The ANC’s programme of radical economic transformation has its roots in the Freedom Charter, which was adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown 62 years ago this week.
The Freedom Charter captures perfectly the intent and, to some extent, the content of radical economic transformation. It was at the Congress of the People that representatives of the people of this country gathered to declare that: “The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth.”
Given the extent of dispossession, discrimination, exploitation and exclusion, this call in the Freedom Charter was a call for radical and fundamental economic transformation.
Over the intervening six decades, the principles of redress, redistribution, social justice and equality have been at the centre of ANC economic policy. These principles have underpinned the ANC’s policies in government, notably in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and the National Development Plan (NDP).
At the ANC’s Mangaung Conference in 2012, the organisation adopted the NDP as an overarching framework for the second phase of our democratic transition – the pursuit of socio-economic freedom. The Mangaung Conference recognised that in the nearly two decades since the advent of democracy, political freedom had largely been achieved. The priority now was to pursue economic freedom.
The term ‘radical economic transformation’ was first used in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, which was adopted by government in 2014 to guide the work of this current administration. The MTSF 2014-2019, which is derived from the NDP, introduced the term to signal an intensification and acceleration of the economic transformation process.
Radical economic transformation is therefore not a break with existing policy. It does not represent a new, uncertain path. Radical economic transformation indicates a new phase of accelerated implementation of the long-standing economic policy positions of the ANC and government.
Among the most profound statements to come out of the Congress of the People was that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. That statement was far more than an assertion of the right of residence in this country.
It was a declaration that all South Africans, regardless of race, have a right to an equal share of the country’s natural resources. They must share in ownership of, and access to, the means of production.
The ‘economic clause’ of the Freedom Charter expands on this sentiment: “The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people; all people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.”
The Freedom Charter envisages a mixed economy with both public and private ownership. It envisages a developmental state that plays a leading role in ensuring economic access to those previously denied economic opportunity. It envisages a state with sufficient legal authority and economic means to ensure decent working conditions and to take steps to improve the lives of the poor and marginalised.
If we are to realise the vision of the Freedom Charter, we need an unrelenting focus on the economy. It must be placed at the centre of all our efforts.
Radical economic transformation is, in essence, about building a more equal society through sustained inclusive growth. We need to fundamentally alter the racial and gender composition of the ownership, control and management of our economy. We need a South African economy that truly reflects the composition, diversity and interests of the South African people.
This necessarily requires that we address the concentration of ownership in the economy. Many significant economic sectors are dominated by just a few companies. Not only does this make transformation more difficult by limiting the scope for new entrants, but it also stifles competition, keeps prices high and encourages inefficiency. If we are to truly unleash our country’s potential, we need to tackle this concentration of ownership, control and market dominance.
We also need to diversify our economy, specifically through the development of our industrial capacity. South Africa has abundant mineral and agricultural resources, but is not extracting the true economic value of these resources before exporting them. In reality, South Africa’s natural resources are creating millions of jobs in other countries. By beneficiating our minerals, by processing our agricultural produce, we will be able to realise their full potential value.
Radical economic transformation will not be achieved without a massive increase in the number of South Africans who are employed. Job creation remains the most effective driver of inclusive growth, the most direct route out of poverty, and the best way to address inequality. That is why government, business, labour and other social partners have identified job creation as the most important and pressing economic task of the moment. Everything we do must be aimed towards job creation.
But jobs will not be created in any significant quantity unless the economy grows at a much faster rate. And the economy will not grow unless there is significant investment in productive activity. It must therefore be a matter of great concern that the country is in recession, that business confidence has declined and that our sovereign credit rating has been downgraded. These developments severely undermine our efforts to fundamentally transform our economy.
Yet, although we find ourselves in difficult economic circumstances, we cannot afford to be despondent. Now, more than ever, we need to work together on practical measures to turn around the South African economy.
Among the areas where progress has been made, and where work is ongoing, is in the promotion of investment in industry. This includes through the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment, the expansion of industrial incentives, the establishment of special economic zones and streamlining investment approval processes.
Another important area is to leverage public infrastructure investment far more effectively and deliberately. Even under the current fiscal constraints, government continues to dedicate significant resources to its infrastructure build and maintenance programme. We need to use this investment to develop our own manufacturing capabilities and local suppliers. We need also to bear in mind that investment in infrastructure on the African continent as a whole will only grow in the coming decades. As South Africa, we need to ready ourselves to be among the leading suppliers for Africa’s infrastructure revolution.
For radical economic transformation to be successful, the process of black economic empowerment needs to be integral to our efforts to grow the economy. Empowerment and growth should be mutually reinforcing. By bringing more black South Africans into the economy – as owners, managers, financiers, industrialists and employees – we are expanding the capacity of our economy. We are improving the potential for growth and development.
We need to use the levers of state procurement more effectively to affirm black-owned companies. We have been successful to some extent, but we need to do more to ensure that government’s substantial procurement budget opens up opportunities for emerging black businesses. We need to challenge the view that preferential procurement measures encourage fraud and corruption. Where there is corruption, nepotism or fronting, it must be dealt with decisively and those responsible must face the full might of the law.
Government’s black industrialists programme is part of a broader development in the evolution of black economic empowerment. Until now, much of the empowerment activity has been around the acquisition of black partners of minority stakes in established businesses. While this has enabled many to build up a capital base and acquire skills and capabilities, it has not brought about the broad-based empowerment that the country needs.
There is now a growing determination for black business people to establish their own companies or to become majority shareholders in existing businesses. There is a greater push, using mechanisms like the black industrialists programme and the revised BEE codes, for black people to establish, own, finance and control businesses in their own right.
Central to the success of radical economic transformation – central to the growth of our economy and the prosperity of our people – is the development of our people’s skills. If we can succeed in undoing the damage that apartheid education did, we will have succeeded in changing our country’s economy and our society beyond recognition.
If we can provide all our children with quality basic education, if we can make higher education accessible to all, and if we can equip our young people with skills appropriate to the workplace of tomorrow, then we will have laid the firmest foundation for economic growth and inclusion.
If these efforts are to succeed – if we are to transform our economy – we need to have certain fundamentals in place. We need a capable developmental state that is able to effectively direct resources towards where they have the greatest economic and social benefit. That means it needs to have an advanced planning and monitoring capability.
It needs to ensure that the country’s resources – from its minerals to its oceans to its broadband spectrum – are used to advance the interests of the people, particularly the poor. We need to have state owned enterprises that fulfil a clear developmental function, that are governed effectively, that manage their finances responsibly and that are led by capable, honest and accountable people. We need to root out corruption both in the public and private sectors. We need to eliminate mismanagement and wastage.
Fundamentally, radical economic transformation requires a supportive macroeconomic policy. We need to preserve our economic sovereignty so that we, the people of South Africa, may determine for ourselves the economic model, policies and programmes that best serve our national interest. That means we need to avoid a debt trap, which would scupper our transformation efforts and leave future generations saddled with the burden of our irresponsibility.
We must adhere to the current fiscal framework. We need to be spending our public resources on infrastructure, education, health and the needs of the poor – not servicing debt.
Above all, for radical economic transformation to succeed, we need to build a new national consensus on a programme for inclusive growth. We need to mobilise all sections of society in support of that programme.
The Freedom Charter provides a vision of an economy that is fundamentally different from what we inherited. It calls for radical economic transformation. It is our responsibility to effect this change.
Cyril Ramaphosa is the Deputy President of the African National Congress.
We should emerge from the National Policy Conference with policies that will help reimagine the future of the ANC and our country writes ANC Gauteng Chairperson, Cde Paul Mashatile.
Over past weekend (23 – 25 June) the ANC Gauteng Province had a robust conversation about policy proposals that, as a province, we believe are appropriate in propelling our movement to a higher revolutionary trajectory. We did so against the backdrop of our organization, the ANC and the broader alliance facing unprecedented challenges as leaders of society.
Our discussions took place inspired by the knowledge that the challenges that our movement is facing are not insurmountable. We remain alive to the fact that our organization has faced daunting challenges in the past. One is reminded of situations that preceded the Lobatse, Morogoro and Kabwe Conferences. It was tough and the challenges at the time were so complex that they even threatened to tear the movement apart. However, we were able to surmount those obstacles, thanks to the visionary leadership of the caliber of Cde President Oliver Tambo and other leaders of the time.
