The African National Congress, both as a liberation project and governing party, faces daunting challenges.
Changes in the strategic environment deamand a rethinking and deliberate balancing. The strategic rebalancing needs to give way to a dialogue over ideas to manage the multiple dilemmas that blight our national life, a stagnant (now recessionary) economy dominated by racialised cartels, and emboldened reactionary forces buoyed by electoral fortunes.
However, a culture of pornographic and unproductive factionalism has become all-consuming within the ruling party, forestalling an imminently cardinal engagement within the organisation, and is devouring the body politic of the sole instrument of African people’s emancipation.
At the heart of the internecine antagonism between the myriad factions is control over state institutions. The state is seen, by the contending factions, not as a site of production of history but rather as a site of accumulation.
The abolition of the colonial-apartheid system of governance and its attended institutions did not resolve the conflict between the social democratic idea, as expressed in the National Democratic Revolution, and the reality of largely racialised social divisions. A great deal of work remains to be done. There still remains an urgent need to achieve an estate of equal citizenship for the historically marginalised black, particularly African people, not just in theory but as a matter of socio-economic fact. Today this process of social democratisation, though advanced, largely because of deliberate policies of the African National Congress, remains incomplete.
We have no need for a litany of statics for the purposes of this intervention. The plain fact is that black Africans are vastly and proportionally over-represented among those who suffer the maladies and afflictions of social marginality in South Africa, however measured. African communities are among the most miserable, violent, and despairing places in this land of fabulous wealth. The prisons are overflowing with young African black men, rates of infection with HIV and other chronic diseases are unacceptably and terrifyingly high in African poor communities, African communities experience lower life expectancies, higher infant mortality rates, lower levels of academic achievement, higher poverty rates, and greater unemployment.
Thus, it is mind-boggling that in the midst of an acute socio-economic emergency, the party of that imminent son of our revolution, OR Tambo, should be bound hand and foot by unproductive factional intrigues. The factional fractures have become unbridgeable ideological chasms.
On the one hand, a faction much maligned by the white-owned media and the chattering classes, distinguished by its callous incompetence and a lackadaisical attitude towards public finances, has sloppily and belatedly donned itself with “revolutionary” garments.
On the other hand, we have a faction of cynical snake-oil salesmen who are wont on insisting that the National Democratic Revolution as a governing ethos can have no other function than to serve and safeguard the interests and economic-cultural domination of white monopoly capital, which they insist, astonishingly, is a figment of our imagination.
The net effect of these factional contrivances has been the incremental socio-cultural civic ex-communication of the oldest liberation movement on the African continent. There has been a marked demoralisation on the constituent elements of the National Democratic Revolution as expressed in the worrisome results of the 2016 local government elections.
As we deliberate in the policy conference, we must reassert the ethos of service to our disinherited popular masses. We must reject cults of personalities and unproductive factionalism that are leading our revolution adrift. We must categorically and boldly assert that white monopoly capital is the enemy of a sovereign people, and adopt policies that unflinchingly challenge power of the finance-industrial-resource white complex. Equally we must send an unequivocal message to the contemptuous philistine section that we lost our best sons and daughters in the struggle for to liberate this country. We will therefore not mortgage the inheritance of our forebears for defiled pieces of silver.
The primary role of the African National Congress, as the steward of civic cohesion, insurer of geopolitical integrity, guarantor of social progress, and a depository of historic experience, is to direct society’s gaze to the effective truth of national redemption, commonly known as the National Democratic Revolution. This task must be undertaken with revolutionary moral clarity and energy. DM
Andile Lungisa is former deputy president of the ANC, Eastern Cape.
"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle