11 January, 2015

The ANC at 103

by Hussein Solomon

As South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) celebrates its 103rd anniversary this weekend in Cape Town, political and economic prospects for the country have never looked bleaker under the ANC’s 21 years of misrule. Corruption has become increasingly institutionalized in the country under the ANC. Moreover, those seeking to expose such corruption have paid a horrendous price. The vilification of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for her courageous report on the Nkandla scandal which witnessed R240 million of taxpayer money siphoned off to upgrade President Jacob Zuma’s private residence is a case in point. The recent axing of Lieutenant-General Anwa Dramat from his post, meanwhile, seems designed to protect the financial interests of President Zuma, his family and business partners.

At an economic level, and despite the adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP), the ANC seems to be floundering rudderless. The various dysfunctional state enterprises like the power utility Eskom is one indicator of the malaise. Poor planning, shoddy senior appointments, a focus on the short as opposed to the long-term have all resulted in load-shedding where electricity is cut off for a period of time each day. There is every indication that this will begin again next week and continue into 2016. Needless to say, it will only serve to undermine investor confidence as the limping economy will switch to recession with the attendant social costs of even further unemployment. Indeed, one economist has predicted that South Africa’s investment status will be cut to junk should load-shedding take place in the first quarter of 2015.

It is increasingly evident that voters are losing patience with the party. In last year’s elections, the ANC suffered significant declines in support across key urban metros from Gauteng to the Eastern Cape (KwaZulu-Natal being the exception, given it being Zuma’s support base). Indeed, some political commentators see the ANC, like Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF, becoming an increasingly rural political party in the future.

Anniversary celebrations in the news

Despite these stark realities, the ANC launched its festive anniversary celebrations in Cape Town with a vow to taking back the Western Cape, the only province it does not control from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). The ANC’s politics however suggest that it remains stuck in the racial politics of the past as opposed to moving this great country forward. Addressing a press conference in Cape Town in the run-up to the festivities, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe accused the DA of wanting to keep the Western Cape “white and uncontaminated”. If this is the best, this 103 year-old party has to offer, then its best that in the next election, voters ensure that this dinosaur of a party is confined to the dustbin of history. South Africa deserves better.

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