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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Business Day Live by Onkgopotse JJ Tabane.]

Occasionally, a seismic event takes place that changes the political landscape completely. The horror of Marikana was one, and the recent local government elections constitute another, reminding us all of the magnitude of the task that lies ahead in building our country.

The lashing of the governing party received in major urban centres around the country must surely kick it out of its slumber and humble it, for the sake of the people it purports to represent.

There is no undermining the loyalty of an ANC voter — 2019 is not going to be a walk in the park for the opposition, since there is every possibility that those who boycotted the polls will re-emerge to defend their beloved movement if it has pulled itself together. Still, there is no getting away from the fact that losing its majority in four major metros is a huge political event, aptly described as the ANC’s lowest point in its 104-year history.

Let’s be frank. The EFF has energised the political landscape but in the eyes of many, its message has been elevated beyond measure following its masterful political decision regarding governing coalitions. Make no mistake, these are consummate politicians who cut their teeth in the liberation movement. They are now unleashing what they learnt from the mother hen, and doing it with such aplomb that many did not see the move coming.

The EFF has introduced a new kind of politics that is not merely driven by power hunger. The incoherent response of the mighty ANC shows that the party was caught by total surprise.

In an attempt to counter this, it tried to tug on the political umbilical cord that still exists between the parties, even sending veterans to persuade the EFF not to throw its lot in with the “white minority racist party of bosses”, ie the DA. This, from the same party that made FW de Klerk, fresh from the apartheid era, a deputy to president Nelson Mandela in the government of national unity a mere 22 years ago, and that has gone into coalitions with “white” minority parties in various municipalities several times over the past 15 years.

What was good for the goose is suddenly not so good for the gander.

And then the political infants that are the ANC Youth League arose from their slumber to make a half-baked call for an early congress. As it happens, I agree with the call but would have preferred less smoke and mirrors about why it is being made.

It is patently clear that the intention should be to remove President Jacob Zuma and his national executive committee, and elect a new leadership that can at least appreciate the crisis the ANC is in. Yet, speaking on Power FM last week, a youth league spokesperson reckoned Zuma should stand for re-election at this early congress. Go figure.

The ANC seems determined that Zuma should remain president until 2019, which amounts to an electoral death wish. ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa did not waste any time lambasting the young ones for being wet behind the ears.

No surprises there — remember, he and uBaba made speeches at the so-called elective congress of the league, stating that the only thing it is good for is to defend the president and the ANC.

Zuma went to some lengths to define what is meant in the ANC by the term counter-revolutionary, a clear message there will be no mercy if the league is contemplating getting out of line.

The conduct of the ANC’s national executive committee at the moment is simply disgraceful.

To sit through a four-day meeting after such a crisis has befallen the movement, and then admit that the elephant in the room — the culpability of the leader of the party in creating this royal mess — was completely ignored, speaks volumes about the calibre of the people who are leading the ANC at present.

They have abdicated their responsibility to a point where even the most hapless youth league in the history of the party wants them gone before their term of office is over.


Tabane is author of Let’s Talk Frankly and anchor of Power Perspective on Power FM.


South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in March 2019 (CPI) & +6.2 y/y in March 2019 (PPI)
1.4% q/q (4th quarter of 2018)
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