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'Sick' ANC must return to putting the people first

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-01-16 00:04:39.0

The Times Editorial: Avid Makhura, the ANC's Gauteng secretary, called his party a very sick centenarian. And if the old man is not cured soon, Makhura said, he will not stay in power for very long.

This is perhaps one of the most frank admissions, by a senior leader, that there is something terribly amiss in the party that has just celebrated its 100th year.

There are few who could disagree with Makhura's assessment - the ANC of 2012 is not the pre-1994 liberation organisation.

In many ways, since becoming the majority party, the ANC has betrayed its philosophy and principles.

Governing and delivering to the millions of South Africans who voted the ANC into power has been an onerous burden.

Many of those voters have become immeasurably frustrated at being asked to wait for economic empowerment to accompany the political emancipation of 1994.

The spreading service delivery protests are perhaps the strongest expression of this frustration, along with the violent attacks on immigrants from other African countries.

Clearly, as Makhura and NEC member Malusi Gigaba said yesterday, things must change if the ANC hopes to thrive and survive.

It is vital that those who lead the party undergo a change of mind-set - about what constitutes being in the service of the ANC.

For instance, far too many ANC leaders and members equate service with financial gain, and believe membership translates into access to a trough filled with tenders and bribes.

There is no doubt the nation owes a considerable debt to the ANC for its determination to liberate South Africa from apartheid.

And the sickness that Makhura describes can be cured.

But the ANC needs to construct a vision for the future - one that boldly shuns the blinding arrogance it has displayed over the past 17 years.

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