Can we still draw a parallel between ANC at inception and the current ANC?
By Stephanie Wild
In recent years there has been much speculation as to whether or not President Zuma has upheld the values of the ANC. With numerous calls from opposition parties for a vote of no confidence and the recent ZumaMustFall campaign, we have to ask ourselves where we are to place our loyalty.
To insist that an organisation should resist change over a hundred-year period would be an unrealistic expectation. The ANC has been forced to adapt to the changing South African political landscape. It has had to abandon its Marxist approach, as well as had to transform from a liberation organisation into a political party. However, I believe that we should expect such an organisation to maintain its core values, if not for the sake of the citizens of South Africa, then out of respect to those who fought and died for these values and ideals. The ANC was committed towards ensuring a post-Apartheid South Africa with, for example, the 1958 protests against the then approaching elections. Formed in an environment where most South Africans were disenfranchised, the ANC symbolised equality with Mandela’s revolutionary spirit.
From an ethical standpoint, I cannot draw many parallels between the ANC as it was initially and the current ruling party. With its leader’s impressive collection of 783 counts of corruption, fraud and racketeering, as well as numerous rape allegations, it is difficult to associate the two. The corrupt top tier of leadership does not seem to prioritise equality. Currently, President Zuma is facing yet another vote of no confidence and there is much speculation as to whether he will survive this round. Opposition parties, namely the UDM, DA and EFF, have capitalised on ANC factionalism through calling for the use of a secret ballot in parliament. The need for anonymity shows the level of corruption and intimidation evident in the current ANC, which was only intensified by the recent reshuffling of the cabinet ministers. Zuma’s attempts at maintaining power and influence within his party have become increasingly desperate as even members of the ANC boycotted the president’s 75th birthday party over issues concerning “funding”.
President Zuma’s blatant disregard for the wishes of the South African people can be said to undermine our democracy. As the Freedom Charter of 1955 states, “No government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.” Is the president’s blatant misuse of power to ensure he retains influence despite widespread public disapproval not a direct contradiction to the ANC’s own code of conduct? These sentiments are reiterated in Ahmed Kathrada’s letter to the president in which he says, “Submit to the will of the people and resign.”
That being said, President Zuma remains our president. The majority of South Africans voted for a Zuma-led ANC. Therefore, is it not the responsibility of all South Africans to respect this decision? Are South Africans voting for the ANC of old or for the current Zuma-led organisation? Should we place this loyalty to South African heroes in the hands of those who so blatantly corrupt the ideals that they fought for?
When thinking of the Gupta family’s political influence in being able to offer a ministerial position, surely we must reconsider our vote? That being said, South Africans should be able to pay tribute to their heroes through continuing their legacies. These questions become more important in light of the extensive shifting of power during the recent local elections. The decrease in ANC votes could signal a call among all South Africans for a new president as dissatisfaction with current leadership mounts as a result of a weakening economy and poor service delivery. This dissatisfaction only grows with the stagnation of social and economic transformation.
It has come to the point where all South Africans must decide which ANC organisation they subscribe to: the ANC of old or of new. The only way to truly honour South Africa’s struggle veterans is to hold our president accountable and to reject the corruption that has become so prevalent. However, we cannot allow this decision to further polarise and divide South African society, thereby deteriorating our democracy.