaningful changes for the people on the ground, particularly those who vote for the ANC  because of a fundamental attitude of entitlement which reigns in the psyche of many in the leadership of the ANC. 

It is an attitude that stems from the unfortunate delusion carried in the general narrative: “We fought and won the freedom which we now enjoy” and which therefore entitles us to anything and everything. It is this attitude that is at the heart of many of the governing party’s failures.

There is no doubt that the ANC (although not alone) was at the forefront of the battle against the scourge of Apartheid, neither is there any doubt that many sacrifices – including death – by many South Africans was the price for an envisaged democratic system. For this, South Africa will be forever indebted to those heroes and heroines of the struggle for liberation from the tyranny of Apartheid. 

It must be emphasised that the struggle for liberation was one aimed at normalising an abnormal situation – the criminal domination of the majority of the people of this country – and not the struggle for the continuation of the oppression of the same majority by a legitimately elected political elite. 

Furthermore, it was not the intention of these heroes and heroines to hijack state resources from the previous gang of political sociopaths so that they could now gorge themselves at the trough through tenderpreneurship, careerism and graft. Theirs was to usher in a dispensation of legitimacy, democracy and openness. Dare I say, theirs was not even to govern but to remove the yoke of oppression from the people of South Africa. They were not politicians, they were freedom fighters.

The argument advanced by the proponents of the second transition is for the continuation of the struggle of the freedom fighters, except that it is one waged in the institutions of governance and not in the bush (or the streets of our townships). It sounds eerily like the noise of politicians. 

We are told of the need for “radical change” in the battle against the triple threats of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The counter-argument to this would be: what happened to the as-yet unimplemented policies agreed upon at previous conferences of the same movement, which were aimed precisely at dealing with the same issues? What is the reason for the failure to implement the policies around land restitution, the mining charters and the Setas? All of these were negotiated and agreed upon by all the stakeholders in those sectors and heavily financed by the state treasury for implementation. All of whose coffers have been looted and depleted by unscrupulous, incompetent cadres motivated by nothing else but greed, fuelled by “we fought and won the freedom which we now enjoy”.

Indeed, much ado has been made about those white farmers who, for example , in the case of land restitution, inflate their prices until it becomes too expensive for government to purchase the farms for the land-restitution process. But the state is well equipped to employ independent auditors to ascertain the true value of a piece of land to nullify such intransigence. The same is true for all other sectors where political will has not been exercised to implement existing policies. The governing party must also realise the expectation that people will automatically agree to their policies is wishful thinking. People will, as a matter of course, contest policies. This is a democracy. That is why we have bargaining chambers, mediators and courts. The policies are there, implement them!

So excuse us when we don’t buy what seems to be an exercise in political expediency by a faction within the governing party as the looming reality of losing its grip on the levers of power grows larger. They have successfully conned all 3,000 of the delegates at the policy conference to argue the semantics of a document that bares no relevance to the lives of ordinary people. Those who have seen through their scam (within their ranks) have been intimidated into submission and silence because they too have been feeding at the trough of corruption and have no moral credibility to raise their voices against the hijacking of a movement. 

Sadly, what was supposed to be a discussion on policy has been used as a proxy for identifying support or dissent in the succession battle. It was once said by an eminent leader of the movement that “the ANC will rule until Jesus comes”. That second coming might be sooner than we realise. DM


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