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The ANC was our shining light that turned into a force of darkness, cholera and rolling blackouts

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Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.

What went wrong with the party of Dr AB Xuma, the party of Chief Albert Luthuli, the party of OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela?

The African National Congress has been the source of light for black South Africans since 1912, and spread its light throughout Africa as the oldest political party on the continent. It has been a source of hope and optimism. Our national anthem has been adopted in Tanzania, Zambia and other countries in southern Africa.

We saw South Africa being freed from apartheid colonial rule, with the hope of future prosperity. We believed South Africa under the ANC would be a beacon of wisdom.

But nobody could have imagined or anticipated the outright corruption and disintegration of the economic infrastructure, water treatment systems in disrepair with raw sewage flowing in the streets and into rivers, and worse still: no lights at night but endless darkness.     

With rolling blackouts at stage 2, stage 4, and then stage 6, are we approaching stage 8 in complete darkness? Anything is possible under the most corrupt and incompetent ANC leadership in a century.

In the ANC in exile, we saw the mistakes made by the Tanzanian government under its Ujamaa policies, with ideal and good policies, but poor implementation; we saw the mistakes of the Zambians under their humanist policies, ideal but with poor implementation; Mozambique under Frelimo, with a Maoist type of Marxist ideology; Zimbabwe under Zanu-PF, as a tribalist dictatorship.

We promised ourselves as the ANC not to repeat their mistakes, but alas! That was a pipe dream. We inherited the strongest, most sophisticated economy and infrastructure on the African continent, but South Africa appears worse today under the ANC than we could have imagined.

The ANC had no experience of running a modern state. South Africans could still have run the state successfully if they were allowed by the ANC government to do so.

Unfortunately, the most competent South Africans were not classified as cadres by those in charge and they were not appointed appropriately to the suitable posts. The ANC had a policy of taking over the running of state institutions through its own political cadres, but without the necessary skills and competence to do so.

Instead, all the state institutions we inherited from the National Party have been destroyed. I refer to Eskom, Transnet, Prasa, Denel, PetroSA, the Post Office etc, all being destroyed by ANC cadres.

The party of light for over a century, the ANC has now become a party of darkness and rolling blackouts, a party of cholera with raw sewage flowing in the streets, into our rivers and into our lives.

What went wrong with the party of Dr AB Xuma, the party of Chief Albert Luthuli, the party of OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela that has gone from being a shining light on the continent, to a party of darkness, filth and rolling blackouts?

Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, is at the top of the pyramid overseeing the destruction of infrastructure of water treatment plants, with tankers replacing pipes to bring water to the communities while wastewater treatment plants are left unattended.

In Eskom, coal cartels have fed power stations with rocks instead of coal damaging the boilers, resulting in continuous rolling blackouts. This is the result of coal cartels being run by corrupt political appointees instead of through the competence of qualified engineers.

André de Ruyter’’s book should be read by all members of Parliament to appreciate the monstrosity of corruption inside Eskom. All this is happening under the ANC’s watch.

Are there still leaders of integrity inside the ANC?

Instead of being a party of reform striving to empower the citizens of South Africa, it has changed into being a party of retardation, regression and refusal of reforms.

The New Nation Movement had to take the ANC government to court to force it to introduce independent members of Parliament. ANC members of Parliament — all appointed by its National Executive Committee and not one of them chosen by voters — have refused to enact genuine reform of the country’s parliamentary electoral laws since the time that former president Thabo Mbeki rejected the majority recommendations of Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert’s Electoral Task Team in 2003. 

The ANC had to be dragged to the courts to introduce the reforms allowing individual candidates to stand for election.

It is now three years since June 2020 when the New Nation Movement brought the Electoral Act to court to allow citizens to stand as independent candidates to contest the next general election. Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga, presiding over the case, ordered Parliament to reform the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 to include independent candidates within 24 months.

ANC Members of Parliament have been moving in circles, delaying the process and using every opportunity to frustrate the reforms. When ultimately forced to introduce these reforms, they did the bare minimum.

Who knew that when the ANC came to power, it would no longer preach majority rule but would practice minority rule by its own elite after it became government. When it was excluded from power by apartheid it preached majority rule, but once in the seat of power, it is minority rule for themselves. What hypocrisy!

