The ANC policies are permanent
- Bongani Mbindwane
- 09 Nov 2015 12:52 (South Africa)
The African National Congress’ (ANC’s) role as an internationally recognised government of South Africa, from the 1970s in particular, installed its president, Oliver Tambo, as de facto president of the republic, with observer status at various multilateral international organisations. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was most prestigious, and most important to the ANC. With this recognition, the ANC had to open foreign representative offices in various world capitals.
The National Party regime was seen as illegitimate by many nations. Some realised this with events such as forced removals, the Stephen Biko murder, repeated states of emergencies, the 1975-1976 (June 16) school riots, and incursions into Frontline States bought apartheid into to sharper focus. Terrorist attacks by the former National Party on ANC offices in London, the United States and Mozambique also opened the international community to the realities of the brutal apartheid regime.
By the 1980s the ANC had already developed the framework for a constitution, culminating in the articulation of proposals for a political settlement, and for negotiations to resolve what seemed like an intractable apartheid problem. The Harare Declaration of August 1989, developed by the ANC, received broad international acceptance by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Southern Africa of the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Frontline States and the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN-GA), sucking out the oxygen the Afrikaner government had left. The Harare Declaration became the biggest weapon in Tambo’s arsenal, and rendered apartheid regime fully isolated. It also efficiently, yet effectively, defined South Africa’s political future, political system, future constitutional culture and basic political beliefs.
In February 1993, prior to the establishment of the Constituent Assembly, the ANC published a revised set of 24 articles it called, “Bill of Rights of the new South Africa”. These articles became the foundation of the South African constitution as adopted in 1996. Since then, a single phrase represents what holds true, and important from these ANC “socialist progressive” policies. Socialist progressive political ideology effectively became “law” through the push for a progressive constitutional order, and this construct represents the political experiences of the past 21 years.
South Africa’s prevailing constitutional order has forced the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) to go through a major metamorphosis that is keen to confusion, and mimicking the ANC, or as young people would say, has made DA “diet ANC” or “ANC light”. The slow dance by the DA towards progressive politics is forced by the constitutional order that contains many socio economic rights alongside typical liberal rights. In its foundation, the DA is a liberal political force diametrically opposed to the socialist progressive rights that South Africa’s founding parents insisted be incorporated in the constitution.
These include rights that are financially broadest in the world, including non-discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and marital status etc. It addressed material oppression with the right to shelter, water, food, health care and education, including basic adult education and literacy.
With a ravaged economy unable to raise International Monetary Fund (IMF) debt and bonds then, the apartheid regime cost to the economy is estimated at R28,4 trillion ($2 trillion) in today’s estimates. This cost is what fixing the South African socio-economic ills will ultimately cost and the constitution is a classic “I owe you,” and expects this amount to be paid through a Bill of Rights, and taxes. These are economic rights and human rights in one. Some believe the ANC should have managed to deal with such cost in just twenty years. Apartheid crimes, and related costs, are now being paid for by all, including its poor victims while its purveyors bask in glory and freedom.
The very right for one man one vote had to be paid for in debt, with then Minister Derek Keys getting a desperate cash loan of $850 million in September 1993 from IMF, or else the elections were not to take place as the apartheid government was literally bankrupt. Inflation from 1975 to 1992 averaged at 14%. In Zurich, Keys got relief from14 creditors to reschedule $5 billion repayments. Mandela’s charm did it all, and the apartheid regime used it well as he and 150 other were part of the IMF, and other creditors delegations.
Fringe mavericks like the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the Azanian Peoples Organisation (Azapo), who called for an Africanist state, were effectively taken out of business. Their politics became constitutionally invalid. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Democratic Party and New Nationalist Party also became invalid.
Adopting this constitution was not easy. Opposition to the ANC was massive. President Nelson Mandela was advised to prepare two speeches for the 8th May, one to welcome the new order and the other to, once again, call for calm just in case Assembly Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa missed the interim constitution deadline.
In the current period, the new maverick parties, like Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and fall out of business politics, and remain in the fringes the non-starter politics, in as far as our realistic constitutional order is concerned. Part of the EFF platform resembles that of the PAC, with a dose of Chaviste politics.
The politics of the EFF do not even attempt to pass first base in constitutionalism. None of the promises they make could ever be implemented without an entirely new constitution. To change the Constitution, you require the EFF to receive 66% of the vote in a general election.
It is not far0fetched to make a claim that the EFF are simply playing games with their followers, and making them march under the hot sun for virtually unattainable demands, and zero ideas on how to get a 66% popular mandate.
There is no business that will ever give the state 51% free carry ownership. It will not happen, and the sooner the young people realise this, the better, so that their youthful energies could be invested elsewhere.
As the liberal, Mmusi Maimane, sings liberal ideology opposed freedom struggle songs, and toyi-toyi, and proclaims “power to the people” (amandla awethu), not to capital, a clear socialist slogan, he is forced into this corner by the socialist progressive – ANC inspired constitution. It is clear the ANC accepted that one day in future it might be replaced as government, but intended that its policies on general government management become supreme law. The DA having been forced to move away from its pure liberal politics, it cannot even say no to free higher education, a standard item for international liberals. It must now decide whether it remains a pseudo liberal party, or just come out of the closet as a left-leaning party. The party is currently in a forty days and forty nights ideological wilderness stray.
With the comfort that we would, askMandela promised, “never” have American-like rich first, ideological political framework as an option, the DA is forced into the ANC agenda. We must be comforted that EFF will not make South Africa another Zimbabwe, or Venezuela where the military tends grocery stores, and where McDonald’s large fries now cost $129 (800 bolivars or R1,900) a packet.
The DA will not get its death penalty, it demanded, nor will the Maimane referendum on it change law. The DA cannot outlaw their loathed affirmative action law, the Employment Equity Act and not replace it with similar. No matter what they dream up, economic redress must continue.
The ANC out-maneuvered their opponents with permanency of its manifesto, taking the status of the Ten Commandments. Perhaps with this it does make sense when president Jacob Zuma says, “the ANC shall rule until Jesus returns”. Irrespective of which party rules, it shall implement the ANC policies contained in the Constitution. The Constitution effectively replaced the 1955 Freedom Charter. The rest of the Parliament performances are for the gallery, and nothing more.
So anyone who says they can implement these ANC policies better than the ANC, itself, must first understand their true meaning, spirit, and origin in effect know the ANC backroom. It will require for opposition political parties to acquiesce to this. No amount of EFF leader Julius Malema’s or DA’s Mmusi Maimane harangues render, them better implementers of ANC policy, and the voters have repeatedly said so. No parliamentary histrionics from either man would break this real ANC wall, the nation’s Constitution.
As aforementioned, the ANC’s socialist progressive redress policies found in our Constitution are extremely expensive to implement. They give economic rights to South Africans, and her residents. We must be fed, sheltered, medicated when sick, hospitalised, and given first world medical care, and legal services, social wage, be educated, be given a job opportunity, and happiness, all 54 million of us. Mandela understood this heavy expense, and always taught patience. As fees fall, they fall not to thin air, they do so on the lap of the collective “we”, and not just individuals. In truth fees do not fall, they just roll over. DM