The ANC survived not only to wage the struggle that culminated into the democratic breakthrough of 1994 but also to develop and implement some of the most progressive policies that have changed and continue to change the lives of our people for the better. We survived because we listened. We survived because we were not in denial and we survived because women and men of the time put the interest of our organization above their own. We also survived because we adhered to time-tested values of humility, selflessness, moral uprightness and service to the people. These are the values that have ensured that we become the Parliament of the People and leaders of society.
These are the values that Cde Tambo cherised and lived for. They informed his leadership and ensured that the ANC survive trial and tribulations of repression, banishment, detention, imprisonment and exile.
The ANC is more than 105 years because it adhered to these values with its leadership unshaken in utilizing them as their guide. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Tambo, it is incumbent upon us that we return to these values as part of paying tribute to the sacrifice he made in pursuance of a vision of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society. Our return to these values will be a fitting tribute to him and the thousands of our patriots who sacrificed life and limb during the fight against apartheid and for freedom and democracy.
There is no denying that our movement is in trouble! Things are not well with the ANC having lost key municipalities in the last local government elections and our people expressing their unhappiness with the way we do things. We therefore need to determine what needs to be done to save our movement so as it can reclaim its standing as leader of society and parliament of the people.
As we engage in discussions during the eminent National Policy Conference on 30 June to 05 July, we need to honestly examine what led us to be where we are and how do we emerge from this deep hole more stronger and united. Without unity, the future looks bleak. It is, however, important that the unity we forge is not based on the shifting sands of illusion. We need to confront all the ills that afflict and weaken our movement and be principled about it.
Hence, the announcement by the President to establish a judicial commission of enquiry into state capture is welcomed as this will go a long way in ensuring that comrades who are accused of malfeasances are afforded an opportunity to clear their names and we put this ugly saga behind us.
In our efforts to rescue our movement, we also need to stop being inward looking. Our people are crying out and the ANC need to address their needs and concerns if we are to rescue the ANC from the morass is trapped in.
As we do this we need to be guided by what President Tambo said when opening the 48th National Conference of the ANC and I quote:
“Even as we provided leadership, we were always conscious of the fact that the ANC was the people`s parliament. The widespread circulation of Constitutional Guidelines was a further assertion of the sovereignty of the people. The unity in action of our people has remained the guiding beacon throughout the days of illegality. To reach our goal of a united, democratic, nonracial and nonsexist South Africa, sooner rather than later, then we must not deviate from this course. In this context, we considered it important that decisions of the ANC were to be shaped by popular mass endorsement at all times. Even if such decisions were acceptable within the Movement, they would have come to naught unless they enjoyed popular support beyond the bounds of the ANC itself. Whilst our policies were in terms of our beliefs and convictions, they also reflected and served the people`s interests. Above all, we sought to make the people part and parcel of our decisions.”
Society yearns for leadership and we cannot provide it unless we not only listen to our people but also respond to their cries. Gone are the days when the ANC would assume that what they agree upon within its structures will resonate with the people. We have to be constantly in touch and in sync with the nation’s pulse. It is against this backdrop therefore that as we embark on the exercise of reviewing our policies, we have to determine whether the issue is the policies themselves or it is lack of implementation thereof given the fact that most if not all our policies are progressive and forward looking.
My take is that the issue is less about policies per se but more about their implementation. It would therefore be prudent that we cast our focus more on how best to implement our policies if we are to remain relevant. Hence we should ask ourselves how best we will be tackling the scourge of crime, especially against women and children. As a societal issue, our strategies should be comprehensive including attending to both economic and social matters.
We must strengthen our Community Policing Fora (CPFs) and street committees so as they work with law-enforcement agencies to fight crime. We also urge our courts to impose harsher sentences on perpetrators of crime.
Our radical economic transformation agenda has to be brought under the spotlight. The ANC has to escalate its efforts to bring our people into the mainstream of the economy so as they also play an active role to ensure that economic benefits accrue to them. Various plans have to be rigorously implemented and this include escalating efforts in building township economy as this will address poverty and joblessness.
We also need to strengthen efforts to support small businesses to create jobs for millions of the unemployed especially the youth. Youth unemployment in Gauteng is estimated at 2, 7 million young people with some who have graduated from FET and VET colleges and universities. In this regard, we welcome the intervention of the Gauteng Provincial Government through its programme of Tshepo 1 Million. This programme is already providing opportunities for young people with internships, skills and financial support to run their own businesses etc. We also commend the private sector for partnering with government on this programme. We are confident that by 2019 this programme would have benefitted more than 1 million young people in Gauteng.
It is common course that without the requisite skills our economy will not be able to compete in a globalized world. Hence, we need to also strengthen efforts to improve our education system so as our people are skilled appropriately in order that they contribute to growing our economy. The need for skills development can therefore not be overemphasized. Education should therefore remain our apex priority. Government must forge ahead in ensuring that all children has access to education and that children from poor families should also access higher education.
Although we lost two Metros and two local municipalities in Gauteng, we however, won the majority of the wards. We need to utilize this strength to intervene out there in communities. We must not sit back like a traditional opposition party but should continue to take up issues affecting our communities. The Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) is currently finalizing a document that looks at how we can ensure to be effective in opposition.
We have made strides in creating a better life for all our people. Unfortunately, things have gone horribly wrong lately with the ANC being perceived as arrogant, self-serving and embracing corruption and mediocrity. Our people are even turning against their own movement as the crisis we are facing seem to be deepening by the day. One of the issues that has come into sharp focus as having contributed or is contributing to the crisis our movement is in is leadership or lack thereof. As we kick-start the National Policy Conference this week and Elective Conference later this year, it will be important to confront this matter and begin to define our approach to leadership and succession. As an organization, we seem to be approaching this question in a piecemeal manner and this is not assisting in ensuring that this issue does not become divisive every time there are elections. It is about time that we approach this matter strategically as the growth or even survival of any organization depends in no small measure on how leadership and succession are managed.
Given that the succession debate is now officially opened by the NEC, ANC members must seize this opportunity to define leadership and how we manage it within our structures. Rather than we be obsessed with names, we should define the characteristics that a leader of the ANC must possess, the criteria for qualification and how we manage succession. This exercise should be informed by “Through the eye of the needle” document as it contains useful guidelines and also brings objectivity to the equation. It is prudent that we adopt a strategic approach to ensure that the best amongst us are elected to lead.
It is against this backdrop that when we go to Conference, we must elect a leadership that will win the confidence of South Africans beyond just members of the ANC. We should also elect a leadership collective that is composed of different generations (generational mix) including the fearless former exiles, the Class of June 16 and the Indomitable Young Lions. This leadership must be composed of women and men (young and old) of integrity, who will be able to address the challenges facing our organization. They must be leaders who are selfless and lead with humility but brave enough to protect the gains of our revolution. In short, they must lead without fear or favour!
The leadership collective that we must elect must protect the state from various forms of state capture, fight corruption and ensure good governance. This also means that the leadership collective that we elect must not be motivated by self-enrichment but service to our people.
For the sake of our movement and our future, we should avoid factions and slates when we choose leadership. We should rather strive for consensus. In the period leading up to September when nominations will be officially opened, it is important that as comrades we engage each other with the view to influence or be influenced by others. We should not strive for winner-take-all. We should rather strive for a win-win situation as a winner-take-all approach can lead to the destruction of the ANC and this also poses a danger of us losing the 2019 general elections. It is therefore incumbent upon all ANC members to do everything in our power to emerge from that Conference with the leadership that is united behind a common vision and is able to lead our people to the national democratic society. The Gauteng PEC has already started a discussion on the leadership question and will soon share its proposal with the branches.
The challenges that we are facing notwithstanding, the ANC needs to adopt a comprehensive policy on leadership and succession with enforcement measures built in.
We will be failing in our duties if the upcoming conferences are not utilized to change course especially in regard to the leadership question.
When we deal with organizational renewal, we should also restructure and strengthen the Head Office of the ANC so that it becomes a truly strategic centre of power. In that regard there are proposals that other provinces are considering to add more full-time Head of Departments at Luthuli House. Some of these proposals under discussion include the following: position of the 2nd Deputy President and two additional DSGs. These proposals are currently being refined. We should also continue to reform our electoral processes within the ANC. The way we elect our members to be public representatives have in the past created animosity within our ranks. Let us therefore support the proposal to establish a revolutionary electoral college.
