With the Reverend Frank Chikane alluding to the reset button as being an urgent required by the ANC to rectify itself before the next General Election, is this a real possibility or will the real solutions remain elusive, cast aside in deflection and CYA activities ?
Main picture: President Jacob Zuma waves to ANC Supporters at a pre-election rally
What will the outcome of the four day NEC be? Will deep-rooted changes be effected or will it be more of the same? The initial hint that the latter situation will prevail is Mantashe’s comment that there is no agenda item called Zuma. By placing preconditions on the discussions, the so-called introspection will preclude the discussion of vital issues.
At the other extreme, the ANC’s alliance partner, the South African Communist Party has been forthright in demanding that all “turds be placed on the table.” The only prescient comment was their warning against “blindly supporting an individual”. This can only be a veiled reference to Number 1.
To deflect blame from the ANC some external factor will be designated as the bogeyman. The Times headline of today [Friday 12th August 2016] boldly proclaims that Gwede Mantashe warns that “the party was too slow to deal with the threat of proportional representation.” His gripe is that as the ANC won the most wards, they were the winners. Threats of amending the election rules are now being bandied about. How facile? That is the whole reason for having for applying a proportional representation system. That ensures that all votes are equal and that jerrymandering of constituencies by the ruling party is impossible.
Let us recall South Africa’s prior experience in this regard. Under the pretext that rural constituencies would be become too large an area if all constituencies had to contain the same number of voters, a reduction of 40% was allowed in rural constituencies. Secondly with the National Party in control of the Demarcation Boards, constituency boundaries were set to corral opposition voters into constituencies where they would have an overwhelming majority thereby in effect wasting their votes.
By means of such manipulation, at a national election level, the NP did not have a majority for the first ten years of power. Furthermore by the 1970’s, the NP were awarded 75% of the seats in spite of winning 60% of the vote.
Is this what the ANC is attempting to do yet again?
Of noteworthy interesting, and not unforeseen, is the solution proposed by the Gupta’s newspaper, The New Age. They conclude that the Gauteng provincial leadership should shoulder the blame and be disbanded.
What has the international experience been with regard to fundamental introspection and renewal in political parties?
The party in power is never able to deeply change course midway whilst in power. Not that it is impossible but the forthright open discussions required will be stymied by the fact that the dirty laundry will have to be aired. Once in opposition without the incumbency of power to consider, can the real frank discussions occur, policy positions considered and final proposals agreed.
Furthermore it is not merely being out of power for one term that creates conditions conducive for such frank discussions. If one takes the UK as a shining example, it was only during the second term in opposition that ingrained positions can realistically be debated.
Trump’s campaign highlights what the Republican’s Achilles heel is. Whilst Trump can be classified as misogynist, racial and intolerant – all of which I concur with – but that is merely a reflection of the Republican Party today as he is merely a mirror of those views. What is required to disabuse the Republican Party of their pro-gun, pro-life, anti multi-culturalism stance, but yet another term or two with a Democratic President and hopefully a Democratic Congress and Senate.
That will be so sobering that it will jolt sense into them.
Jolts of realism require such tough love by the electorate.
Coming back to the ANC, can they achieve their renewal whilst still in power? Will the introspection as declared by Ramaposa result in enduring change? Will the real causes of declining support be addressed by the ANC?
Instead deflection, massaging the facts, window dressing, lies and timid moves will be the order of the day whereas serving a term as impotent opposition members is what will sober them up.
Good luck to the ANC
I will not hold my breath for real change to arise.