The 55th elective conference is taking place at the most critical point in our society’s history.
Support for the ruling party has been in deep decline since the first democratic election in 1994. The political climate is probably best described as toxic and fraught with deep divisions within and across political parties.
The country views the deep socioeconomic challenges, the decline in growth, the energy insecurity, the public sector wage deadlock, and the dysfunctional state of state-owned entities as a direct crisis of the ruling party. This conference requires members of the ANC to reflect deeply on the fundamental objectives of the party and its vision as espoused by the founding fathers in 1912.
At its core, the ANC was founded to roll back the draconian British colonial law which facilitated the dispossession of land from Africans to European settlers through the South Africa Act of 1909 and the Natives Land Act of 1912. If the founding fathers John Langalibalele Dube, Pixley ka Isaka Seme and Sol Plaatje, were with us today, would they be proud of the movement and what it has become?
TheFreedom Charter proclaimed that: “The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex. All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government… Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land redivided among those who work it to banish famine and land hunger. The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers”.
Fast forward to today, SA is a country with deep inequalities which resemble two nations in one. One that has a majority of the wealth apportioned to a minority of the population and another which is extremely poor and African in the majority.
Factionalism is the biggest threat to the congress movement and its renewal. Leadership battles among the ruling elite, fuelled by personal gain, alienate the ANC from its mass base and its objectives for a non-racist, non-sexist society for all.
The delegates at this conference have the tough task of choosing leaders to unite a clearly divided party and nation. They must choose leaders that will deliver on land redistribution, free higher education, and the transformation of the economy.
Window dressing on key policy questions cannot be allowed to continue. Society no longer has the patience to wait. Deep economic challenges roll back the progress made in 1994 to enhance social cohesion and social solidarity across races. Xenophobia and hate crimes are characteristic of a society in deep turmoil and at war with itself.
Good luck to the delegates. Remember that history has no blank pages. I wish you well in your robust engagement. May the ANC live long. Amandla!
By Lebogang Mulaisi, Cosatu Head of Policy unit.
Source: Business Day