By Greg Alexander Mashaba
ANC Top 6: (From Left to Right) Jesse Duarte, Gwede Mantashe, Baleka Mbete, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Zweli Mkhize
The Battle For Control Of The Anc Lies At The Heart Of The Contestation Between The Struggle For Radical Economic Transformation And The Retention Of Neo-Liberal Control Of The South African State And The Economy….
The ANC presidential succession race is taking place within the context of intense contestation between political formations and institutions which on one hand, are committed to radical economic transformation, and on the other, those that seek to retain control of the state and the economy in the hands of neo-liberal and capitalist forces. Failure to recognise this reality will inevitably render any discussion on the current South African political situation devoid of constructive analysis.
Despite widespread support from an un-transforming media and a range of pro imperialist organs of civil society for the opposition formations led by the Democratic Alliance (DA), the ANC remains the pre-eminent political organisation in South Africa. The set-backs of the 2016 local government elections notwithstanding , the organisation still enjoys considerable, if not , the overwhelming confidence of the majority of the people, especially the previously racially and economically oppressed black masses. It is the voice of these masses, forever demanding radical economic transformation, that are raising alarm bells in the corridors of the plush office complexes in Sandton. It is also the same voices which are raising alarm bells in London, Washington, Bonn, Zurich and Tel-Aviv. Hence control of the ANC, which in recent years has been increasingly labelled the “leader of society “, by reactionary elements has never heretofore become so critical. It is within the context of this very serious reality that current developments in the ANC and, indeed its relationship with its Tripartite partners namely COSATU and the SACP must be analysed.
Running parallel to the struggle for control of the ANC is the strange political anomaly which has seen the traditional formations of the working class , the vast trade union movement led by COSATU and the traditional champion of progressive class struggle, the SACP, surreptitiously getting into a an informal but strong alliance with reactionary formations. This process culminated in the participation by the SACP in apparently anti-Jacob Zuma marches which were however in essence in support of the narrow and racist strategy of the right-wing to retain the status quo under the guise of combatting corruption and state capture. The absence of the SACP and COSATU at marches and demonstrations against the banks and other symbols of monopoly capital could only give credence to the argument that these two Alliance partners of the ANC had been infiltrated by agents of white monopoly capital.
In an article which was posted on this site early this year “The Red Banner of The South African Communists Is Not For Sale” http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/red-banner-south-african-communists-not-sale/ , I raised this issue of an SACP which seems to be not impartial in its attack of corruption and state capture in South Africa. The SACP seems to be fixated on one individual, namely Jacob Zuma, and one family, the Gupta brothers at the exclusion of growing evidence of massive corruption by a range of powerful business entities and families. The revelation of corruption in National Treasury under former ministers Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gorhdan and Nhlanhla Nene are seemingly being wiped off the political rudder and the scrutiny of comrades in the SACP and COSATU.
I have personally been interested in getting well-reasoned opinion as to why the SACP and COSATU ( the SACP more intensely so than COSATU ) are creeping into an alliance with reactionary formations. This strange political phenomenon comes in the wake of the apparent infiltration of the EFF by agents of white monopoly capital. Thus 23 years since the advent of democracy in South Africa, we are confronted by an usual situation where the red colour which represents the blood of workers and the hammer and sickle, the symbols of the radical working class are being worn and displayed by formations which are promoting anti-transformation strategies, side by side with formations of racist minority privilege . In view of the fact that I am personally not a very well experienced political analyst, I seek the assistance of other comrades who could assist us to grope towards a much better understanding of this very strange and disturbing political anomaly and aligment of political formations in our country.
The intensification of the struggle for control of the ANC has also seen the emergence of four other tendencies which are alien to ANC tradition . The first is the growing use of violence and other forms of coercion rather than intellectual debate, to advance the interest of one candidate and indeed faction over another. This has particularly been so in the KwaZulu-Natal area in so far as violence in the form of assassinations is becoming the hallmark of internal-political contestation. Elsewhere it has been argued , perhaps correctly so, that appointment to ANC position opens the door to the securing of resources and power. I also wish to hazard the argument that control of structures of the ANC, including its highest offices draws intense interest from such powerful forces both inside and outside of South Africa with the effect that the normal rules of engagement become very murky as the various stake-holders, both legitimate and illegitimate, become susceptible to external manipulation.
