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The ANC’s ‘step-aside’ rule: The glass is either...

Defend Truth


The ANC’s ‘step-aside’ rule: The glass is either half-full or half-empty


Mondli Gungubele is a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee and former Deputy Minister of Finance. He writes in his personal capacity.

By enforcing the step-aside rule, cadres of the movement are ensuring that we embed a culture of revolutionary morality in how the ANC carries itself and is ultimately viewed. Such action will eventually shape overall South African attitudes and behaviour in regard to what is considered wrongs, rights and societal imperatives.

The much spoken about “step aside” in the ANC is exposing glass-half-empty against glass-half-full mindsets. Interestingly, the half-empty tendencies seem to have found expression within and outside the ruling party’s corridors, including what is now known as “RET forces” as well as among the media.

Half-empties see the “step-aside” intervention as a signpost of slaughter, decimation and obliterations of any and all in the ANC who are fingered for wrongdoing and consequently not liked much. We could debate if such persons are deserving of such dislikes. More so since some try to misrepresent ANC resolutions. They opportunistically nitpick and attempt to spin ANC conference resolutions related to self-cleansing and step aside.

To be precise, they romanticise about the phrasing of the ANC 54th conference resolutions on step aside, but yet ignore what is termed “Guidelines and Procedures: Implementation of National Conference Resolutions on ANC Credibility and Integrity”. A mouthful for a title. But probably appropriately so as it gives a detailed and accurate description of how the ANC leadership arrived at the step-aside position.

It explains in basic point form the journey travelled that led to the NEC decision on step aside as it wove between the 54th conference and other forums like the preceding National General Council resolutions – which resolutions were also adopted as part of the 54th National Conference of the ANC decisions.

But that is straying a bit from the topic. Point is, some who comprise half-empties made it to the list of those required to “step aside” and they see themselves as the unwilling heading towards the gallows of political slaughter.

Points of view not much spoken of are those of the half-fullers. This is probably because their narrative is premised on the positive. It is concerned with the ANC’s renewal and the promotion of an improved culture of accountability and consequence as a South African way of life. You know, the type of stuff that doesn’t make for easy media headlines and stories. And that is probably because of the coined expression in the media which dictates that “if it bleeds, it leads”.

In brief, the half-fullers’ line of thought can be summarised in two sets.

One is that a cadre – which is what every ANC member claims to be – does not have to be pressured into doing what will strengthen their movement. They understand the importance of ensuring their organisation stays focused on fulfilling radical socioeconomic transformation imperatives instead of deliberating on personal interests. Recent recorded leakages of ANC leadership meetings being a case in point where critical questions about moving South Africa forward seemed to have taken a back seat. All because of resistance to activate action that will assist a process aimed at addressing what the ANC calls “sins of incumbency” – which is malfeasance that has arisen due to personal choices.

The other line of thought that can be attributed to half-fullers is that by enforcing stepping aside – whether through voluntary action or organisational dictates – cadres of the movement are ensuring that we embed a culture of revolutionary morality in how the ANC carries itself and is ultimately viewed. And considering the ANC’s influence on society, such action will eventually shape the overall South African attitude and behaviour in regard to what are considered wrongs, rights and societal imperatives.

The 54th National Conference of the ANC resolutions make the point that “since the Port Elizabeth National General Council in 2000, the matter of organisational renewal has occupied our deliberations in the context of the ANC as an Agent of Change”. That makes for more than 10 years of important talk with no meaningful visible action. In fact, the said resolutions put it aptly by stating that “the ANC faces a major challenge, not of diagnosis and responses, but of implementation”.

Particularly important is the realisation that the renewal effort is not just for the ANC’s sake. But it is to redirect the organisation to its original purpose as a key driver of the South African transformation programme. It was the ANC’s 53rd national conference that explained that “renewal is principally 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 serve and lead the people”.

An issue of particular interest when looking at timelines is how the concerns of renewal have found expression in the ANC and subsequently evolved to this day. The tendency of half-empties is to spin and make the ANC renewal seem like a newly discovered invention of the current incumbent president. But that is just not backed up by fact.

But such are the times in which South Africa’s ruling party finds itself. It can either succumb to pressures of the glass-half-empties who spin negativity and even play tricks and dumbness about the evolution and meaning of ANC resolutions and how the organisation’s decision-making processes work between conferences. All in the name of resisting the organisation’s renewal and a clean-up the electorate yearns for in the ANC, as firmly confirmed by declining numbers at the polls.

Or it can remain on course about injecting positivity in problem-solving. Not pretending there will not be any pain suffered, but appreciating that doing so is not personal or based on malice. Rather, it is but a story of a 27-year-old democracy that has learnt and wishes to turn such lessons into meaningful benefits.

This, in essence, is what the glass-half-fulls are about. DM


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All Comments 4

  • There is no half empty or full. The ANC is headed for the gallows. Some want a future in politics and others don’t give a toss about the future because making money will secure them and their families future. All their conference resolutions are just hot air for survival and voter BS.

  • Too much waffle. The problem lies in the concepts of ‘revolutionary morality’ and ‘cadre’. Cadre refers to ‘a cell of indoctrinated leaders active in promoting the interests of a revolutionary party’. If you are indoctrinated you cannot be an openminded thinker, hence morality becomes meaningless.

  • During the week, one (at least) ANC structure commented that the step-aside rule cannot be implemented because it would decimate the party.

    I wonder if they actually read their own words and think about what it implies?!

    We can’t get rid of the corrupt because most of us are corrupt?!

    • Exactly. Corrupt politicians will not voluntarily step aside, it is not in their nature. And the ANC is not about pushing their cadres out. So here we are, and will remain.

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