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Mon Apr 27 20:30:42 CAT 2015

Flaws in ANC structures mean no quick fix

Sapa | 13 February, 2013 15:19
An African National Congress (ANC) supporter holds the party's flag. File picture.
Image by: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / Reuters

Flaws in the internal structures of the ANC have prevented the party from tackling serious problems in South Africa, analysts say.

Speaking at a discussion on the policy outcomes of the party's Mangaung conference in December, University of Johannesburg (UJ) professor Kwandile Khondlo discussed the need for organisational renewal in the African National Congress.

"This is an organisation that is socially robust, but structurally disarticulate [sic]. You find the ANC in every corner of SA, in every street, but institutionally and structurally the organisation is disarticulate," he said.

"Members of the same organisation will tell you different stories about the same issues which have been agreed upon by the organisation."

UJ and Rhodes University professor Steven Friedman said the flaws had resulted in the party not accomplishing its goals.

"The problems that the ANC have experienced over the last few years are a symptom of the fact that we as a society, and that includes the ANC, have failed," he said.

"We have failed to put the country onto a new trajectory in which we can build an economy that includes everybody.

"There are certain structural problems within the ANC -- people are using politics as means of accumulating wealth that they can't accumulate in the private sector," Friedman said.

Khondlo said an important issue was the calibre of ANC cadres.

"A profile of the average ANC cadre... [shows] that he doesn't read much; he also relies on anecdotes and rhetoric, and he fetishises [sic] patronage."

However, Friedman said the ANC was unique among other political parties in democracies around the world because it was open about its flaws.

"On the other hand, if you still identify the same problems 10 years after you started identifying them in the first place, clearly the processes are not in place to deal with those problems."

He said the farmworker strikes in De Doorns, Western Cape, and the death of 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana, North West, on August 16 last year, proved that the legacy of apartheid inequality was still alive.

"Despite all the things you hear about the evils of affirmative action... the reality, 18 years after democracy, is that the same people who were economically dominating before 1994, are still economically dominating," Friedman said.

"These inequalities don't just affect us by what happens in places like Marikana and De Doorns, it also affects the governing party itself."

He said the ANC had to be more open about political competition and lobbying in the party.

"We had the situation in which nobody was supposed to be campaigning until October [last year], an event that extended into November," Friedman said.

"Of course, we all know that people were campaigning all the time, but instead of doing it openly, they were leaking things to the media."

He said the ANC should learn from the Congress of SA Trade Unions on how it held a transparent conference last year.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said at the discussion that the party allowed "contestation".

"All we are saying is that this is the formula we are using -- it works for us.

"I don't think we should borrow something else and say that we have Democrats and Republicans like in the US. It won't work for us because the composition of our society is not ready for that."

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