ANC Must Renew or Die

Akuba Mokoena

Cover picture: ANC campaigning for elections. On the left: A convoy of expensive cars and on the right: ANC NEC Member Dr Zweli Mkhize emerges from a dilapidated home during a Door-to-Door campaign in KZN. 

IT takes a special kind of brazen political arrogance to drive through impoverished townships in expensive cars or helicopters covered in African National Congress (ANC) branding or to display millions-rands worth of statues in a country where poverty, unemployment and inequality are among the highest in the world.

The ANC is in Kwazulu Natal this week as part of its week-long birthday celebrations. Africa’s oldest political party turns 107 years this year but seemingly doesn’t have the wisdom that comes with its age. A number of statues of ANC leaders are displayed along one of the highways in Durban. The eThekwini Council has reportedly mentioned a figure of R20m for statues of former ANC Presidents Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela to be erected some time this year. A project run by Tambo’s son Dali whereby hundreds of statues of struggle icons will be erected will reportedly cost hundreds of million rands.

While one fully understands the importance of the production of post-apartheid memorialisation symbols (statues, name changes, etc) in the restoration of the dignity of the oppressed, questions must be asked about prioritising this over the rights to life, housing, healthcare, water, education, sanitation, and others.

The process of curating our history is left to the ruling party which decides which names will be curated as a reflection of the liberation struggle against colonialism and apartheid. The process and decisions on who and what history will be produced is skewed towards the ruling party and men. And stories that the inclusion of women statues in Durban was a last minute decision.

The ANC seems oblivious to the reality of the majority of its supporters until of course it does its customary door-to-door campaign when you see pictures of leaders emerge from some of the most destitute of communities. On the other hand it may well be that it has reached such levels of arrogance that it doesn’t care, for it is not accountable to anyone and believes it is assured the vote come election time anyway.

THE ANC’s call for renewal and regeneration is seemingly an impossible dream.

IN 2007, the ANC resolved to embark on a process of renewal to restore its revolutionary glory and recapture its integrity. In the eleven years that followed, it has failed dismally as was shown in its performance in subsequent polls.

The results of the national elections since the advent of democracy are as follows:

1994 – 62.6%, 1999 – 66.4%, 2004 -69.7%, 2009 – 65.9% 2014 – 62.15% (Source:

However, it is the results of the municipal elections in which the ANC earned 53% of the vote and lost three metropolitan municipalities – City of Tshwane, City of Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, that shook the Party to a point of undertaking a post-election survey among its supporters.

The results of the survey pointed to three areas which of concern to the ANC members: Divisions within the party, corruption and political arrogance.

The ANC of today is deeply fractured despite persistent calls for unity and putting on a brave face of unity at its 107th birthday celebrations in Kwazulu-Natal this week. Apart from weakened structures which are dysfunctional and fraught with division, it has a Youth League that is literally non-existent. Yet another Youth League conference was postponed this December. Several allies of former President Jacob Zuma have formed political parties in the last six-months and despite the ANC’s insistence that they wont make a dent to it on the outcome of the elections.

The January 8 celebrations have become synonymous with brazen and crass display of opulence by the ANC middle class and elite; sexual predators who target young and vulnerable women; and a big social gathering where the majority of comrades go for a party. With the exception of a few events where serious political and intellectual debate takes place, the week is largely one big event for marketing and business networking.

The litany of allegations of corruption while many of the accused remain in the party and in government without any action being taken to prove or disprove those accusations suggests a party that has lost its sense of accountability.

The ANC speaks of renewal often but struggles to find the moral impediment among many of its cadres to implement it. The ANC doesn’t have to say sorry to the millions of voters to whom it makes promises it wont keep despite the runaway looting of state coffers.


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