This week marks 26 years since the death of ANC struggle icon Chris Hani, who famously admitted:
“What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists, who drive around in Mercedes Benzes and use the resources of this country… to live in palaces and to gather riches.”
This is one of the reasons I wanted to be involved in the political process in our country. Implicit in Hani’s quote is a reminder of what goes wrong when people who are threatened with losing power resort to violence as a means to shore it up.
Hani’s fears came true. The violent ANC-orchestrated protests in the DA-run metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Cape Town just weeks before the election stem from the ANC’s failure to transition from liberation movement to effective governing party.
Liberation movements believe in democracy, but they don’t become democrats. They don’t tolerate the concepts of losing power or having their viewpoints opposed. People who are not democrats cannot build democracy.
Almost from the get-go, the ANC went the way of liberation movements across Africa, becoming a patronage-based organisation that abuses state resources to enrich a connected elite and stay in power.
Stuck in fighting mode, unable to deliver to the masses and no longer a popular mass movement, the ANC is now trying to keep the struggle alive by stoking fear and violence in the areas in which it feels most threatened.
The party knows how to fight. But it has never developed the capacity to govern effectively and it has never developed a democratic culture, with the result that it has failed rather dismally to evolve into an effective governing party able to deliver on its mandate.
Instead of delivering to all, they yielded to the temptation of enriching themselves, becoming Hani’s “elitists, who… use the resources of this country… to gather riches.” This started very early on, with the Arms Deal in 1999.
Instead of emerging as a group of confident individuals open to learning from and working with other people and willing to engage in open debate and to recognise and call out each other’s mistakes, they turned inward, laagering themselves against the threat of criticism and opposition.
They developed an obsession with party loyalty and a culture of impunity in which it became anathema to speak out against anyone in the party or to admit any wrongdoing. They are simply unable to correct each other.
Hence, we had Cyril Ramaphosa saying of Nkandla in 2014:
“There was no corruption, nothing to do with Nkandla was unlawful. The ‘fire pool’ is not even as big as an Olympic swimming pool.”
Of Zuma, he said:
“We are saying that the integrity of the president remains intact and that this president has the ability and know-how to lead our government and South Africa going forward.”
In 2018, he said:
“Bathabile Dlamini is the Minister of Women and she is doing a fantastic job and has raised the bar.”
These are not democrats engaged in the battle of ideas, but comrades engaged in a battle for resources. Opposition parties are viewed as the enemy in a winner-takes-all war rather than as opponents in an ongoing contest for who can best deliver on the Constitution’s promise.
They fear loss of support at the ballot box because they know they lack the capacity to regroup, survive in opposition, and regain support in a future election.
The ANC lost Cape Town in 2006 to a seven-party coalition. They have failed dismally in opposition there because they never fully evolved into a political party in the first place.
The ANC is no different from other liberation movements in these respects. They’re on the same path already well-trodden by Mugabe/Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe. It’s the same movie with different actors. Cue EWC to compensate for a failed land-reform process.
In brotherhood, the ANC sides with despots who have killed people in their countries, offering protection and endorsement. They side with Russia and Venezuela at the UN Security Council. In 2015, they broke the law to protect genocidaire Al-Bashir.
Ramaphosa treats Mnangagwa as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe, rather than as a fraud who stole the Zimbabwe presidency in a rigged election. We saw no outrage when ZANU-PF turned its guns on people after the 2018 election. The ANC government too, has turned its guns on people, at Marikana.
Like these dictators, the ANC feels no affinity for the notion of spending time in opposition, because they inherently believe they “own” the country they liberated, hence their easy conflation of party and state.
They genuinely believe they have the right to rule “till Jesus comes”. In July 2016, Lindiwe Sisulu revealed this thinking when she said of Nelson Mandela Bay metro:
“This place has Nelson Mandela’s name. And we will never give it to anyone else while we are still alive. The ANC shall rule, forever.”
This reveals their true relationship with democracy. They adhere to it in the ceremonial sense of going through the motions of holding elections, but they don’t actually believe in it. So the opposition is the enemy, rather than opponents in a fair contestation for which party can best deliver on the Constitution’s mandate.
From the get-go, their mission was to rule South Africa forever, adopting the formal policy of cadre deployment in 1997, the aim of which was to appoint loyal cadres to all the levers of power in the state — even those meant to check and balance power, such as the NPA and Public Protector.