Instead of the present sham, only a genuine radical reform of the parliamentary Electoral Act can rescue and renew the country and the ANC itself. We need Power to the People, so that we as citizens of South Africa have the power to choose — and remove — MPs and provincial MPLs by name as genuine and not fake representatives. 

We need light, not darkness. South Africa needs clean, ethical government, not corrupt government by a party elite.

We as citizens need to build a powerful, nationwide, mass movement demanding a comprehensive reform of the electoral system — a new Mass Democratic Movement. We have waited too long. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    Needs and wants are totally different concepts that require genuine introspection and accountability.
    When there is a trough that NEEDS filling in order to perpetuate the current cycle of disgrace, the WANTS of the people disappear as fast as the power in loadshedding.
    Education of the masses is the single thing that will make a shift, but that clearly is not going to happen anytime soon, by deliberate design.
    So many people doing their best to do so much good, every day, but being stifled by the charlatans in Luthuli House is like running into a brick wall of utter delinquency.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    We know, Mister Omry, we live here.

  • Bruce Anderson says:

    … is a rank and file member…. Still?

  • Helen Holleman says:

    Citizens seem to have forgotten that the country belongs to the people, and those who are elected are elected to SERVE. Start by reminding your local elected representatives in the many dysfunctional municipalities that you – the citizens – employ and pay them, and they are directly answerable to the citizens. This is OUR city, OUR country – and we should NOT be intimidated by the so-called ‘Honourable this and that’.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    I too have read the du Ruyter book, Mr Makgoale, and I concur it should be prescribed reading, not only for all ANC members, but also by all students, as it is essential that we learn fast, and starting immediately from the lessons that our recent history has taught us.

    Competence, skills, experience are all sine qua non, in any organisation, and the blinkered, myopic, destructive policy of only selecting from within ANC cadre ranks, fully knowing that these people, because they by-and-large shunned learning and education, spending to much of their formative years tinkering with boxes of matches, rather than getting to grips with the leadership skills necessary to run a modern economy.

    As you point out, Mr Makgoale, the lessons of failure are in all our neighbouring countries, of whom only Botswana has had a modicum of success, yet the ANC were criminally negligent in not learning from their mistakes, and this despite the warnings from some of our continents wisest old heads.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    A very fitting description of what the ANC has become.

  • Steve Stevens says:

    Omry, why do you stay in the ANC? Why didn’t Madiba and The Arch speak out when things started going south? And why do you think people living in absolute squalor continue to vote for the ANC? I hope you read this and reply as your opinions would genuinely interest me.

    • Wayne Harris says:

      Seems Irish to criticise your beloved ANC & continue to want to be part of the rank & file?
      Surely the change you want should be lived? There is no chance that this ANC will ever be transformed.

      • Dragon Slayer says:

        The Arch certainly did speak out! I am also sure that Madiba, in not doing so, would have been his greatest regret if he had lived to see what South Africa has become.

  • Jeremy Stephenson says:

    “Are there still leaders of integrity inside the ANC?”

    By now, this question must surely be rhetorical. If you were a leader of integrity, how in all conscience could you remain loyal to the party?

    • Dragon Slayer says:

      What we have in South Africa is called a kakistocracy. (Yes – it is a real word) A term to describe a form of government where the leaders are considered to be the worst or most corrupt individuals within society. Characterised by self interest and the manipulation of power rather than the welfare or best interests of the people. The leaders in a kakistocracy would be selected by their ability to manipulate or control others, rather than their competence or moral character. Sound familiar!

  • Milner Erlank Erlank says:

    Mr Makgoale: A wonderful, accurate analysis. We are truly blighted. Would that every ANC cadre reads it and realise their role is the the real cause of an ailing South Africa. But the cadres have proved time and again that they have no conscience. They put the ANC first, South Africa last, deliberately. For me, the greatest crime of all is the destruction of the education system producing learners standards far below the universal norm and a nation ill-equipped to deal with the demands of developing South Africa.

  • Jacques Wessels says:

    “We need light, not darkness. South Africa needs clean, ethical government, not corrupt government by a party elite.” Only by creating apolitical civil associations eg Rates Payers etc and keeping shameful self serving politicians & officials to account will this be achieved. Please create or join local civic organisations and hold their collective stink feet to the fire

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