Opinionista Rebone Tau 21 September 2017

ANC Road to December: ‘Unity’ must not be abused for self-serving purposes

If the ANC allows individual ambitions to dominate instead of doing what is right come the December elective conference, we will see trouble when it comes to the 2019 general elections.

Unity has been a paramount issue in the ANC since it was unbanned. Mpumalanga ANC Chairperson David Mabuza has recently been talking about the importance of unity. However, one gets concerned that the unity he is preaching is just about him becoming Deputy President of the ANC.

The issue is the “how” part of working towards unity within the ANC. We know that the ANC in Mpumalanga has pronounced its preference for Mabuza to be Deputy President going into the 54th National Elective Conference in December.

There have been ANC PWC meetings between Mpumalanga and other provinces to discuss unity and to do away with the slate politics of “winner takes all.”

We have all seen what the “winner takes all” approach has done to the movement. Factions are not a new phenomenon. One can go back to 1948 when the ANCYL supported Dr J S Moroka, as he had agreed to support the 1949 Programme of Action of the ANCYL.

How would Mabuza unite the ANC if he has also been asked to avail himself? This process needs leaders who are not available to serve in the ANC NEC to be the ones preaching unity because you can’t preach unity if your name is also mentioned. Who would you unify in this case and how? Proposing an alternative candidate is something that could also be questioned. What informs that decision and who took that decision? Is comrade Mabuza prepared to step back and not avail himself for the sake of unity?

No one can talk about unity without referring to the two comrades seen as front-runners going to the conference in December – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. They are both wanted by members to lead the ANC. There can never be unity unless a way can be found for both their names to appear on one list, if indeed there is a view that the conference must not be contested.

Those who are saying that the conference must not be contested must revisit the ANCYL 1991 national elective congress. They will understand that unity is not about saying “let’s unite” but rather, “I am also available to lead”. Those who attended that congress will tell you that the race was between the late Peter Mokaba and Rapu Molekane. In the end, Molekane emerged as the SG of the ANCYL.

One can also not talk about unity without engaging with the ANC’s 101 Veterans and Stalwarts. They have asked for a consultative conference which would have also dealt with issues of contestation going to this conference and finding ways to unite the movement. The issue of unity needs the elders, as their wisdom is needed during these trying times. There can be no talk of unity without the alliance too, as members of Cosatu and the SACP are also members of the ANC.

The struggle is about advancing the National Democratic Revolution and making sure the ANC is a leader of society. Although most South Africans love the ANC, many of them are struggling and living in poverty.

If we don’t do things right when we go into this conference and instead think about our individual ambitions, the ANC will see flames come the 2019 general elections. Unity is about self-correcting and allowing those with the capacity to take the ANC forward. DM

Rebone Tau is a former ANCYL National Task Team Member


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