The current situation also calls for fresh, innovative responses. We should agree that the ANC cannot hope to respond to the challenges that the country is facing on its own or only with its traditional allies. Now is the time for a concerted effort to reach out to other progressive forces. We have to lead efforts to build a broad front of progressive forces that we share a common transformative vision with. This front should include religious formations, civil society organizations and other social formations. Such a broad front should also welcome other political parties and trade unions that share common principles and agenda with us, especially those who subscribe to the vision as enshrined in the Freedom Charter. This noble initiative will go a long way in mobilising the broad sections of our society behind our historic mission of creating a better life for all our people since these stakeholders have an interest in propelling our country to a higher development trajectory.
This is a moment of reflection on the political situation obtaining in our country. We should do this with the view to not just lament but decisively deal with the ills that afflict our movement.
We should also approach the National Policy Conference (NPC) with the view to continue contributing to saving our movement as the NPC provides all our structures with a perfect platform to not only examine the policy propositions as contained in the draft policy documents but also to chart a concrete way forward. We should ensure that the ANC emerges from the NPC with clear, concise and relevant policies that will reimagine the future of the ANC and our country if we are to remain the leader of society and parliament of the people.
As we engage during the conference, let the interest of our people be our preoccupation. We should be robust, frank and honest in our conversations so as we emerge out of this conference with clear policy proposals that will contribute to bringing the vision of a better life for all to reality. The time is now! Seize the moment!
Paul Mashatile is the Chairperson of the African National Congress in Gauteng.
The African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal has recently concluded a very successful Provincial General Council. The Council was honoured by the presence of the President of our movement , other NEC members, branch delegates, the ANC Leagues, the Alliance and other invited guests. Musa Dladla Region in our Province was a commendable host of the PGC and worked hard to make it visible to all that the ANC was gathering there.
I have no doubt in my mind that as we rise from the PGC, we can all agree that we are more wiser than we were when we met two days ago and therefore ready to advance our policy positions as we go to the National Policy Conference.
Emerging from the Provincial General Council is a contingent of cadres and activists prepared to confront perennial challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. As was asserted by the President, the enemy continues to live and fighting irrespective of whether or not we recognized its permanent presence.
We want to state without any hesitation that, today in our country there is a convergence of forces who share a common short goal which is to remove President Jacob Zuma and ANC, but do not share a common objective on what happens in the aftermath.
That’s what makes these forces to be even more dangerous, illogical and unreliable. Placing any trust on them is very serious risk for future of the people and that of generations to come. Therefore, being a member and a cadre of the movement requires people who are constantly engaged in a study of the revolution, factors that influence it and the role of revolutionaries to shape it in the best interests of our revolutionary cause.
Therefore, the journey does not end here as we rise from the PGC. We need to pay sufficient attention to the state of the organisation and avoid temptation of allowing our individual conduct and desire to tarnish the image and standing of the ANC.
As we said at the start of the PGC, the ANC is a movement and the parliament of the people. It exists solely to serve and service the people. It continued existence is dependent on the trust that people continue to bestow on it. As Moses Kotane once said, “the revolution is about the people and the people can be stolen”. Therefore, we must at all times refuse to project the people’s movement, through our conduct and articulations, as a movement that is self-serving.
We should also never fall prey into a fallacy of thinking that the ANC is immune from natural processes that characterizes any society. All societies do not consist of things, but of processes that brings things into and out of being. This is a dialectical relationship between the cause and effects in society.
The ANC came into being as a result of struggles of the people. If, because of our conduct, people come to the determination, wittingly or unwittingly, that their struggles can best be pursued outside the ANC, the ANC will become irrelevant and eventually cease to exist. When the ANC ceases to exist, the gains of the revolution will be reversed and future generations will, correctly, put the entire blame on our shoulders. At that point people will be stolen.
The motive forces of the National Democratic Revolution remains the working class, rural poor, middle strata who stands to benefit from the continuing struggle to build a National Democratic Society. These forces are characterized as Africans in particular and Blacks in general. As a consequence, all our actions must be directed to the liberation of this important segment of society.
As we continue to navigate through the difficult times facing our movement and the revolution, we must never lose hope even in the face complex circumstances and difficult moments. The ANC President, on the first day of the PGC, took us into the memory lane about what it means to be a cadre of the movement.
The articulation by the President is in line with the teachings of Chairman Mao Zendong that “what is correct inevitably develops in the course of struggle with what is wrong. The true, the good and the beautiful always exists by contrast with the false, the evil and the ugly, and grow in struggle with them. As soon as something erroneous is rejected and a particular truth accepted by mankind, new truths begin to struggle with the new errors. Such struggle will never end.”
As we prosecute the people’s struggle under the ever-changing conditions, we must continue to sharpen our tools of analyses so that we are able to distinguish the trees from woods, weed from flagrant flowers and avoid accrediting the relative with the features of the absolute. This we will do and succeed in doing, if we keep the African National Congress deeply rooted among the masses of our people. There must be no difference between the ANC and the masses of our people, both in thinking and articulation of our aspirations.
As we surge forward with a struggle for radical economic transformation, we must fully appreciate the fact that we pursue a struggle under the conditions characterized by antagonistic contradictions at play.
As observed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the communist manifesto “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…the oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, that each time ended either in the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
While appreciating this fundamental reality, in South African the national question became the primary contradiction to be resolved to attain a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous society. This has always been understood not as the postponement of the class struggle but interconnectedness of the class struggle and the resolution of the national question.
Twenty three years into democracy the uninterrupted battle between the contending classes in South Africa is now an open fight. The oppressor is uncomfortable with the project of radical economic transformation which is an immediate agenda and plight for the oppressed class – as represented by the ANC. This is a permanent war which President Jacob Zuma aptly referred to during his address to this Provincial General Council.
Because of this unending and uninterrupted battle, an economic warfare has been unleashed against the ANC and its government – hence our economy has been put into junk status by the rating agencies. We understand this to be an economic warfare because the decisions to downgrade the economy of our country were taken not on the basis of soundness of our economic policies but on political considerations after the President exercised his constitutional prerogative to re-constitute the cabinet.
We are raising these points so that as revolutionaries we are able to distinguish the challenges of our own making and those brought to us by the objective environment, even if they coincide with our own internal subjective dynamics negatively impacting upon the pace of change.
How are we then expected to understand the sudden desire by some in the congress movement to cooperate with the counter-revolution? As revolution teaches us, a conscious of a person is not determined by a function of a mind but by his/her surrounding objective conditions.
Indeed because of the successes of our revolution, there are some in the movement who have recorded rapid growth in life either as a result of policies of the democratic government or were deliberately and purposely co-opted by the White Monopoly Capital so that it appears to be concerned with African people, while the intention is to serve its agenda. It is these comrades who today have sponsored bravery to tell us that there is no white monopoly capital and that the agenda for radical economic transformation is a reckless agenda that will upset the private capital.
The crippling danger of conformism need to be confronted. Clearly, they are those who see nothing wrong with the current economic status quo and they have pick-bagged on subjective challenges to further their own ambitions. For them any change in the structure of the economy represents adventurism or recklessness. In this context, the pursuit of radical economic transformation should simultaneously include fighting corruption. Both resisting Radical Economic Transformation need to be confronted and uprooted from the movement and all spheres of government.
We have decided to labour on this point so that we all have common understanding of the real challenge we are facing and not fall prey to the agenda sold to us by the enemy.
As we move to the policy conference to be held later this week, we must buttress the project of radical economic transformation with decisiveness and policy positions that will wrestle the economy from the hands of the few white males. We need to move with speed to economically empower the majority of our country – the Africans in particular.
