Editorials 30.8.2016 06:34 am

The ANC’s great disappearing act

President Jacob Zuma shares a moment with Gauteng Premier David Makhura on June 4 at the FNB Stadium in Nasrec. File picture: Alaister Russell

President Jacob Zuma shares a moment with Gauteng Premier David Makhura on June 4 at the FNB Stadium in Nasrec. File picture: Alaister Russell

It’s simply a free-for-all. A statement by the ANC in the morning will be contradicted by someone else in the party by the afternoon.

When ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe makes a statement, is he speaking on behalf of the ANC? What about when spokesperson Zizi Kodwa does? Or Jackson Mthembu? What about President Jacob Zuma?

It’s simply a free-for-all. A statement by the ANC in the morning will be contradicted by someone else in the party by the afternoon. How does one keep faith in such an organisation? How do you hold it to its promises, decisions or plans? You simply can’t.

No wonder labour federation Cosatu is confused when it says that while it accepts it is in an alliance with the governing party, it no longer knows which version or faction of the ANC it is aligned with. It might turn out it’s not even in an alliance with any of them.

All that currently exists of what we can describe as “the ANC” is branding and history: an instantly recognisable logo and 104 years of people and their stories going back to the party’s founding in 1912 in Bloemfontein. Those 104 years mostly speak of a proud lineage of leaders who were at the helm to give the movement direction and clarity of purpose.

But now that era is gone and the jury is out over whether it can ever be regained. That the ANC is full of exemplary leaders is without question. Whether any of those noble men and women are even vaguely close to having a say over what happens in the control room of the ANC is something we, and if recent election outcomes can be used as a measure, South Africa as a whole are coming to doubt.

The tussle over Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is just the most public and obvious expression of the struggle between the hawks and the doves in the party (no pun intended).

It is happening at every level and it means the ANC as we know it currently does not even exist. It may reform, perhaps in a version we could still admire, or as something altogether more monstrous.

But right now, it is a squabbling mess.

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