Opinionista Prithiraj Dullay 28 July 2017

The ANC cannot be reformed – the rot is too deep

It is very transparent that the ANC of today has little moral connection with the liberation movement and the lofty ideals of the Tambos, the Sisulus, the Mbekis and the Kathradas. The 105-year-old movement has been sold for 30 pieces of silver. The mantle of its great struggle legacy lies in shreds, tattered by the very people who claim to hold sole rights over its history.

That matters have come to a head in South Africa is going to prove to be the catalyst for change that is overdue. The myth that the ANC is governing the country for the benefit of all its people has been smashed. It has become a party of the ANC elites who have one agenda, which is using their position to loot the state for as much as each can get away with. The broad sweep of anti-Zuma marches in all major cities on Friday 7 April 2017 sent a powerful, if skewered, selective message: change is imperative. They called for the removal of a terminally corrupt president, not for an ending of the vice grip of a neo-liberal economy or land distribution or changes that will fundamentally address the creation of a truly equitable society.

The opportunism was glaringly present. Whites turned out in great numbers for the first time in South African history to protest against anything. As many persons of colour have wryly remarked, they turned out to protest the downgrading of SA into “junk status” because their pockets are being hit. Questions were asked with all seriousness: Where were white people protesting after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 that killed 69 black people, where were they when the police and army killed hundreds in 1976-77. Why did they not protest murders in detention and the skewered economy, that saw the white South Africans enjoying the highest living standard in the world, while black people were dying of malnutrition in the reservations and townships? Why did they not march to protest the apartheid crime against humanity? Yes, there were the miniscule protests of the white women’s Black Sash and the handful of whites in the Communist Party. So when questions are raised now about their motivation, one cannot help but be very sceptical. Yet this passive past cannot exclude whites from joining the ranks of the democratic forces challenging the status quo.

One cannot forget that the ANC was the midwife that delivered the the ending of apartheid and the birth of democracy; that it was the one organisation, which, however falteringly, co-ordinated the growing resistance both inside and outside the country. Nor can it be forgotten that in the initial euphoria, some progress in providing basics to the people was successful. Then came the sell-out to the IMF and the big banks. The ANC led the country into the neo-liberal economy trap. In essence this meant that the status quo would remain, viz, the economy in white hands and the multi-nationals, little emphasis on fulfilling the demands of the Freedom Charter, as limited as this was. It was, with a few tweaks here and there, business as usual. Of course the new black elite had to be accommodated with shares and directorships in the mega white corporates. The white captains of industry added another line of defence. The new black elite would be there to fend off black demands for an economy that allowed for full participation and economic justice. And the reality is that the new elite is doing an excellent job of shoring up the status quo.

It is also very transparent that the ANC of today has little moral connection with the liberation movement and the lofty ideals of the Tambos, the Sisulus, the Mbekis and the Kathradas. The 107-year-old movement has been sold out for 30 pieces of silver. The mantle of its great struggle legacy lies in shreds, tattered by the very people who claim to hold sole rights over its history. Making matters worse is that these miscreants have used the very noble history of the ANC to destroy the movement from within. The sad reality is that there is no ANC any more; just the decaying remains of a body feasted upon by the Gupta maggots and their captured state friends.

It is a question of wonder: How could the once glorious movement be stripped of its moral high ground, its integrity and trustworthiness in such a very short time. It took over a 100 years to build a powerful organisation that vanquished apartheid. It took less than 10 years for its own leaders to bring it to its knees just as it tasted the fruits of victory. And this was done, not by the forces of apartheid, but by its very own leaders in collaboration with reactionary forces! This reeks of a complete betrayal of all those who pinned their hopes for a better life, for a solid constitutional democracy, for an equitable society and happiness after 340 years of every misery imaginable.

The elephant in the room’s presence is being ignored by seemingly paralysed South Africans who turn to other equally perplexed countrymen: What is to be done? Can the the ANC be saved? Can it be revived under a new leadership?

My unequivocal answer is: No, it cannot! The rot has settled deep into its core. Like the proverbial fish, it has rotted from its head down its entire length to its very tail. No, the ANC is dying. The paralysis is so widespread that every excuse trumped up in its defence is done so by a moribund National Executive Committee (NEC), fearful of its own complicity in state capture and corruption being exposed. Those in the MK Veterans Association, the ANC Women’s League and Youth League, the Tripartite Alliance of the Congress of Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party are scrambling to plug the huge cracks in the dykes, or are deserting the sinking ship. Their excuses are derided and shrill puppet voices are wafted away by the growing protests across the land.

Is a revival of the ANC possible? No, for the simple reason that it is chosen, not the path of a sustainable constitutional democracy, but of a treasonous connivance of the leadership with external forces, like the Guptas, the Bell Pottingers and others yet to be named, to capture the state for purposes of mass looting and to cover their tracks by deflecting criticism to other quarters.

Betrayal” is the one word that encapsulates what the ANC has done to the centuries old, cherished dream of political and economic freedom and a restoration of the dignity and hopes of nation.

More than that, we are fully aware of the devastation the apartheid education did to generations of our children, yet the ANC government has allowed the “capture” of education by a union that has not the interests of our children, but solely that of its members. This is perhaps the cruellest betrayal. Another generation lost, and a second on the way.

Coming from a university background, I know that the calibre of a very large number of students arriving to study at tertiary level falls far short of basic entry requirements. First-year failure rates bear me witness. I am deeply saddened because in my soul I know that any good teacher who is a guru, will inspire, motivate and instil self-belief in the poorest of students to make each realise the potential of his/her intellect. I did it, therefore I know that it can be done… for the love of our children.

Perhaps now we know where we are headed educationally. It has been astoundingly suggested that mathematics pass for Grades 7, 8 and 9 be reduced to 20% for promotion purposes. SA is already ranked next to last out of 138 countries in maths education. In effect this reduces our education to “junk status”!

The South African Broadcasting Corporation’s highest post was given to braggart (who forged his matriculation certificate) in the mould of Donald Trump who expelled its best talent and replaced them with sycophants, who sang his praises. The SABC became as trashy as its leadership, all bluster with no substance.

Each of South Africa’s parastatals: Eskom, Transnet, Denel, South African Airways were simply run to ground by totally incompetent leadership. Just 17 municipalities across the land are functioning in accordance with their mandates. The remainder are relics of plundered resources, both of government and local residents.

Over 100 incapacitated pensioners were moved from government care and handed over to private NGOs, with no checks on the background of the new service providers. The result was that more than 90 died of thirst, starvation or neglect of the provision of medication. Yet, no heads have rolled. Why?

Crime is totally out of control. It has to be when the Minister of Police calls for security guards to protect police and police stations from attack by the very same criminals it is supposed to keep in check. Is there a trustworthy record of the number of police issue guns stolen annually since 1994? How many have been recovered? How many police dockets have gone conveniently/inconveniently missing; ending judicial processes?

I could go on asking a thousand questions beginning with: “How many…?” We know that we will get no answers and those that we do are little more than cover ups.

The ANC has self-destructed. Peoples’ Power has to re-manifest itself through civil society organisations that call for a national convention to chart a new way forward so that we can reclaim our dignity as a nation. DM

PR Dullay is an academic, author, columnist, and environmental and human rights activist. He fled the country in 1978 to Denmark with his wife and daughter after two assassination attempts. Mala and the writer also taught at the ANC school in Morogoro, Tanzania in 1981-82. The Dullays were central to a number of anti-apartheid campaigns that increasingly isolated the apartheid regime. The family returned to South Africa in 1992.


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