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23 March 2017 23:56 (South Africa)
Opinionista Nic Haralambous

Forget Petitions and Marches, I’m Joining The ANC

  • Nic Haralambous
    nic-haralambous.jpg
    Nic Haralambous

    Nic Haralambous is the founder of NicHarry.com, a style company based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Currently, the online petition for President Jacob Zuma to step down has over 150, 000 signatures.These people want to be change agents, but they want to sit at home, moan, click a button and make change magically appear. They want to march to the Union Buildings without a plan, without an agenda and without a leader to bring cohesion. Instead, I’d like all of those people to join me in becoming a member of the ANC.

I am joining the ANC and you should too.

I am a South African. I have been an active voting member of the South African democracy since I was 18 years old. I have voted in every election that I have been legally able to. I am an entrepreneur building things of value in South Africa. I create employment and grow the economy. I have attracted international capital into South Africa. I pay my taxes and I actively add to a robust democracy that I am proud of. I’m also feeling a bit lost and despondent about the state of our country for the first time in my 31 years.

The South African democracy is in its infancy and that means instability is inevitable and an integral part of the process. We’re all flexing our muscles and finding our feet. This isn’t a new phenomenon and it wont change anytime soon. Being a young democracy also means that voters are learning how to vote and citizens are learning how to exist productively in said democracy.

A quick recap on the state of things politically

In the last election the ruling party in South Africa, The African Nation Congress (ANC) won 62.15% of the votes. The leading opposition, The Democratic Alliance (DA) won 22.23% and a new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) won 6.35%. The rest of the votes were distributed among the other parties in SA. We have a Proportional Representation system, so everyone gets a seat if they win the votes. This is unlike the US system of First Past the Post where a single party controls.

Our national elections take place every 5 years, and the president is able to stay in power for two terms, which means that one person can, in many ways, define a nation for a decade. I don’t see the ANC losing a national election for at least the next two decades - at least. Let’s do the maths and make some guestimations. If the ANC loses 5% of the vote in every election, that totals 20% loss over 20 years. Which means they’ll go down to ±40% of the votes. Let us, then, assume that 10% of the ANC’s previous votes go to the DA (now ±30%) and 10% to the EFF (that’s %16), this means that the ANC still has a majority 20 years from now, and they still hold power.

I’m actually not against this outcome at all. What I am against is that I have no involvement in their process. I’d like to change that. Currently the ANC has around 769,000 members. If you are an ANC member, this is what you are allowed to do for and in the party:

RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MEMBERS

An ANC member has the right to:

  • Take a full and active part in the discussion, formulation and implementation of the policy of the ANC.
  • Receive and impart information on all aspects of ANC policy and activities.
  • Offer constructive criticism of any member, official, policy programme or activity of the ANC within its structures.
  • Take part in elections and be elected or appointed to any committee, structure, commission or delegation of the ANC.
  • Submit proposals or statements through the appropriate structures to the branch, province, region or NEC.

An ANC member has a duty to:

  • Combat propaganda detrimental to the interests of the ANC and defend the policy, aims and programme of the ANC.
  • Fight against racism, tribal chauvinism, sexism, religious and political intolerance or any other form of discrimination or chauvinism.
  • Observe discipline, behave honestly and carry out loyally decisions of the majority and decisions of higher bodies.

Why do I bring this up? Because I am joining the ANC so that I can do the following: 

  • Take a full and active part in the discussion, formulation and implementation of the policy of the ANC.
  • Receive and impart information on all aspects of ANC policy and activities.
  • Offer constructive criticism of any member, official, policy programme or activity of the ANC within its structures.

As a citizen of South Africa I want to be actively involved in the party that is in power. In case you were not aware, the ANC elects a leader at a national congress. Once that leader is elected, they will become our president. This will happen for the indefinite future until the ANC loses a national election. Voting in a democracy with a predetermined leader and victor is broken. It is broken because once that leader is in power, all of the senior ANC members who put him/her there serve at the pleasure of the president, and can be fired, just like the ex-Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

Our system is flawed and the only way to gain back some power as citizens in South Africa is to join the ruling party. This way, we are able to influence, even in a small way, who becomes the ANC leader and inevitably, the leader of South Africa. Currently the online petition for Zuma to step down has over 150,000 signatures. These people want to be change agents, but they want to sit at home, moan, click a button and make change magically appear. They want to march to the Union Buildings without a plan, without an agenda and without a leader to bring cohesion. Instead, I’d like all of those people to join me in becoming a member of the ANC. If 150,000 people join the ANC that would make up ±16% of the total ANC membership. Now imagine if 10% of these new members engaged in the next ANC national congress. That’s 15 000 individuals who have a voice inside of the ANC and are allowed to “Offer constructive criticism of any member, official, policy programme or activity of the ANC within its structures”. If we continue to stand on the outside looking in we will have no voice, we will have no say and we will enact no change. DM

  • Nic Haralambous
    nic-haralambous.jpg
    Nic Haralambous

    Nic Haralambous is the founder of NicHarry.com, a style company based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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