They see any losses in the democratic space as being not just counter-revolutionary, but also as a betrayal of the struggle. Anyone who opposes them must be destabilised. So they see no problem with inciting communities to violence. They want people to believe they must fight in the streets, rather than at the ballot box.
Hence, we see the banning of DA adverts, the destruction of books, the threat of necklacing, the playing of the race card, the attacking of the media, and the incitement to violence in areas where their support is most threatened. These have no place in a democracy. But they keep the struggle alive in people’s minds, fuelling the need to be liberated by the glorious movement.
The ANC has orchestrated these protests in DA-run cities to discredit the opposition and render the cities ungovernable. There is ample evidence to back this claim, from fake Twitter accounts linked to Fikile Mbalula’s account to ANC ward councillors as organisers, from amplification by the ANC’s top leaders, to the busing in of ANC activists.
Cyril Ramaphosa is fully on board with this strategy, arriving in Alex along with busloads of ANC activists to address the aggrieved community in full ANC colours, and laying the blame at Mashaba’s feet, exploiting people’s confusion around the different spheres of government.
Education, health, policing, housing, land reform, home affairs, bulk infrastructure are all national or provincial mandates. The ANC has been in national and provincial government there for 25 years and was in local government in Johannesburg for 23 years. Alex still has ANC ward councillors. Blaming Mashaba is dishonest and deceitful.
In the two-and-a-half years of DA-led coalition government, the following projects have been undertaken in Alex:
The opening of two new clinics in Alexandra (Rover Park and Thoko Nongoma) with a third to be opened in the coming weeks;
The electrification of 686 stands in informal settlements;
R80-million being spent in the 2018/19 financial year by Joburg Water on replacing water and sewerage pipes in Alexandra;
R60-million being spent over three years to complete the new Banakekelen Hospice and Clinic in Alexandra;
R20-million in 2018/19 which will begin the construction of the Alexandra Sports and Youth Development Safe Hub;
The construction of the Joe Nhlanhla pedestrian bridge in the 2018/19 financial year;
The completion of the Alexandra Automotive Hub in 2018/19 as a job-creation initiative in Alexandra;
The Alexandra Opportunity Centre will open in 2018/19 providing support to SMMEs in Alexandra;
The completion of Jukskei Water Management Plan to protect people and property close to the Jukskei River in times of flooding;
The installation of 100 new public lights in Alexandra; and
R20-million to be spent in 2018/19 on improvement of the Helen Joseph Hostel in Alexandra.
Fortunately, this campaign has backfired on the ANC, reminding people of broken promises made to the people of Alexandra over the years. In 2001, R1.3-billion was set aside for the Alexander Renewal Project with little to show for it. More recently, in June 2016, the ANC national government signed an agreement with the residents of Alex to provide land and housing, but withdrew its funding when they lost Johannesburg two months later.
Rather than engaging on the facts, Ramaphosa has chosen to obfuscate and confuse people. His expression of shock that people in Alex are living in filth is an implicit lie. He’s lived in Sandton for much of his life; he’s been to Alex countless times.
But he acts like an alien who just landed from Mars and is suddenly discovering problems such as poverty, State Capture and Eskom. He wants people to believe his is a new ANC that can save them from the old ANC.
Yet he will not fix our problems now, just as he couldn’t fix Eskom when he was tasked to do so in 2015, despite his promise then that:
“We are going to see some good things coming out of Eskom, that I promise you.”
South Africa is fast becoming a failed state. We cannot afford another five years of ANC corruption, patronage, crazy economic mismanagement and centralised command of our energy system. South Africans urgently need to see the ANC for what it is — a criminal syndicate in democratic drag with a charming, yet deceitful president.
Chris Hani was a courageous fighter, authentically committed to the real cause of freedom for all. South Africans must show courage now and make a clean break with the past. This is not about any one political party or any one person. It is about all of us coming together around our commitment to building a real constitutional democracy with a market-driven economy and a capable state that can deliver to all.
We urgently need to reform our politics, so that we use the ballot box to express our values, not our racial identities. We need to reform our economy so that it includes millions more people. And we need to reform our government model from one that is patronage-driven to one that delivers for all — 8 May 2019 is a crucial opportunity.
We must not succumb to the ANC’s world view of single-liberating-party hegemony forever. Otherwise, violence will become a permanent feature of our society. We can usher in a post-liberation era in May 2019. While the ANC fights for patronage on the streets, we must fight for freedom at the ballot box. DM