The latter viewpoint becomes particularly important in the light of rumours that huge financial resources are being funnelled into our branches ahead of the National Conference in December. This use of financial resources is the second tendency to develop within the organisation. It is said that such financial resources are being used to solicit the political support of some candidates at the December National Conference. What we are not told is the origin of such financial resources. While some could be coming in from local bank vaults, it is also very possible that there will be support in the form of resources for some candidates coming in from abroad. After all, it seems that this is how the EFF came to be co-opted into the ranks of right-wing formations led by the DA.
Though I will not discuss it at length, perhaps this issue of use of resources and finance to lobby for political support must by its very nature compel us as an organisation to consider making it mandatory that candidates seeking election to political office declare sources of funding for their respective campaigns. Not only will this make our internal electoral processes much more transparent and equitable, but it will throttle any attempts by external forces to infiltrate our organisation for their own ulterior motives.
The third tendency is the readiness by some of our comrades, including senior leaders of the organisation past and current, to call for the loss of electoral support for the organisation so that, the argument goes, such loss of support would force the ANC, having suffered humiliation in national and local government elections, to “self-correct”. This position was first advanced by Ronnie Kasrils following the loss of the faction led by Cde Thabo Mbeki at the Polokwane Conference in 2007. In recent months it has been advanced by Cde Kgalema Motlante who first raised it on the BBC show “Hard Talk”. Such a call displays either political ignorance and lack of revolutionary discipline or is clearly meant to emasculate the ANC and leave it open and susceptible to withering away as the most potent force in South African politics.
The fourth tendency is the readiness by those who lose elections within the organisation to bypass ANC internal processes to seek redress in the courts. This has happened in the Free State, the North West , KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Failure to abide by the democratic process and the readiness to seek redress in the courts is hallmark of counter-revolutionary formations like the DA, COPE and the UDM. It is alien to ANC tradition and must never be encouraged.
I have with a deep sense of grief and sorrow also felt compelled to comment on the circumstances, around the failed apparent assassination attempt on one of the country’s most senior newspaper editors, Steven Motale, which our conservative press, the NGOs and conservative clergy carefully chose to ignore. I raise this issue simply because it happened within the context of the ANC succession debate. The expose by Motale’s newspaper of the sordid details of Cde Cyril Ramaphosa’s extra-marital affairs seems to have raised the ire and wrath of his supporters and powerful interests who stand to gain from his election to the most powerful office in the country . Please my dear comrades and readers, note that this is not to suggest that following the expose by Independent on Sunday newspaper, Cde Ramaphosa procured the services of assassins with a view towards assassinating Motale. I am convinced that Cde Cyril would never stoop to such a low level. He is much more credible than that. I am merely raising this matter in order to highlight the fact that there is a lot at stake regarding the outcome of our elective conference, not only for those within the ANC but also elsewhere in South Africa and beyond. More than everything else, that incidence graphically and brutally displays the lack of intolerance of those who exercise their right to freedom of speech and association. It has been to resolutely combatted , nipped in the bud and be discarded into the dust-bin of political history , very much like we did with the cruel policy of apartheid and all that it stood for.
Like all other cadres of the ANC, I also have my own preferred list candidates for the Top Six of the organisation . However my love for the organisation and my respect for its internal processes dictates that whatever the outcome of the elective conference, I must stand ready to give my full support to those that shall emerge victorious. To do otherwise would be to partake in the evil plots of those who seek to destroy our glorious organisation and thereby to defer the dream of a South Africa devoid of all forms of discrimination to the distant future.
Greg Alexander Mashaba is an Additional BEC Member of the ANC Branch in Ward 23 , Ekurhuleni. He writes in his personal capacity.