Our Political Overview lifted up some key policy proposals that we need to advance and some those have become the resolutions of this Provincial General Council. Among others, the PGC has agreed on the followings:
We are unanimous in our view that there can be no progress without a strong and united African National Congress,
We are firm and unanimous on the importance of land redistribution without compensation,
We are firm and unanimous on the necessity to advance the Radical Economic Transformation,
We are firm on our view that free and quality education up to the first degree is the correct way to lead the skill revolution and build human capital needed for a developmental state,
We are firm on our position that the renewal of the National Liberation Movement is not an option, but a revolutionary imperative for continued survival of the movement,
We are firm and unanimous that as part of strengthening the Head Quarters, the we will advocate, in addition to other NEC members to be fulltime, for an amendment of the constitution to accommodate the existence of two Deputy Secretaries General, one responsible for Monitoring, Evaluation and Research and another one for Organization Building and Campaigns,
We are committing ourselves to rise above parochial provincial interests if any of them compromises the unity of the ANC,
As the PGC, we are unanimous on the principles that should inform the selection and election of leadership. Revolutionaries are not born but constructed by the struggles of our people, not by positions they hold in the revolution. As KwaZulu-Natal we do not subscribe to the notion the election of a Deputy President implies that that comrade is automatically ordained to be a successor to the incumbent. If it was so they would be no need for elections.
In addition to such an unwritten tradition, the leadership election should be driven by the strategic tasks of that moment and the quality of the available pool of leadership, rather than a supposedly natural selection due to the current leadership position. The assertion that a deputy is an inherent successor to the incumbent is devoid of scientific analysis of the tasks of the current phase of NDR and suitability of leadership quality and character to lead the movement in that phase of the struggle.
If this must be a principle position in the movement then it has to be universally applicable rather self-serving and convenience because of conferences. The leadership must be chosen on the strength of its quality and not the position they hold.
I would like to express our revolutionary gratitude to the ANC Branch delegates, RECs, Leagues and Alliance partners for making the Provincial General Council a resounding success. All of us made a profound statement that the unity of the African National Congress is sacrosanct. I know that all of us are committed to ensure that this undertaking does not become an empty statement.
On our collective shoulders lies a heavy obligation to ensure that future generations do not pass a judgement on us as a contingent of activists who betrayed the undertaking we signed upon joining the ANC. Once again, history and reality impose duty on all of us a revolutionary duty to maintain a dynamic contact with the masses of our people. In this, the Year of Oliver Tambo, let us as KwaZulu-Natal deepen the unity of the movement.
The struggle continues!!!
Sihle Zikalala is the Chairperson of the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal.
The African National Congress (ANC) will, later this year, hold its 54th National Conference, which among others, will elect the national leadership of the organization for a five-year term, assuming that part of the ANC Constitution will not change.
Fortunately, the nominations for the leaders that will be elected are not yet open, so this text (and its author) is unlikely to be misperceived as punting one leader or the other. However, discussing the principles around leadership is encouraged in preparation for nomination time.
In a media statement following the January 2017 Lekgotla, the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) said,
“Branches will hold their BGMs/BAGMs during September and October 2017. In line with the 2016 NGC Resolution that the branch is the basic unit of the ANC, that slates must be outlawed and that serious action must be taken to prevent and deal with the practice of slate, the NEC resolved [to] do away with the practice of consolidating nominations for leadership at a regional and provincial level. Branches must be given the right to nominate. Consolidation at other levels tampers with the authority of the branches to nominate. All nominations for leadership from branches will be consolidated nationally by the Electoral Commission.”
This is a noble and very necessary intervention by the NEC. It will probably be followed by clear guidelines on how the nomination process should unfold. Until then, it seems practically unworkable, desirable as it may be.
Using the current constitution, a branch would have to nominate six national officials plus 80 additional members of the NEC, based on its own wisdom and knowledge of the 86 leaders. Keeping in mind the outlawed slates and that the leaders are unlikely to individually campaign for themselves, it would be interesting to see how a single branch, without consolidating at a zonal/regional or any level, would compile its nomination. As suggested earlier, the nomination guidelines will probably clear this, when they are issued.
The ANC National Conferences are preceded by the National Policy Conferences where there are in-depth discussions on policy priorities for the organization and draft resolutions for the National Conferences to consider, plus discuss further, for final resolution.
As such it is never considered necessary that leaders express their own priorities, outside of agreed resolutions, in order to be nominated for national leadership. It is assumed that the elected national collective will implement the resolutions agreed by the National Conference.
Given the irrelevance of stating a preferred leader’s priorities, lobbyists of various leaders have, in the past, relied on that leader’s past and resultant accumulated character traits to suggest why branches should nominate the said preferred leader.
Often times, lobbyists have ascribed various priorities to their preferred leaders as part of campaigning for their election. Oddly, the said leaders usually do not explicitly own up to whatever their lobbyist ascribes to them. As such, those leaders, once elected, may not be held accountable for the commitments made by their lobbyists on their behalf or in their name. Failures, where identified, are owned collectively.
Evidence since 1994 suggests that each elected national collective implements Conference resolutions with varying focus. This is probably due to a combination of subjective and objective factors which result in some resolutions being implemented faster than others, and some resolutions left unimplemented, or the speed of implementation thereof is extremely slow.
The struggle credentials and the service delivery record of potential leaders may no longer be sufficient to suggest that a leader will deliver on the immediate interest the ANC branches, and society in general, may have.
In this regard, the ANC 5th National Policy Conference Discussion Document on Organisational Renewal (PCDDOR) proposes that;
“The ANC nominations and election processes must be reviewed to allow for open contestation with provisions for the membership to engage the candidates.”
However, the PCDDOR advances this proposal more to address the challenges of divisive factionalism, rather than accountability, which is the point that this author is arguing.
Preceding this proposal, the PCDDOR acknowledges thus;
“This reality has resulted into the manipulation of branch processes to be geared towards achieving pre-determined outcome in terms of the elections of leadership in various conferences. (sic)”
This is evidently contrary to popular rhetoric, which all factions advance, that the 2001 NWC Discussion Document titled “Through the Eye of the Needle” is the filter with which leadership is chosen.
Rather than “Through the Eye of the Needle”, the branches are presented with pre-selected lists from which they have to blindly choose, as there is never a clear distinction in the delivery priorities or policy approaches of either list. Thus, through the garage door, branches blindly choose from the pre-selected.
It is common knowledge that the national leadership is elected for a 5-year term. Hence the candidates, once nominations open, should present convincing arguments on what they will do in their 5 year term, with clear timelines upon which they would be held accountable by the ANC NEC and the ANC branches through the ANC (mid-term) National General Council.
The intended delivery, and timelines should be clear enough to make it possible to tell achievement of the targets from the failure to achieve those targets.
The revolutionary sounding rhetoric of radical economic transformation, and the brilliance of pointing out challenges, causes and magnitude of unemployment, inequality and poverty are grossly insufficient as reasons to be elected. Equally inadequate is the enthusiasm in identifying opponents of the National Democratic Revolution, and/or their allies, either internally, domestically or internationally.
The commitments candidates make should, as far as possible, include how they are going to achieve those commitments. It should not longer be enough for any prospective leader to promise free education, without clarifying how that would be achieved within the prevailing fiscal constraints. The ANC members should refuse to be led by leaders who do not have the foresight to know that their commitments are unachievable.
It is common knowledge that the global balance of forces are likely to worsen and the global economic growth will remain stagnant. A candidate should not make unreasonable commitments with the hope to blame rating agencies, or other external factors, for the failure to achieve those commitments.
Our 23 years in governance ought to be evident in how practical are the commitments the candidates make. Relying on collective ownership of failures may no longer be enough to convince the voters that we have appreciation of the trust they entrust us through their hard-won vote.
ANC members, and volunteers, would have the conviction to later go on a door to door campaign to explain the commitments, convinced on how those commitments would be achieved.
This is not a proposal for a departure from collective leadership or from ignoring policy decisions adopted by Conference. It is a suggestion that candidates should state the priorities they will focus on in their 5 year term, together with their collective, so that the Conference do not just blindly choose based on the struggle credentials or CV alone. They have to know that the program resonates with the branches and communities which they represent at the Conference.
The proposal made in the PCDDOR for candidates to be engaged by the membership is not entirely new to the ANC. It is already happening with the ANC nominees for local government candidature in each ward. It is only fair and sensible that a level as important as the President, and the entire national collective, should not be left to chance.
Bayanda Mzoneli is a member of the ANC King Nyabela Mahlangu Branch (Ward 5) in Tshwane Region.
