The ANC has survived throughout its history by adaptation to new conditions, and it needs urgently to adapt again now – for the party's own survival, and for the urgent need of the nation.
ANC branches committed the worst blunder in its history by deploying Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma as President.
No individual can now save South Africa. To save the country we need the entire population in action, as in the days of United Democratic Front and Mass Democratic Movement.
Unity against Zuma as a rallying point has reached unexpected levels. ANC democrats, EFF, DA, UDM, IFP and other political formations all want Zuma to resign. The churches, business organisations and civic organisations all want Zuma to go. Since the first democratic elections in 1994, the public has never been so united against one individual political leader, as they are against Zuma.
It is important to be honest here. ANC members must acknowledge that Zuma is a creation of the electoral system designed by ANC leaders in their negotiations with the outgoing apartheid regime and placed in the Interim Constitution in 1993.
What they created was an electoral law that centralises power in the hands of the party headquarters, an electoral law that disempowers the population and turns them into spectators in the running of their own country. This electoral law is a relic from the ANC underground era, the era of close relationship between ANC and SACP together with the now defunct Soviet Union and former Eastern European socialist countries – the era of democratic centralism in ANC operations. It was designed for the conditions of military struggle against the forces of the apartheid state, but it has proved unsuitable and very destructive for the conditions of parliamentary government.
This is an electoral system that has outlived its day. The ANC has survived throughout its history by adaptation to new conditions, and it needs urgently to adapt again now – for ANC’s own survival, and the urgent need of the nation.
Before the ANC was banned in 1960 and later assumed political power in 1994, there was no need to rig elections. It was life threatening and risky to be an ANC leader, so it was not lucrative to hold office because you could be killed by security police or locked up on Robben Island for life. Elections under Chief Albert Luthuli were relatively peaceful; there were no threats of assassinations in KZN or Mpumalanga, and no flying chairs in ANC elective conferences.
Internal elections under Mbeki and Zuma became a life and death issue, with factional cadres fighting for access to state resources, leading to a conflagration of corruption. We had the Arms Deal under the watch of President Thabo Mbeki, which led to Tony Yengeni losing the plum job of ANC Chief Whip in parliament, and going to jail. We had the departure of Andrew Feinstein, an MP of integrity who was squeezed out of Parliament for demanding accountability from Mbeki’s cabinet. We had the police commissioner Jackie Selebi controlled by Glen Agliotti, the suspected gangster drug lord who had close relations with President Mbeki.
Then came the Zuma era and scandal after scandal.
The massacre of mine workers at Marikana under his watch, the Nkandla compound saga at his rural homestead – thanks to the EFF, he has paid for it. Then the state capture report by former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, which recommended that the President should assign to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng the task of instituting a commission of inquiry. Then the revelations of the emails between the Guptas and Zuma’s family, implicating ministers such as Malusi Gigaba, the former public enterprise minister turned finance minister, who transferred Brian Molefe as Eskom boss to ANC MP and then back to Eskom, before he was axed as CEO, as well as Anoj Singh (Eskom’s now suspended financial chief) and other parastatal board members, to help him loot the public services – Gigaba, who as minister of home affairs gave citizenship to Gupta family members before the minimum five years required by law.
Before the direct capture of Eskom and other sources of loot, Zuma made sure that the investigatory arm of the state was directly in his hands. He has captured NPA under Shaun Abrahams and it is presently dead silent. The Hawks’ new acting chief, General Yolisa Matakata, has not interviewed anybody in connection with Gupta email saga despite the glaring evidence against ministers such as Mosebenzi Zwane (minerals and energy minister), Des Van Rooyen (Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister) and the industrious Gigaba – the epitome of State Capture. The Hawks are waiting for the FBI, Scotland Yard and other international investigative organisations to provide them with information while information is in front of their eyes.
Even by Zuma’s already well known standards of integrity, the worst has to be the shocking news from Jacques Pauw’s new book, The President’s Keepers, that he did not pay tax for the first five years of his tenure as President.
Proof that ANC deployment has been a colossal failure is shown by the fact that it deployed as Gauteng MEC an individual such as Qedani Mahlangu, who is responsible for the deaths of 141 Esidemeni mentally handicapped patients. There is, Gigaba responsible for destroying the parastatals such as Transnet, Eskom and PetroSA by appointing shabby directors to loot the coffers. We have Faith Mutambi, the former communication minister who worked closely with the Gupta-owned media vehicles ANN7 and New Age, and who protected Hlaudi Motsoeneng to destroy the SABC. You can add Dudu Miyeni, who bankrupted SAA, and Bathabile Dlamini, president of the ANC Women’s League and minister of Social Welfare, who is doing everything to defy Parliament. The list is endless.
We are in shame. The campaign for removing Zuma from office directly affects the ANC. Zuma represents the ANC at this time, the worst time in its history, and all his scandals are taken as ANC scandals.
There is no point finger-pointing at Zuma unless the ANC acknowledges its own responsibility, and takes action to make sure it will not happen again. This requires discussion and debate, and accurate analysis of how exactly this catastrophe could happen.
No-one can deny that democratic centralism, as practiced by both ANC and SACP, facilitates easy state capture. When the President is captured, he cascades the capture down the structures instructing them to follow him in a disciplined way as he plunders the country. The president or general secretary demands discipline from his subordinates to follow orders. This was all that was needed for the country to be delivered to the Guptas. With ANC MPs as the deployees of Luthuli House, the legislature is then powerless to stop the rot.
ANC deployed a President who was captured by the Guptas. The NEC, as the body running ANC between conferences, is also partially captured and paralysed. Through the current internal electoral laws as tabulated in Rule 9 of the ANC constitution, ANC branch members have deployed a slate of kleptomaniacs with no grain of integrity.
Hence the recommendation that in future, the entire ANC membership should elect trustworthy leaders by directly voting for all office bearers. This will ensure that we choose credible leaders of integrity, who can be trusted with our taxpayers’ money. At present there is something fundamentally wrong with our deployment committee. It is supposed to adhere to the policy document, Through the Eye of the Needle, but everyone can see that none of the above deployments meet the criteria.
At the same time, we need an electoral law that makes MPs accountable to voters in constituencies, instead of the present anonymous party list system that gives all power over MPs to party HQs.
There is a time for action in emergency to save the patient. That time is now for the ANC. DM
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