Opinion

ANC on its way to creating the next monster in its line of untouchable presidents

16 July 2017 - 00:02 By ranjeni munusamy

It is rather baffling that, in the midst of South Africa's worst post-democracy economic crisis, a massive leadership battle is raging in the governing party without much debate on which candidate or leadership collective would be best to navigate the country out of turbulent waters.
Surely that should be the top priority now?
Those in the ANC who are willing to admit that President Jacob Zuma has been an unmitigated disaster are still insulating the crisis around the looting spree he allowed and continues to defend.
The fact that Zuma has been in what amounts to a power-sharing arrangement with the Gupta family has a lot to do with the ANC's tendency to create untouchable presidents whom they cannot hold to account.
Former president Thabo Mbeki's interview with Power98.7 on Thursday night was a voyage down memory lane, allowing us to remember his brilliance and propensity to mesmerise you to the point of confusion.
Mbeki's wisdom was lost to the country because of the manner in which the ANC built him up and then shot him down.For most of his presidency, members of the ANC national executive committee were so enamoured with and daunted by Mbeki's superior intellect that they shied away from challenging him on issues that sullied his presidency.
When the ANC turned against him, the NEC went for the jugular, recalling him from office.
There seemed to be no middle point where the party and the president interacted dynamically, and where rationality and the interests of the country could prevail.
The situation worsened under Zuma, with the NEC and the ANC parliamentary caucus eviscerating themselves to defend the president's appalling conduct.
Even after Zuma violated the constitution and surrendered the state to the Guptas, the ANC continued to pussyfoot around him.
The ANC is now on its way to creating another presidency it will have no control over.
What do the two main candidates in the ANC succession race, Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stand for?
Other than the fact that they have long histories in the ANC and the democratic movement, what vision do they have for the country and what specifically will they do about the economic crisis?
For far too long, leadership candidates have used the excuse that the ANC decides on policy and they are merely caricatures to implement these.
The Mbeki and Zuma presidencies showed that this is far from reality.
Both moulded their presidencies in their own image - one a hard machinery that tended to be out of touch with the lives of ordinary people and the other a system wilfully corrupted to plunder the state and destroy democratic institutions.There is now absolutely no doubt that corruption has infested the state through an assortment of criminal activities perpetrated by the Gupta family and those in the political and business network around them.
Still, the ANC refuses to confront the matter head-on and separate itself from the rot.
The diagnostic report to the ANC policy conference by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was put out like a saucer of milk to lure the little kitties to drink. It had to approach the phenomenon of state capture delicately, without mentioning anyone in the ANC who colluded with the Guptas, or the report would not have seen the light of day.
When Zuma is no longer president of the ANC, the fog will no doubt lift and people will suddenly rediscover their speaking voices - as was the case after Mbeki lost the presidential race in 2007.
Then it will be time to create the next monster.
As it is, the ANC is not holding any of the candidates for presidency to the criteria spelt out in its own blueprint for leadership, "Through the Eye of the Needle".
ANC leaders "should be above reproach in [their] political and social conduct", the document says.
"The ultimate test of leadership includes striving for convergence between personal interests - material, status and otherwise - and the collective interest," it reads. The document also states that being an ANC leader means "not only being free of corrupt practices, it also means actively fighting against corruption".

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