It is an immense honour to share brief remarks on the life of a man who ranks among the pantheon of this generation’s most venerated leaders. The life of Comrade Herman Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo exemplifies the oft-quoted ideal that asks that we ‘lead by example’.
In reflecting on this remarkable life, I am reminded of another such leader who made an indelible impact on history.
In August of 1958, Martin Luther King Junior preached a sermon meditating on the question ‘what is man?’, which he believed to be “one of the most important questions confronting any generation”.
From these reflections stemmed forth one of King’s most iconic quotes, stating that:
‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’.
Indeed, the character of Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo’s life was defined by where he stood ‘at times of challenge and controversy’: always choosing the side of the oppressed and refusing complicity with the morally degenerate system of apartheid.
We are poorer for this immense loss, felt not only in Namibia, but in South Africa and across the continent of Africa. Such is the effect of the life of one who extended his activist humanity across the lines of the borders constructed between us.
On days like these, a complex cocktail of emotions overtakes our hearts and minds. As we collectively grieve the passing of a beloved friend, family member, comrade and struggle icon, we are invited to take measure of his remarkable life.
Such an inducement requires us to recall the thematic arc that shaped his days on earth and is simultaneously a motivation to continue the journey that defined his activism and just ethos.
While we are immensely saddened by the passing of Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo, we celebrate his life and longevity: encouraged by the lessons we take forward in continuing his legacy.
The lauded English author, Terry Pratchett, once stated:
‘‘No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…’
What Pratchett reveals, is the indelible imprint left by those whose lives become emblematic of the highest characteristics of the human condition.
There are indeed monuments that bear his name: the MV Ya Toivo ship; Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Senior Secondary School and the dining hall at the St Mary’s Mission School. These physical structures ensure that his name stays in our consciousness. But there is more to memory than name alone, and it requires monuments beyond brick, steel and stone.
Our lives too, can serve as living memorials of Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo’s legacy, as we ensure that the ripples of his life swell the souls of those who have devoted their life to affecting change that is dedicated to social justice, and emboldened by a humanist consciousness.
In our attempts to do so, we are required to recall the vision and ideals that inspired his commitment to improving both the human condition and the material lives of the oppressed.
Ovamboland’s son trained as a carpenter in his early years. In reflecting on this, a metaphoric angle appears between his interest in such a trade and the activism that would overtake his daily life.
Some people are gifted with the ability to both see the reality in front of them, and imagine the transformed shape that it could take in future.
For Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo, a piece of wood was a potential table or chair, in the same way that an oppressive reality held within it the possibility of liberation from its shackles.
A commitment to such a visionary existence requires remarkable fidelity to an alternate vision for the future.
While there are less obstacles that lie in the way of changing the condition of a piece of wood as opposed to the material conditions of an oppressive society, they both require the acknowledgement that such change is both possible and that your own hand has a role to play in its achievement.
Such a society awaited Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo when he reached South Africa in 1951. However, rather than shying away from the commitments necessary to alter its conditions, he quickly joined a trade union and political movements, including the Modern Youth Society (MYS) and the African National Congress, belonging to the same branch as luminaries such as Denis Goldberg, Albie Sachs and Sandi Sijake.
Due to South Africa’s Mandate from the League of Nations following the defeat of Namibia’s colonising power, Germany, in the First World War, this Mandate, which was given to South Africa to help Namibia prepare for its independence, was betrayed as South Africa reneged on this undertaking as it sought to enhance its power through perpetual overlordship of Namibia. In this way black Namibians came under South Africa’s political oppression and thus shared similar political experience with oppressed South Africans.
In this way, comrade Toivo Ya Toivo was one of us: dedicated to the interconnected struggles for liberation in both his native Namibia, and on our soil. He exemplifies the profoundly humanist act of understanding our connection to our nations’ journeys across borders.
The actions that accompany such an understanding would lead to his imprisonment on Robben Island for sixteen years – becoming Namibia’s longest serving political prisoner, under Apartheid.
In ‘The State vs Tuhadeleni and 36 others’, Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo, accused No. 21.’, was convicted of treason under the Terrorism Act and the Suppression of Communism Act – which were retrospectively amended to try the Namibians under the depraved South African legal system.
Held incommunicado under section 6 of the Terrorism Act which allowed for 180 days of detention without trial, Toivo Ya Toivo and his 36 fellow detainees were subjected to the severest torture imaginable by the security police who were guaranteed immunity as well as unfettered and unchecked powers.
Upon entering prison, Toivo Ya Toivo is quoted as saying “the struggle will be long and bitter,” but “I also know that my people will wage that struggle, whatever the cost.” He intimately knew what we now retrospectively discern: while the cost might be great, the rewards of following the most honourable path are even greater.
There are many words that have been used to describe him: steadfast, resolute, and iconic. Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo possessed an incisive mind, sharp tongue and unshakable spirit. When speaking of him, his fellow prisoners often attest to his unfaltering character.
Even when incarcerated and facing the brutal conditions on Robben Island, Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo refused to participate in the prison classification system – despite the fact that it might have mitigated the severity of his experience.
He chose, instead, to continue on the path he set out on when he spoke from within the courthouse that imprisoned him – rebutting that the South African government had legitimacy over him and his fellow Namibians through his defiant actions on the island.
Participation in a rotten system based on moral bankruptcy was inconceivable for a man who built his life and character on the highest of ethical principles.
Fellow prisoner, Former President Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying:
“He didn’t care to be promoted and he wouldn’t co-operate with the authorities at all in almost everything…He was quite militant”.
These contemporaries, Nelson Mandela and Toivo Ya Toivo, were united not only in their shared prison days on Robben Island, but also in their resolute commitment to the ideals that they were willing to die for.
They stand elevated in our consciousness, forever held in high regard amongst those who refuse to accept the status quo and are willing to break their backs and risk their lives to see a new dawn – even when to others it simply appears to be an ever-receding horizon; a mirage; an impossibility.
Part of doing justice to the memory of men and women of this order, however, is allowing their humanity to include a requisite complexity in the narratives that we build in their honour.
While worthy of veneration, during their time on earth they asked that we not commit them to the ranks of saints, nor view them above the fallibility of our human condition.
Like Mandela, Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo noted that the difference is in our commitment to working on our faults and amending our flaws. He is quoted as saying:
“Progress is something we shall have to struggle and work for. And I believe that the only way in which we shall be able and fit to secure that progress is to learn from our own experience and mistakes.”
Indeed, he reached the pinnacle of such progress, in political terms. The founder and Secretary General of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) saw his dream of liberation from South African rule realised in 1990. Incidentally the dawn of Namibian freedom was on the 21 of March 1990, exactly 30 years after the Sharpeville Massacre!
In these troubled times, where unity of the African people is of prime importance yet, ironically, xenophobia continues to be a scourge blighting our connection to each other, it is critical to remember that our fellow Africans both lived under apartheid’s policies, ruled by its oppressive prescripts and suffering similar human rights violations, and were committed to our struggle for liberation.
These are the times of which we are reminded of Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo’s pan-Africanist ethos, which requires that we consider both what shape unity will take on our continent, and what it demands from us in embarking on a shared vision for Africa’s future.
Our destinies have long being indivisible. This future is unmistakably a shared one which will take a concerted effort to attain.
The peoples of South Africa and Namibia are thus irrevocably connected. As the great Oliver Tambo once remarked, speaking to SWAPO:
“by your actions you have forged bonds of unity between yourselves and us, the people of Namibia and the people of South Africa – bonds of brotherhood and comradeship, forged in blood, and for that reason indissoluble. This was also demonstrated by the incarceration together of the leaders of our Revolution amongst them Herman Toivo Ya Toivo.”
Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo will be remembered as a freedom fighter who was committed to achieving better conditions for his fellow Namibians and South Africans: a man not obsessed with achieving rank in society, but on improving society such that the experience of equality and freedom is afforded to all, regardless of position.
His life was lived with a servant-leadership ethos that permeated through every space and political office that he occupied.
In the general conduct of the struggle for human freedom there are generally two categories of fighters; those who stay the course and those who betray the course. Toivo Ya Toivo fell in the category of freedom fighters who were steeled by the struggle. His life is better captured by the following memorable passage from the novel Steel and Slag by the Russian writer Popov:
‘In the heat of struggle, men become men of steel or disintegrate into cowards and traitors to end on the slag heap’.
