Defend Truth


A Question about the ANC Policy Conference

Siya Khumalo writes about religion, politics and sex. He is the author of ‘You Have To Be Gay To Know God’ (Kwela Books, 2018), which won the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Literary Prize. Follow him on @SKhumalo1987 (Insta and Twitter), or like his Facebook page With Siya Khumalo.

Conversations with politically clued-up persons reveal that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will win the ANC’s succession race this December, beating Cyril Ramaphosa. This seems to be an open secret in politics — written, scripted, foreordained.

Let’s look at the maths necessitating this. Cyril’s faction would fill positions from which they’d initiate processes to offer Zuma and his cronies up as sacrificial lambs to wash the ANC’s many sins away. But just how sure are our handlers (the Guptas) that Dlamini-Zuma can win now and carry the ANC through 2019? Sipho Pityana does not mince his words about the plan as he imagines it:

We shouldn’t rule out the possibility that Jacob Zuma’s project to sell South Africa’s sovereignty could involve rigging the ANC elections in 2017, and even the national elections in 2019.”

In an article titled ANC conference: It’s not about policy, stupid — it’s about who wins, Stephen Grootes says the meeting starting this afternoon is important only because it,

gives us the best possible test of the relative strength of the different factions.”

It’s not about which ideas win; it’s about whose faction does. It’s about who’s willing to play dirtiest. Now, the tribalism the ANC used to shore up support cannot take the party forward through an educated woman. On Voting Day, all manner of sins shall be forgiven the ANC, but for the sin of presenting a woman as the country’s presidential candidate while the country wages a war against women’s bodies, there will be forgiveness in neither this term nor in the term to come. “But the ANC is about gender equality!” some will say. Not quite. While it’s one thing to get ANC members at an elective conference to vote for a female leader, it would take a miracle to repeat that at a national scale.

Could Dubai commission a PR strategy to overcome this that wouldn’t simultaneously dismantle the thought patterns that have made the ANC’s looting more tolerable than the idea of a woman president? Impossible: once patriarchy is challenged, so, too, are tribalism and nationalism. But for fun, let’s imagine the ways a would-be Bell Pottinger could get around this patriarchy without exposing the ANC’s low-key abuse of nationalism, race politics and tribalism:

They could position Dlamini-Zuma as a natural continuation of Zuma’s legacy. The challenge there is Zuma’s greatest achievement as president was becoming president. There’s little else for a protégé to repeat.

Another way out of the conundrum would be to have Dlamini-Zuma’s persona so completely eclipse her husband’s, it would be tantamount to emasculating him. Her message would be, “What was impossible with this man will be possible with me” – namely land expropriation and the “radical” transformation (read: deformation) of the economy.

Or a hybrid approach: he loosened the lid from the jar she’s now unscrewing open. But how would they formulate that message and roll it out in two years, given people’s growing disenchantment with the ANC and, consequently, a higher threshold of scepticism to overcome?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the patronage network’s only way through the much-needed 2019 with any of its favoured candidates would be what Pityana said — election rigging. The question we should be asking ourselves isn’t whether elections are free and fair; it’s to what extent they haven’t been, and to what further extent they won’t be going forward.

Accordingly, this is the question we should be asking ANC attendees delegated to this conference: what is the going rate for a parliamentary seat’s worth of votes? Does anything else matter? Soon after the Constitutional Court said,

Central to the freedom ‘to follow the dictates of personal conscience’ is the oath of office. Members [of Parliament] are required to swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution and laws. Nowhere does the supreme law provide for them to swear allegiance to their political parties, important players though they are in our constitutional scheme.”

The ANC replied that its MPs are

representatives of the ANC in Parliament and derive their mandate from the political party which deployed them.”

Just so we’re clear, never has an organisation sung so consistently from the same hymnbook on any other issue. This means no organisation’s members have ever been as unanimously in on a gig. History experts, tell me: treason been committed at this scale? ANC experts, tell me: does the party’s idea of “the revolution” entail violating the country’s Constitution? These are not philosophical questions; they have enormous economic implications. Do you know how much more money we could save for even more looting if we replaced the ANC’s MPs with one Luthuli House correspondent, and elections with auctions?

Many questions, issues and answers will take up airspace at this time. The discourse will move along much faster, and everything peripheral will instantly fall into place, if we approach the next two years asking everyone in the ANC just one question: what is the going rate for a parliamentary seat’s worth of votes?

Wouldn’t you want to know how much your body and soul were worth, if you’d been put on the slave market? If you’d been trafficked or had your organs auctioned off? I’d want to know.

I have friends in the ANC. All I’d want to know from them is how much were they paid for my freedom. DM


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted