Opinionista Omry Makgoale 15 June 2018

ANC must scrap branch delegate format for elective conferences

There is no hope of cleansing the party under the current internal electoral laws.

Fighting fire without establishing the cause of it is a waste of time and effort, with no hope of putting out the fire.

In every democratic country, political parties struggle to win elections or to get into state and government offices. In undemocratic countries this is through military means, but in modern, civilised countries this is done through free and fair elections.

True, the art of rigging elections is as old as elections themselves. This means that to avoid military takeover of power, election methods have to be seen and accepted as free, fair and democratic to all citizens. In the case of internal political party elections, they must be seen to be free and fair to all party members – in the case of ANC, to all ANC members.

In South Africa and in the ANC in particular, the internal electoral methods that have lasted since 1994 are no longer credible. They are outdated and bordering on obsolete. These electoral methods were suitable when the ANC was still underground and in the transition to the new democratic dispensation, but they are not suitable for a mass political party of today.

These internal electoral methods based on Clause 9 of the ANC constitution are no longer suitable for a modern day mass political party.

The branch delegate method in which every branch chooses a minimum of one (1) delegate to represent 50 members at the ANC national elective conference is undemocratic, replacing white minority rule under apartheid with black minority rule under ANC colours.

In a nutshell, we have replaced white minority rule with black minority rule and we appear content with that.

What a shame for the once mighty ANC. What a disgrace that we have replaced apartheid dictatorship with the unaccountable rule of bribers, gate keepers and the killers of political rivals for office.

This is our problem, and we must face it honestly or suffer for our own failures. It cannot be right that we hypocritically claimed to be fighting for majority rule in the past but we live under black minority rule presently.

Steve Biko was not wrong when he said in the Policy Manifesto of the South African Students Organisation (Saso) that black people need to liberate themselves “first from psychological oppression of themselves through inferiority complex”.

Surely it is a sign of inferiority complex that blacks in SA still have not yet got the rights the whites had under apartheid – above all, the right to elect our own MPs directly to Parliament, and get rid of them by name. This is why we do not know our members of parliament for areas and locations, only the ANC secretary-general can give you the answer.

ANC members vote for the party and hope that the list compiled by Luthuli House will be credible but from past experience the list from Luthuli House can deliver some of the worst to have donned the ANC colours.

The most shameful has to be when we handed over power to choose government ministers and the directors of parastatals to a neo-colonialist band of brothers from another country, the Guptas. That has to be the worst chapter in the annals of ANC history. It was self-imposed colonisation.

We have degraded ourselves, and only we can fix it. This was inferiority complex plus, plus, plus.

Luthuli House appoints MPs from whom the government ministers are appointed, and they in turn appoint directors of parastatals and the municipal managers who have corrupted nearly all municipalities according to the recent Auditor General’s report.

Municipalities have become fertile ground for looting sprees, with no invoices and no receipts for money spent and no accountability. Recently in KZN when the auditors requested invoices and receipts, they were shown pistols and the auditor’s office had to withdraw them. Until their security could be guaranteed they could not do their job, on behalf of us, the public. It is a rule by gangsters when asking for an invoice can lead you to be shot and killed.

There is no hope of cleansing the ANC under the current internal electoral laws. Maybe the ANC has to lose power before it can recover its moral integrity, as the deputy president and former secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe once indicated.

ANC leadership is currently fighting the fires of discontent in nearly all the provinces. In the Free State the recently held elective conference will be challenged in court in the near future, with the current slate – placed with the blessings of the former premier Ace Magashule – being challenged.
(We remember how the Magashule slate in Free State was disallowed by the Constitutional Court in December 2012).

In North West we still do not have a premier satisfying the interests of both the question, why are ANC members in North West not allowed to elect their premier on the basis of one ANC member, one vote? This is obviously the most democratic way of electing provincial leaders, cutting across slates and factions and gate-keepers.

In the cauldron of KwaZulu-Natal it is worse, where ANC members are killing one another as they fight for office to access resources. There, the elective conference was stopped by court order after Moses Mabhida and Harry Gwala regions successfully challenged the legitimacy of the conference in court.

The fact is, under the current format of branch elections for delegates to attend elective conferences there is no way of stopping or preventing gate- keeping, slates and factions which lead to the killing of ANC members by other ANC members.

This is in the province of John Langalibalele Dube, Josiah Gumede, Moses Mabhida and Chief Albert Luthuli, where they must be turning in their graves to witness the blood of their children and grandchildren flowing in the streets – all because of fighting for power and corruption.

Political power is fought for everywhere in the world, but it has to be under a civilised and democratic electoral system. When you lose elections you must accept the loss and try again next time.

In our case right now, when elections are blatantly rigged it would be unreasonable to expect the losers to be content. Violence follows, and will continue to follow if the system is not changed.

But if all ANC members in KZN have the right to elect their leaders on the basis of one ANC member, one ote, the provincial leadership will be screened by the members themselves. You will have a truly unity leadership.

The solution is clear. We need more democracy, to save lives.

Scrap the undemocratic branch delegate format of the elective conferences and adopt one ANC member, one vote for electing provincial and national leadership. DM

Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC

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