My deepest condolences go to the family of Comrade Toivo Ya Toivo; to his comrades; and the Namibian nation. Please know that today, your loss is ours.
Across two countries, Toivo Ya Toivo proved that no condition is ever stagnant. No reality is too overwhelming to imagine change. Even posthumously, he reminds us that above all things, there is always possibility for change.
It is meaningful that his name translates as “hope of hope” in its Finnish origin. While we mourn today we are uplifted by the knowledge that, as comrade Toivo Ya Toivo himself showed, the role of leaders is to define reality and give hope.
Kgalema Motlanthe is the Former President of the Republic of South Africa and Former Deputy President of the African National Congress
The African National Congress is heading towards its 5th National Policy Conference scheduled for the 30 June – 5 July 2017. The principal purpose of a Policy Conference is to review policies and to assess their adequacy in realising our political and socio-economic goals.
Informed by our liberation character and the fact that the ANC represents an instrument of struggle in the hands of the people, the ANC consciously makes its policy documents public in order for them to be scrutinised by all. As the ANC, we further engage on an extensive consultation of society, so that we arrive at policy decisions, which are most informed, widely supported and most astute to move South Africa forward.
Despite some contestation, one cannot dispute the fact that the majority of South Africans continue to identify with and desire a united, credible, coherent and decisive African National Congress. Consequently, the basis of our membership, as individuals to this Congress movement provides us with an individual and collective obligation to be true servants of the people.
It, therefore, goes without saying that the credibility deficit, in particular, the credibility and trustworthiness leadership of the ANC is proving to be the core threat to the movement and the revolution. Today it has become rather common for the people not to trust or believe what the ANC leader is saying and this is a danger.
In all our engagements, South Africans do acknowledge that the political breakthrough has directly produced a substantially better society with material opportunities for a better life for all. However, despite massive progress in transforming society, vast sections of our society are still considerably dissatisfied with their unchanging conditions. The triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality remains a key feature of our society which must be progressively addressed.
It is for this reason among many that the ANC must act with the necessary courage and decisiveness to put forward strategies to redeem the credibility and integrity of the movement. In simple terms we say, the ANC must aspire to inspire before it expires.
Principally, in the history of the ANC, one of the defining features of the movement for its survival and continued relevance over past 105 years of struggle – it has been its ability to transform moments of crisis to opportunities of deeper scrutiny and renewal of its machinery, approach and practices.
We argue that even today, we must internalise these lessons and act in accordance. In the main, these proposals are meant to strengthen organisational systems to ensure confidence, integrity and credibility of our decision making as being truly based on the will of the people.
What is emerging strongly is that while the majority of South Africans are content with ANC policies, however, the matter of leadership and/or the manner of selecting such leadership is becoming a defining aspect.
In this regard, the movement has taken bold strides towards deepening democracy and public participation in decision-making, with particular reference to the election of public representatives. As an expression of this, the ANC correctly decided to consciously involve communities in nominating prospective Councillors towards Local Government Elections last year. Indeed, the participation of communities in the selection of public representatives produced its own set of challenges in implementation. However, the significance of this decision far outweighs its challenges, as the people now directly decide on who must represent them.
The 2017 discussion document on Strategy and Tactics identifies four areas in which the integrity of the ANC, as an organisation, needs to be enhanced and central amongst these is the question of leadership integrity. The document argues that the criteria and processes of selecting ANC leaders should be enhanced to ensure the integrity of the outcomes of the ANC’s leadership selection processes. The 2017 policy discussion document on Organisational Renewal takes this discussion further by stating that “There is apparent manipulation of branch processes to be geared towards achieving a pre-determined outcome in terms of the elections of leadership in various conferences”.
The discussion document on Organisational Renewal in this regard proposes the establishment of a Revolutionary Electoral Commission to run the ANC electoral process as a semi-autonomous electoral agency of the ANC. In line with this proposal, there is a radical proposal that all the members of the ANC in good standing must directly elect their preferred leaders at all levels of ANC structures, rather than for this task to be delegated to few representatives of the branch in conferences.
The ANC Constitution in defining the character of the ANC states that “Its policies are determined by the membership, and its leadership is accountable to the membership in terms of the procedures laid down in this Constitution”; The Constitution further gives each member a right to: “Take a full and active part in the discussion, formulation and implementation of the policies of the ANC” and a right to “Take part in elections and be elected or appointed to any committee, structure, commission or delegation of the ANC”. All these clauses in the Constitution inter alia define the character of the ANC as mass organisation with members located directly the centre of ANC programmes and processes.
The Through the Eye of a Needle’ document, which is the political basis for the movement’s approach to electing leadership declares this responsibility as a function of members. Thus it asserts that: “The selection and election of leaders should reside firmly in the hands of the membership. This can only happen if there is an open and frank discussion on these issues in formal structures of the movement. Quiet and secret lobbying opens the movement to opportunism and even infiltration by forces hostile to the ANC’s objectives”. The document goes on to describe a ‘delegate’ as someone who “understands and pursues the principles and objectives of the ANC and is capable of “weighing various arguments and act in the best interest of the movement”.
Indeed it is fair to say if things happened in the manner in which the document describes them, then the ANC would not be dealing with a credibility crisis. Moreover, if the ANC is the property of its members, then it follows that its members must determine its course. It must also be said that whether the ANC elects to remain in the path of realising its historical mission or betray it – this must be within the full determination of its members rather than to become a self-preserving shifting of blame.
In the ANC, the leadership of the organisation resides with its members both in form and content; it is the members who decide the programme of action and which leaders to elect. In modern society, the conditions of struggle have improved, and systems and technology have also vastly improved. In the past maybe the practicality of each member voting compelled the ANC to opt for the indirect voting system but the systems available today can permit for every member of the ANC to vote directly. This proposal will amongst other things guarantee the centrality of members in determining the leadership of the ANC so that the ANC can remain rooted within its members for decision-making.
Our rallying call has always been “All power to the people”, and now that it is practical to give members all the power, there appears to be no compelling reason as to why ANC members cannot, in their entirety, determine their leadership. This may, of course, attract more people to be active members of the ANC, as they would be aware that they are effectively deciding the future of the country and therefore checks and balances can be introduced by making use of audits among other instruments. However, the baseline for winning elections on the basis of people’s choice is politically highly attractive.
Further justification of this proposal is that the current political environment, characterised by heightening ‘factionalism’, ‘slate politics’ coupled with what we consider as the ‘sins of incumbency’, has created conditions that are degenerative and act to undermine the integrity of the movement. As such defeating factionalism has become an urgent task if the authority of the organisation has to be re–affirmed, otherwise it is a cancer which will capture and paralyse the organisation to its eternal death.
In conclusion, the 2017 discussion document on Strategy and Tactics states that “The fundamental issue is that, without a decisive programme to correct the debilitating [internal] weaknesses, the ANC faces the danger of losing the core attributes that afforded it the responsibility and privilege to act as leader of society”. We note that it is also true that the implementation of these progressive proposals will not necessarily be an all-round remedy for the challenges facing the movement. We, however, believe that they will express a decisive and progressive departure from the past while retaining our strategic political vision of transforming society. Lastly, the 2017 discussion document on Strategy and Tactics encourages us that “To implement strategic interventions of re-engineering, renewal and regeneration – consistently and without fear or favour – extraordinary courage and determination are required.
Indeed let all ANC members practically say Amandla Ngawethu!
Oscar Mabuyane is the ANC Provincial Secretary in Eastern Cape
Floor crossing is a system where a parliamentarians votes against their party mandate or moves to another party without losing their seats in parliament. It is a Westminster system has its origin from British House of Commons and was also adopted in various countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and even South Africa.
Some authors who are pro-floor crossing asserts that unlike developing democracies, mature and stable democracies are more tolerant of floor crossing because there is no need to restrict it for the sake of political stability. They argue that matured democracies appreciates freedom of parliamentarians as a matter of democratic principle where parliamentarians derives mandate from the people not political parties. However, those who are against the system argues that it is a betrayal to the voters and reduces the capacity of a political party to advance its policy positions and thus leading to loss of public confidence in political parties. The system has a potential to disrupt effective and efficient political party practices which will ultimately weaken the overall democratic system in the country and negatively affect the democratic stability of the country. The anti-floor crossing views the system as an enabler to patron clientelism in politics where political parties with resources lures members from small parties with promise of lucrative positions.
