Sun Dec 04 14:17:21 SAST 2016

The Big Read: Time to talk about the future

Justice Malala | 2016-10-31 07:52:59.0
THE BIGGER THEY ARE .: Students from the Johannesburg and Wits universities at the ANC national head office in Johannesburg protesting against university fee increases - and making clear their opinion of the quality of the country's leadership
Image by: MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP

We must now urgently discuss a future that does not have a massive, dominant ANC at its centre.

We need to talk about such a future, for it is clear that the ANC is not just fraying at the edges. It is dying.

What replaces an organisation that has been at the heart and centre of our lives for 104 years? If the ANC falls, what must - what will - rise in its place?

This is the mess we are in today: the universities are under siege. The nihilists on campuses do not want free tertiary education. They want the total collapse of the society we live in, the dismantling of the 1994 project. They do not know what must rise and offer a catch-all phrase for a plan and a vision: decolonisation.

The ANC is wracked by deep internal battles, and has no way of responding to the Fallist challenge intellectually. The party is bankrupt. Its intellectuals have no time to analyse and lead the battle of ideas, particularly at these challenging times in our evolution as a society.

President Jacob Zuma - a homophobic, chauvinistic, kleptocratic and extremely dangerous spymaster - now leads the party of Albert Luthuli and Pixley kaIsaka Seme. He is not a man of ideas. He has none to offer. He has never had any to offer.

After 22 years in power and barrels of ink spent on books and newspapers analysing its dominance, the ANC is eating itself up at such a fast rate that it may stutter, stall and implode within a few years.

If the party's parliament chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, is to be believed, it will not win the 2019 national elections if it continues on its current path. Can the party "right" itself? Can it "self-correct"?

The chances are slim. The signs are all around that it has no ability, plan or will- except for a few of its veteran leaders - to fix itself.

Last week in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, the party's traditional ally and bulwark in rural areas, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA, mooted the idea of starting a party and going its own way.

ANC veteran Andrew Mlangeni, head of the party's integrity committee, told The Star newspaper recently: "It [the Nkandla issue] could have been handled differently.

"They [ANC leadership] should have taken a decision and asked him [Zuma] to resign because by not resigning he has killed the organisation, and the economy of the country has gone down."

Read that again: "He has killed the organisation."

Business Day reported last week that an internal ANC document states that ANC regions believe that Zuma should be disciplined and want to know why the Constitutional Court's finding that the president broke his oath of office over Nkandla was not referred to its integrity committee.

It further says that a number of regions want Zuma to resign. Will he? No, he will destroy the organisation of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela first.

So, what will rise in the ANC's place? There are currently two ANCs. The one dominated by Zuma has threatened those who have called for him to step down by saying if he goes, they too will go.

Those are the leaders of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, the youth and women's leagues and others.

"The president of the ANC is the face of the ANC and therefore if you allow people to destroy the president, the following day we will wake up without an organisation," ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini warned in March.

So, that's the first scenario - the ANC implodes and two emerge, with all the messiness and upheaval that would entail.

Who rises in such an eventuality? What new, or old, political player capitalises on this?

Are Julius Malema or Mmusi Maimane ready to lead?

The scenario is not far-fetched: the DA, in a very loose (in fact, nonexistent) coalition with the EFF, now runs Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. That would have been considered a pipe dream just a few years ago.

Another scenario is that the ANC continues on the kleptocratic, antidemocratic, anticonstitution path Zuma has set it on, becoming more security obsessed and veering towards a dictatorship.

Is South Africa ready to nip such a development in the bud? Will civil society be strong enough to stop Zuma in his tracks if he continues to try and undermine the constitution? The signs are encouraging that our democracy is strong enough to stop these tendencies.

Whatever trajectory it takes the writing is on the wall. The ANC is on its way out. It is losing the battle to transform from a liberation movement to a vibrant party within a democracy.

This is sad, of course. The idea of a "prosperous, united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist" South Africa as championed by the ANC remains a noble one.

Someone else will now have to fight that struggle. But who?

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