ANC is capitalising on Ramaphoria - and that might be bad news for SA

The ANC has metamorphosed into something different, something alien, to the original canons and traditions of its founding fathers

22 July 2018 - 00:00
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Phumza Sakona Ntongana

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been quick to welcome the news this week that support for the ANC has increased dramatically since he took over the leadership from the scandal-prone Jacob Zuma. Ramaphoria is alive and kicking, it seems.

Surveys show that the ANC, which was in the doldrums only a year ago, has increased its support from below 50% to around 60%. On the face of it, Ramaphosa seems to have given people enough reason to take another look at the ANC.

Ramaphosa, however, is a cleft stick. He still insists that his main priority is to unite the ANC, an impossible task. In that respect, his approach is no different from that of Zuma who, a few years ago, famously said the organisation was more important than the country. I guess admiration of the party above all else is in the DNA of its members.

But uniting the party is no longer akin to serving the interests of the country or taking it forward, for the ANC has metamorphosed into something different, something alien, to the original canons and traditions of its founding fathers.

The aim was not only to free the country from oppression but to transform it and put it on a higher moral plane. What we have instead is something close to a nightmare.

Apartheid apologists are having a gleeful chuckle, their predictions and prejudices exonerated. We told you so: blacks can't rule. They're corrupt and incompetent. The ANC unfortunately is reinforcing such stereotypes.

So why, in the face of such crookedness and delinquency, is ANC support showing an increase? When Nelson Mandela took over and ran a government that was more competent and less corrupt than its National Party predecessor, it became a powerful riposte to the apartheid ideology. For many black people it was not only a vindication, but a liberation from such stereotypes. And by pursuing his policy of national reconciliation, Mandela was slaying another Nationalist dragon - that different races or ethnic groups cannot live or govern together.

But as the ANC degenerated and came under increasing attack for its malfeasance, it has tended to abandon its age-old policy of nonracialism and appeal solely to the base instincts of the African majority - competing on that score with the EFF on its left flank.

Some of its supporters, repelled by corruption, have been casting about for an alternative party to vote for. But they have found the opposition DA not appetising enough. The ANC's crude propaganda that the DA is a white party with a black face that would bring back apartheid has proved effective.

The other opposition parties are simply too small to waste one's vote on. Even the EFF, with its bellicose and increasingly racist rhetoric, has seemingly not been able to increase its support.

The ANC was staring certain defeat in the face had Zuma been in charge or had Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma succeeded him. It stands a chance with Ramaphosa at the helm. But it is not out of the woods yet. Sitting precariously at the top, Ramaphosa has been banging on about party unity as if merely talking about it will solidify his tenuous hold on power. But organisations are united by values, by what they stand for, by their belief systems.

Having jettisoned nonracialism and with the paucity of its performance in power, what exactly does the ANC stand for now? What is its culture? By culture I mean its guiding principles, customs and social behaviours.

Corruption seems to tower above all else. I'd therefore argue that corruption has become its abiding culture. It's endemic, it's systemic, it's ingrained. In fact corruption is the glue that holds the ANC together. To the ANC, corruption is like a drink to a drunkard who's at an advanced stage of alcoholism. He has to keep drinking, or he dies.

To expect the ANC to deal effectively with corruption is to invite turkeys to vote for Christmas. It won't happen. It's suicidal. Corruption is its lifeblood.

To the ANC, corruption is like a drink to a drunkard who's at an advanced stage of alcoholism. He has to keep drinking, or he dies

Why such a bleak assessment? The evidence is there for all to see. It's not only a festering sore; it offends our very humanity. Zuma's Nkandla debauchery and his role in advancing the interests of the Guptas via state capture have been well documented. For Ramaphosa, those are sins of omission rather than commission. He slept at the switch.

A party that stood foursquare behind Zuma despite mounting evidence of wrongdoing cannot remotely be regarded as a vehicle to fight corruption. It's sickening, therefore, that with a new leader a substantial number of people think it can, despite the damage it's done to the country.

Let's look at Ramaphosa's own record. In David Mabuza, he has a deputy who, as premier of Mpumalanga, turned that province into a den of thieves, where whistleblowers are killed with impunity. The ANC head office is headed by Ace Magashule, who's left the Free State in a shambles and who's personally involved in enabling the Guptas to benefit in the Estina dairy scandal.

This week it emerged that an ANC employee at Luthuli House has been arrested for involvement in cash-in-transit heists. One ANC apparatchik was heard to express shock at this, but such delinquent behaviour is par for the course. There are many upstanding people in the ANC, but sometimes it's hard to escape the conclusion that the party has become a criminal syndicate.

Ramaphosa's anti-corruption message may resonate in the country, but those within the party feel threatened by it. It is therefore unlikely that corruption will ever be eradicated if the ANC wins next year's election. For alcoholism to be overcome, the drunkard will first have to be allowed to die.

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