When I first read the article Duarte’s assertion reminded me of that of Young Hegelians in the 1800s who attributed every problem Germany was faced with as an ideological problem and considered ideas to be the solutions to those problems. Contrary to this, Karl Marx, in the German Ideology in 1932 argued that ideology was merely a way in which idealists manipulated reality. Similar to Marx, I felt as though Comrade Jessie Duarte – who was part of the governing party leadership the ANC – was deliberately deviating from the real challenges of governance that the ANC is faced with by using ideology as a scapegoat. By asserting that the most pressing organizational challenges faced by the ANC are its members lack of political education rather than the issue of corruption and state capture, Duarte was painting a manipulated picture of reality. And as I further read her article I thought of Amilcar Cabral’s speech titled Tell no lies, Claim no easy victories… in 1969 when he contends:
“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.”
But I understood that Marx and Cabral were not systematic in their writing and that Marx and Cabral were writing in their context and living conditions of their time. Today, in 2018 we are faced with different challenges to those of the 1800s and 1960s, furthermore, South Africa’s political peculiarities provide unique challenges to local political parties. I have to acknowledge that one of the challenges of the contemporary South African political landscape is the lack of robust debate and lack of tolerance towards one another’s ideas, and that political education can help the leaders of our society work towards deeply understanding the world we live in. It can be argued that political education will promote good governance by producing ethical leadership that it is not obsessed with crass-materialism but is passionate in serving its people with dignity and patriotism.
The great benefit of being the graduate from social sciences such as sociology and political studies is that one taught that to critique does not mean to pick at only the flaws but it is also to complement, supplement and close the gaps in the work you are analysing. Hence, I will be writing to supplement, complement and close the gaps in comrade Jessie Duarte’s contentions.
Comrade Jessie Duarte is correct to say that most of the obstacles faced by the ANC today and society at large have arisen because the ANC members and deployed cadres have not undergone a thorough political education programme. Currently, the ANC is in the process of the formulating the parliament list for those can be potentially deployed to parliament provincially and nationally. In this process for selecting parliamentary representatives, there is no ideological or political vetting of the members wanting to serve in South African in parliament, except for delegates from branches choosing and rejecting the names.
Last week, from 8 to 9 December 2018, Dr David Masondo, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and principal of the ANC OR Tambo School of Leadership organised political education training of the trainers, following the ANC 54th ANC National Conference resolution to establish the OR Tambo School of Leadership in order to build the ideological and organisational base for the ANC-led democratic movement. The school sets forth to equip the ANC leadership and members with the revolutionary tools to analyse society and be able to tackle challenges confronting communities such as the resurgence of tribalism, racism, and inequalities.
Former Robben Island prisoner Gorge Mashamba, whilst addressing trainees in the OR Tambo School of Leadership he was critical of the list process and argued that ANC members who ought to represent people in parliament are supposed to undergo an interview for assessment, because it is not correct to deploy a person to parliament who cannot even read at least more than one book a year and who cannot even put together a presentation or participate in structured debate.
The resolution to establish OR Tambo School of Leadership by the ANC was a great step toward dealing with some of the most fundamental amongst the challenges confronting the ANC. However, in the opening address by Comrade David Masondo clearly highlighted that the OR Tambo School of Leadership meant to empower the members of the ANC with the political education, understanding of the political economy, revolutionary theories in order to defend the revolution envisaged in the National Democratic Revolution and that the programme will enhance the translation and interpretation of the ANC values and principles in the communities.
Surely for the ANC to remain in governance it needs to be constantly innovative, modernised and be able to resolve complex challenges of the modern society. Our society is constantly changing and we as political actors are faced with new material challenges and those challenges need ideas, old and new, to resolve them. For example, the ANC had to fight against the Apartheid regime in order to secure the right to vote, end racist laws and achieve economic equity through the redistribution of the land and mineral resources. Today the ANC must fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment as the governing party steering the state, the ANC OR Tambo School of Leadership it is part and parcel of dealing with these issues. Notably, the 1969 ANC Strategic and Tactics contends that the ANC armed struggle was embarked on to liberate the South Africans from the Apartheid system and economic marginalisation and formulate the society according to the Freedom Charter provisions. Furthermore, the S & T 1969 expressed that armed with Freedom Charter and general understanding of revolutionary theory will provide ANC with the strategic framework for concrete elaboration and implementation of policy in a continuously changing situation. In this regard, the OR Tambo School of Leadership is a direct manifestation of the 1912 ANC’s strategy and tactics.