In 2002, South African Parliament passed the ‘floor-crossing act’, Act No. 22 of 2002. The Act amongst others, allowed members of a political party to leave the party under which they were elected in the previous elections, and either form a new party or join an existing party, without forfeiting their seats. In addition, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Fourth Amendment Bill, 2002, passed into law in February 2003, permitted members of the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures to change their commitment from one party to another, regardless of the fact that the members would have been elected on political party lists. Various political parties were against the system arguing that members of Parliament (MP) are elected by proportional representation, and are nominated by political parties on a closed party list before a general election. Voters thus vote for a political party rather not for an individual MP. There is no independent candidate in Parliament.
Some leaders of various political parties in South Africa labelled floor crossing as “an absolute mockery of parliamentary democracy and results in deception, suspicion, accusation and cheque-book politics”. Those who crossed the floor to other parties at some stage were labelled “crosstitutes”. United Democratic Movement (UDM) was a resolute campaigner against floor crossing system. The UDM unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of floor crossing system. Around April 2003 after 4 UDM MP’s used their conscience and crossed the floor, the leader of the party said “he felt betrayed by the defections of his senior leadership. The decision to challenge the floor-crossing legislation had been almost unanimous in his caucus.” On 15 January 2006 IFP leader Buthelezi said: “Floor-crossing is like the HI virus because it robs the political system of all honour, holding political parties hostage by rendering them unable to discipline their own members. It allows the emergence of careerists, self-serving politicians, which are a very strange breed because they do not honour the sanctity of the vote cast in the ballot box”. I submit that this argument also meant that MP’s cannot be voted through a political party in parliament and decides on their own what to do in parliament and not take mandate from their political parties. In case they decide to abandon their party mandate as part of their conscience they must forfeit their seats.
Floor-crossing is physical abandoning of the Party that brought the MP to parliament and joining another Party but not returning the votes back to the Party. The MP that crossed the flow continue to enjoy parliament perks but not carrying a mandate of the Party that brought him / her to Parliament. It was abolished after the ANC 2007 conference resolved against floor crossing and President Kgalema Motlanthe assented to the constitutional amendment on 6 January 2009.
Is the call for MP’s not to be dictated by party mandate when voting not a revised floor-crossing system? Are the current MP’s not in parliament as per political party list therefore deriving their mandates from their political parties? It is my submission that abandoning party mandate when voting in parliament as an MP is a temporary floor crossing which was labelled a mockery of our democracy by those who were opposing floor crossing and is a system practice by crosstitutes. A call for voting by conscience might be a call to a revised floor-crossing system that was campaigned against by UDM and other political parties.
Member of ANC and SACP
(Writing in personal capacity)
The African National Congress (ANC) in the Northern Cape recently concluded its Special Provincial General Council (PGC) in the town of Kimberly, Northern Cape.
Taking place as it did during Youth Month, the PGC began by paying homage to the youth of 1976- whose sacrifices are the cornerstone for the freedom that we enjoy today.
The special PGC took place during a very significant year, when we celebrate the centenary of the birth OR Tambo. OR was a great giant of our struggle, who never betrayed or compromised the course of struggle. He stands out in the world as one of the finest leaders of revolutionary movements that spearheaded the liberation of oppressed masses. What are the attributes and skills that made OR distinct? OR’s capacity to manage contradiction in the movement sustained his leadership. He had deep and incisive understanding on how best to manage contradictions both inside and outside the movement.
Just in six months from now, we will be holding our 54th National Conference in Gauteng. The Special PGC therefore had a responsibility to discuss and finalise policy matters that will be put before the 54th national conference. Those are policies that will take the country forward towards achieving our strategic objective of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
On behalf of the PEC I want to thank the Policy Sub-committee and the Political Education Team for developing our provincial perspective and for conducting training for the ANC branches on the discussion documents.
It is also important to mention that the Special PGC also took place at the backdrop of our 08th Provincial Conference that took place in Colesberg. It goes without saying that the conference was an overwhelming success and a watershed conference of the ANC in the Northern Cape. It had the highest number of participating branches and the highest number of voting delegates. This alone reflects that the ANC is a growing organisation. We are in a post-conference dispensation now, and each and everyone’s effort should be directed at building the movement.
Over the past two weeks the PEC convened Special Regional Conferences in all five regions. The Special RGCs were successful and the newly elected PEC was warmly welcomed by all ANC structures in the province. However, we picked up some post-conference tendencies, which are based on the response of comrades to the 08th Provincial conference. I think it will be important to reflect on these tendencies, as this was the first PGC after the 08th Provincial Conference.
The first tendency is derived from comrades I generally categorise as mourners. Mourners are comrades who decided to engage in perpetual mourning after the 08th Provincial Conference. The mourners derive their strengths from a false belief that some post-conference miracle will happen that will lead to the nullification of the 08th Provincial Conference, and consequently the dissolution of this PEC. Based on this false belief they want to weaken this PEC and the ANC in the province.
The second tendency is derived from comrades I generally categorise as triumphalists. The triumphalists are over-excited about the conference outcome and thereby seek to marginalise and undermine those who had a different leadership preference. These comrades make it their business to always remind those who had a different leadership preference towards the conference of the outcomes of the conference and to rub it in their faces that their preference did not emerge. In a politically shallow and disconcerting manner, the triumphalists expects this PEC to embark on a vicious programme of factional cleansing, which involves targeting and hunting down everyone that did not support the leadership perspective that produced this PEC.
The third tendency is derived from comrades I generally categorise as builders. This tendency is from comrades who strongly feel that the 08th Provincial Conference came and it is gone. Disregarding their own personal views, these comrades accept that there is leadership collective that was produced by the conference, the conference is over and the work of building the movement must commence. The comrades that fall in this category serve as a nucleus of our work to build the movement.
As the PEC we have a message to each of these categories of comrades. To the mourners, we want to say that the time for mourning is over, we must pick up the pieces and start the work of building our movement. But for those who feel that they want to fight and discredit this PEC, we welcome that invitation. This PEC has adequate capacity to defend itself and the ANC in the province. To the triumphalists, we want to say that the time for self-adulation and over-excitement is over, the work of building the movement have started. To the builders, we want to say that you are our partners and you constitute the foundation and cornerstone of our work to build a strong, vibrant and dynamic movement in the province. So comrades, we call on everyone inside here to be builders, let us stop mourning and let us stop being over-excited.
We also had an opportunity to engage with all ANC MPLs in the ANC caucus. The PEC want to apologise to the people of the Northern Cape, our members and our comrades that were affected by the reshuffling and the reversal thereof, comrades Sandra Beukes, Gail Parker, Bongiwe Mbinqo, Ntsikelelo Mac Jack, Pauline Williams and Mxolisi Sokatsha. This adventurist mishandling of the deployment process was the worst embarrassing episode in the post-1994 politics of the ANC in the province. We hope and commit to never again expose our province to such an embarrassment.
We used both the RGCs and the ANC Legislature Caucus to communicate both our objectives and processes. We did this, because we value organisational stability. There should be no uncertainty about what this PEC stands for, and there should be no poor management of the organisation from our side.
The objectives of this current PEC, flowing from the 08th Provincial Conference can be generally summarised as THREE DANGERS AND FOUR IMPERATIVES. The THREE DANGERS AND FOUR IMPERATIVES are the beacons that will guide our work for the next four years. The THREE DANGERS are things that we must avoid in both our conduct and articulation. If we fail to avoid them, the organisation will become a political wasteland and will be punished in the 2019 General Elections. These are:
- THE FIRST DANGER IS DISUNITY: in whatever we do, we must avoid disunity within our ranks. To address the current challenges confronting the movement we need an organisation that is characterised by internal cohesion. Disunity will polarise our movement, and nobody will benefit from such an outcome.
- THE SECOND DANGER IS THE HAMMERING OF THE ANC IMAGE: in whatever we do at all times as members and leaders of the ANC, we must ensure that we protect the pristine image of our movement and fight the abuse of the ANC brand. As we convene this Special PGC, our movement is guttered in scandals, and our primary responsibility is to mitigate the impact thereof and not worsen the crisis.
