South Africans understand how the African National Congress functions, in both its party-political form but also as the governing party. The understanding drills down to the internal workings of the ANC and has created a degree of certainty that the ANC will behave in a particular and structured manner. The degree of certainty has afforded South Africans with a road map, however, that tradition and certainty has been lost.
The ANC is required to act in the interest of the Republic and, important, has a duty to uphold the Constitution; however, what we now encounter is ANC deployees that act against the interest of the country. Those deployees are not simply rank and file members of the ANC but hold positions of state power used to serve vested interest and jockey for positions at the expense of the country.
We know a great deal about the internal workings of the ANC while we know very little about what happens within the DA or the EFF.
Do we have a real sense about why an internal disciplinary process against Helen Zille can be dragged out for this long while charges against Mbali Ntuli, former youth leader and member of the provincial legislature in KwaZulu-Natal, can be brought so quickly?
Do we have a real sense of how policy and decisions are made within the EFF or DA?
As much as the future of the ANC is important for our country, we must not forget that we need to demand more from the opposition parties that are coveting our trust and support as we approach 2019.
The Constitutional Court in the Nkandla judgment in March of last year held that the two other spheres of government had failed to uphold their constitutional obligations. There is no doubt that there is tension between the role of the judiciary, in particular its role in providing oversight to the legislature and executive. South Africans are now faced with both a legislature and executive that have been consumed by capture, and the self-interest and selfish agenda of those who have no business in serving in positions that should be used in the interest of the people of South Africa. The National Assembly should hold the Executive accountable, but on countless occasions, including the Sassa debacle as well as the Nkandla scandal, has failed to fulfil that duty.
South Africa’s trias politica has collapsed. South Africans now look to our judiciary to govern and steer our country in a particular direction. Using our courts to ensure that the legislature and executive will abide by their constitutional obligations and within the bounds of the rule of law.
Opposition parties, led by the United Democratic Movement, approached the Constitutional Court in order to provide cover to the ANC deployees in Parliament to vote with their conscience. However, members of the National Assembly cannot be shielded by a ruling of the Constitutional Court. Those members of Parliament must act honourably and the Constitutional Court cannot correct the imperfections of our system that has allowed recalcitrant deployees into Parliament to shield and protect a man who was found by the Constitutional Court to have failed in upholding his oath of office.
Those very deployees have failed to hold the Minister of Social Development accountable, or her other colleagues in Cabinet. Our constitutional fabric has essentially collapsed and our democracy remains under threat for as long as oversight and accountability are avoided.
The relief sought in the Constitutional Court on the issue of a secret ballot pushes the envelope on the separation of powers, where the applicants claim that this issue is tantamount to exceptional circumstances, where the court is asked to intrude into the decision-making and discretion of another sphere of government by directing the Speaker of Parliament to determine that the vote of no confidence in the President of the Republic should be done by secret ballot.
The provision of a secret ballot will not account for the breakdown within the ANC’s internal democratic processes. The removal of the President will also not resolve issues in which Minister Lynne Brown could act with disdain for the rule of law and justice by sanctioning the reappointment of a man to Eskom with a muddy background that was highlighted in the Public Protector’s report last year into state capture and the role that man played at Eskom in service of state capture.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling on a secret ballot will not resolve the manner in which President Zuma, and his colleagues, conduct themselves and the fact that they continue to hack away at both the internal processes of the ANC and the rule of law that is required to bind all South Africans.
It is in these trying times that we must consider whether the ANC is going to be able to embrace moral courage and ethical leadership. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on whether Members of Parliament can vote by secret ballot will not give those deployees the necessary gumption or direction to realign and self-correct from the self-interest and capture. We cannot pretend that our courts alone will be able to restore and rebuild our fragile trias politica.
The question of moral courage and ethical leadership was alluded to when Trevor Manuel addressed the inaugural Kader Asmal Memorial lecture that was hosted by the Gaby Shapiro ANC branch at the University of Cape Town. It was a question that continued to be relevant when Manuel addressed delegates at the Ethics Institute’s conference in Midrand to question whether deployees and leaders have simply lost their way.
Sadly, those attending both the ANC local branch meeting and perhaps those at the Ethics Institute’s conference as well were hoping to find solutions and answers to these crazy times. All while those driven by self-interest and capture are busy campaigning and using public money even at the renaming of local authorities in the Harry Gwala region of KZN Midlands to drive a very divisive agenda.
Are these the leaders that we once knew? Did something encourage them to forget how to do the right thing? Is this the same ANC that worked so tirelessly in order to achieve freedom? We must be reminded that the answers do not reside in the current jockeying for position as the ANC approaches its elective conference or with the former leaders of the ANC that are now raising their voices, nor with court determinations. The only real answer is that the internal processes of the ANC must be realigned so that the party-political can serve the interests of governing and the people of South Africa. DM
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