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Did the ANC get the memo?

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Opinionista

Did the ANC get the memo?

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Dr Marius Oosthuizen is a scenarios planner and the director for leadership and dialogue at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, GIBS. He writes in his personal capacity.

I remember walking up Government Avenue to the Union Buildings during the Zuma Must Fall march. There were thousands of South Africans of every race, colour and age side by side, and we had one thing in common – we were sick of corruption.

Since the Zuma Must Fall March in 2017, the Zondo commission has proven what we already knew – that former president Jacob Zuma and his cronies had stolen from our state, enriched themselves at the expense of the people and weakened almost every state institution. National Treasury was the last to come under attack. Blackouts and ballooning debt at Eskom, SAA and Transnet were the unavoidable result.

So here we are with a newly elected President, and we are staring at the Union Buildings once again, wondering when Luthuli House will stop wrangling so that we can get a new Cabinet to take the lead and fix the country. Does the ANC never learn? Did they even get the memo?

South Africans are sick and tired of being taken for granted. The same cronies who surrounded president Jacob Zuma, propping him up in Parliament as he enabled the looters, have now dug themselves in at Luthuli House and are conducting an internal ground-war against the few remaining clean cadres in the party who pulled the country back from the brink of collapse.

The obvious onslaught against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, for one, is nothing more than a counter-offensive by the axis of corruption, Ace Magashule and the bittereinders of the Zuma era. It is not in the interests of the country.

These self-seeking ANC members are hijacking the President’s programme of reform and testing the patience of civil society once again. Instead of allowing the duly and democratically elected president to begin rebuilding the country, they have wrestled him into yet another internal ANC factional battle. Enough is enough.

At the heart of the fight is the pretence that the policies of “expropriation of land without compensation” and the “nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank” were their idea and that these are workable ideas to start with.

The fact is, they were the irresponsible populist wild cards played at the end of the last ANC elective conference to try and prevent Ramaphosa from ascending to the presidency of the ANC, and thereby, the country. They failed, but now their poisoned chalice hangs like an albatross around the President’s neck.

The Zuma faction was never for free education or land reform or the like. These were last-minute hoaxes to regain street-cred after being shown for what they were, hijackers of the state. If it wasn’t for Deputy President DD Mabuza’s Mpumalanga swing-vote, that caught them off guard at Nasrec, the cancerous cabal would have stolen the ANC in its entirety and the country would have been on an even more slippery slope.

Unfortunately for South Africans, some of these bad apples have stayed behind in the top structures of the ANC. Under the guise of “party unity”, the patchwork ANC of today is a yin and yang of good governance crusaders and bad-faith actors.

Some of them have everything to lose – their choices are power and populism, or jail.

In the meantime, while the President picks a Cabinet from the ruins left in Luthuli House, the country waits. Investors wait. Growth waits. Jobs wait. Worst of all, the poor wait. Our future deferred another day.

But we will not wait forever. The ANC must understand that the electorate, the media, the faith communities and the people as a whole, having given the party this last chance to redeem themselves, will not wait forever. We are hoping they will live up to Mandela’s legacy, and repent of Zuma’s legacy. We are waiting for them to put the country first as they finally did when the recalled president Zuma. By then the damage was done.

If they fail to serve the interests of the country now, we will again take recourse to the courts, the streets and ultimately, the ballot. The message of South Africans to the ANC NEC is clear: sideline and silence the architects of subversion in your ranks, and serve the country. DM

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