- THE THIRD DANGER IS THE VAST SOCIO-ECONOMIC INEQUALITIES IN THE PROVINCE: in whatever we do, we need to introduce focused programmes to eradicate socio-economic inequalities in the province. We have about 43 percent unemployment in the province, this figure includes the discouraged jobseekers. Effectively meaning that every second person we meet in the streets is unemployed. 40 percent of households in the province are poor. So we need to avoid poor planning that disadvantages the poor.
The FOUR IMPERATIVES are things that we need to urgently do to ensure that we move the province forward, we build a strong, vibrant and dynamic movement. The four imperatives are:
- THE FIRST IMPERATIVE IS BUILDING UNITY: unity of the movement is sacrosanct and cannot be compromised. We must dedicate all our energies and creativeness to building unity in the province. Without unity the movement will die in our hands. Our call for unity must not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness in the current PEC. As part of building unity within our ranks this PEC will fight post-conference purging and dishing of patronage. We will fight targeting of comrades because of the views they held towards the 08th Provincial Conference. The tendency of targeting comrades because of their leadership preferences before the 08th Provincial Conference is showing its ugly head, I want to make it clear to this Special PGC that we will fight dispensing of patronage and targeting of comrades with everything that we have. This is a fight we are not going to retreat on.
- THE SECOND IMPERATIVE IS THE STRENGTHENING OF THE INTERFACE: with regard to this matter we had a bad start and there is much greater need to focus our energies to strengthening the interface between the ANC and government. The interface is managed through two processes. The first process is through political guidance and support by the ANC to comrades that are deployed to strategic positions. The second process is management of political mandate. The process of giving political mandates tends to be the most abused. Political mandates on strategic matters are derived from Amaqhawe House and directed to strategically deployed comrades. Any other so-called ‘mandate’ that does not originate from Amaqhawe House is a trading-off. We know about this new tendency were comrades deployed are expected to extend favours to each other, in some departments its even called ‘exchange programmes’. This is crude abuse of the process of deployment and as the PEC we will expose and fight this tendency.
- THE THIRD INMPERATIVE IS CADRE DEVELOPMENT: cadres are the most advanced elements of the revolution and are the backbone of our movement. These are members of the movement with ideological and administrative discipline, who knows and practices democratic centralism and collective leadership. The 53rd National Conference resolved to dedicate 2012 – 2022 as a ‘Decade of a Cadre’. We must urgently build on this programme as there is only five years left.
- THE FOURTH IMPERATIVE IS FIGHTING CORRUPTION: corruption robs the poor and as the PEC we openly declare our commitment to fight corruption in all its manifestation.
We hope that all our members and structures will commit themselves to these objectives.
As a prelude to the engagements by the Special PGC on the draft policy documents, let me start by raising the argument that the ANC is a ‘collective intellectual organ’. This argument follows Antonio Gramsci’s assertion that political parties play an intellectual role in society. He argues that parties as institutions produce knowledge, as the party is composed of intellectuals who act collectively to define the kind of society that the party intends to build and craft appropriate strategies on how to build that society.
The ANC led movement has over the past 105 years played intellectual role in defining the kind of society that we envisioned as a ‘national democratic society’ (NDS). The NDS is the destination. The intellectual role also includes the ANC defining the kind of vehicle that we will use to reach that destination, which is the ‘national democratic revolution’ (NDR). The immediate impact of the NDR is to reverse the three interrelated contradiction (race, class and gender) of ‘colonialism of a special type’ (CST).
The intellectual work by the ANC has often provided hope for something different. This was especially significant in periods when the organisation was going through difficult times as was the case at the time of the Act of the Union and when major leadership figures of the broader alliance where sentenced to the Robben Island.
What South Africans expect now is that the intellectual work in the ANC must be able to rescue the ANC from the present day difficulties and tribulations that confront the us. In all the nine discussion documents there is sincere acknowledgement that the ANC is on a brink of a precipice. The movement has lost its moral compass and has receded moral leadership of our country to forces, which are hostile to our historic mission. So comrades we should be multidimensional, truthful and honest about our challenges. If we do so, the tragedy of the state of our organisation will bring new opportunities.
In May this year, the South African Council Churches (SACC), which is our historic ally, in their report on the state of South Africa, rightly or wrongly argues that South Africa is gravitating towards a mafia state. As if that was not enough, a group of erstwhile academics, develop a case and argue that the there is a shadow state in South Africa. And more recently the so called Guptaleaks puts a heavy strain on the battered image of the ANC, as almost every week there are leaks that implicates senior leaders of the ANC in the parasitic capitalist network of the Gupta family.
At the face of such an assault on our movement, there can be no self-respecting member or leader of the ANC that can assume a position of neutrality. We are called upon to take a stand to defend our movement and leaders from capture. When we execute our collective intellectual role today, we have to pose difficult questions on how to rescue our movement from degeneration and the tentacles of capture?
We have to further ask ourselves whether the current organisational structure of the ANC is adequate to strengthen its capacity? As the Northern Cape we must be a vessel of fresh and sometimes very controversial ideas on how to prosecute the revolution under the current political environment.
The 53rd National Conference resolved that the organisational structure of the ANC must be in line with the five pillars of struggle. We should therefore interrogate the current structure. This will entail questions on whether the structure of the NEC (top six and 80 members) and the Xuma-styled National Working Committee are appropriate for greater effective functioning of the party. The Xuma-styled working committee is of no great assistance in the functioning of the NEC, its just an unnecessary appendage and a mini-NEC constituted by NEC members with no specific tasks. With the current challenges confronting the movement we need to consider restructuring the working committee into a Revolutionary Council with task-assigned members.
The Revolutionary Council must be directly elected by the National Conference and be constituted by the President, two Deputy Presidents, Secretary General, three Deputy Secretary Generals, National Chairperson and Treasurer General.
The two Deputy Presidents will be tasked-assigned one for National Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and one for International Relations. The three Deputy Secretary Generals will also be task-assigned as follows: one for campaigns and membership, one for cadre development and discipline inspection and one for battle of ideas. This structure will ensure that all five pillars of struggle are embedded in the Revolutionary Council. Members of the Revolutionary Council will be required to report on their work to the NEC on quarterly basis.
The proposal to do away with the current form of the NWC will sound laughable and odd to those who developed rigid attitudes to existing structures and systems. Taking into cognisance the challenges that the organisation is confronted with, renewal of the ANC requires odd thinking. The reason why we can’t conclude the debate on provincial governments is because of our rigid attitudes that makes us comfortable with existing structures and systems. The reality of the situation is that provincial governments are fiscus guzzlers and go against our historic mission of a unitary state. I argue that the best model for South Africa is to have provinces as administrative centres, this is the position which the ANC presented during the CODESA negotiation in 1993. The establishment of provincial governments was a compromise, and we must revisit this matter.
The 2012 Strategy and Tactics characterises the current conjecture as the second phase of the revolution. The 2012 Strategy and Tactics asserts that central to the second phase of the transition is radical socio-economic transformation. The ANC did not stumble on the notion of radical socio-economic transformation with the advent of the Gupta scandals. Economic transformation is a political imperative in the country. This includes fighting monopoly capital as it stifles competition and growth in the economy. Whether it is black, white or yellow monopoly capital, it remains monopoly capital and has the same economic impact in society. So as the province we must not fall victims to the quicksand of ideological confusion planted by Bell Pottinger, the Gupta Public Relations Consultant. Our historic enemy is monopoly capital, whether white, black or yellow.
The ANC strategic posture to capital is that of unity and struggle (cooperation and contestation). We need capital to grow a vibrant, modern and dynamic economy that creates jobs, at the same time we must fight the excesses of capital, such as inequitable distribution of income, environmental degradation, exploitation, collusion on prices etc.
There are myriad of issues that the nine policy documents are dealing with, and this is just a brief reflection. In the commissions we expect delegates to this Special PGC to robustly engage with those issues and consolidate the position of the province. As we discuss our policy proposals and prepare for the National Policy Conference and the 54th National Conference in December, we should not lose sight of the fact that maintaining the unity of the ANC is paramount. Unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded.
Let the festival of ideas begin and flourish!!!
Zamani Saul is the Provincial Chairperson of the ANC in the Northern Cape