In addition, the ANC 1969 S&T articulates that the ANC’s revolutionary theory – the Freedom Charter is combined with a more “intensive programme of research,” examination and analysis of the conditions of a distinctive state of South African, their local grievances, hopes and aspirations so that it can accurately apply theory. Surely, the OR Tambo School of Leadership will equip the ANC leaders and members with skills and analytical tools to read and understand the society and put to the fore applicable solutions. The dictum is that our government has the best policies but the problem is the implementation of policies. The OR Tambo School of leadership will assist ANC members and leaders to understand our society and develop appropriate policies with an aim that policies they have developed will be applicable and adaptable.
South Africa is faced with structural challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty. And in response to these challenges, ANC needs leaders who understand the ANC resolutions and revolutionary political programmes such as Freedom Charter and NDR. The ANC’s 54th national conference on the organisational renewal emphasise that:
“…about building the ANC’s resilience, enhancing its transformative and governance capacity and its ability to adapt to changing situations so that it can continue to organise and lead the people.”
Constructing the ANC’s ability to adapt to the constant changes of the society needs to develop the cadre – ideological and political. In that way, the ANC will develop ethical leaders to serve the people and advance the revolution of transforming the economy. It cannot be correct that 24 years into democracy, South Africa remains a country with the highest income inequality in the world – it cannot be correct that top 10% of the full-time employees earn on average, 82 times more than the bottom 90% of the workers and that white workers, on average, earn three times more than black workers. This shows that the ANC needs to develop cadres that can best understand and implement its policies. Here, the ANC through OR Tambo School of Leadership has the capacity to build cadres that will understand ANC policies – build research capacity at all levels and developing a reserve of skills and expertise to transform the state to serve people at best.
In terms of the organisational renewal, the ANC political education has to equip the ANC members with the tool of analysis of understanding how and when the ANC evolves. Political education will provide the ANC members and leaders with context to determine the magnitude and importance of present-day transformation in the economy, gender, demographic patterns and international relations. The political education will aid in building strong democratic liberation movement. The ANC remains one of the political organisations with a strong internal participatory democratic system, for instance during the process of selecting parliament representation next year – the ANC allow branches to nominate and elect their representative to parliament.
In addition, part of renewing the ANC needs to be building intellectuals who will be conscious in defending the ANC against attacks. It is important to note that being a member of the working class, poor or oppressed does not give one the consciousness to fight against the oppressive system. Therefore, for the working class, the poor and oppressed to become a revolutionary force, it requires intellectuals to analyse and elaborate social, political and economic phenomena in common sense. Such elaborations happen through political education whereby the working class and collectives of intellectuals will have dialogue, reading clubs and lectures. This will be also exchanging to the experiences between the working class and intellectuals to formulate a concrete plan of action fight against oppressions such as corruption, poverty, inequality and unemployment.
According to the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution, the subjects of the revolution are motive forces which are working class in nature. Joe Slovo in 1988 affirmed the notion that the working class must be the leader of the National Democratic Revolution – which advances for the national liberation and self-determination as the first phase and the second phase characterised as the fight for socialism. Surely, the working class needs political education to boost their political consciousness in order to fight for economic emancipation. It was American Sociologist Michel Burawoy in his study of the Copper belt in Zambia argued that the working class is naturally and intuitively conscious of its oppression. The working class which is the motive forces which are supposed to be the wedge drivers of the ANC and National Democratic Revolution need political education. In this regards, the ANC the OR Tambo School of Leadership seeks to give ideological and political education that will create the organic intellectualism to defend the ANC from corruption, state capture and culture of leadership that will serve the people of South Africa with ethical leadership and expertise.
Former revolutionary President of Burkina Faso Thomas Sankara warned us by asserting that: “A soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.” Therefore, the ANC is averting criminality and corruption by establishing the OR Tambo School of Leadership to train ANC members and leaders politically and ideologically in order to defend the national democratic revolution. This school will address the problem that Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Jessie Duarte raised that there is a need for robust political education in the ANC. This will ultimately equip comrades deployed in government to understand the society and reconnect with the people of South Africa. DM