Following the much-publicised loss of some of the big metros after what appears to have been the worst electoral performance of the ANC since 1994, the ANC leadership and its alliance partners (SACP and Cosatu) have been embroiled in public engagements which left millions of South Africans wondering whether the alliance is about to vanish.
Speculation is rife that the standoff between the ANC and its allies has less to do with the outcome of the local government elections than it is a matter of two bulls flexing their muscles ahead of the ANC elective congress in 2017.
The fragmentation within the ANC prompted the ANC Youth League to call for an early elective congress. This call has since received a backlash, with some within the movement stopping short of describing it as a factional exercise aimed at deflecting attention from the real issues that taint and continue to erode the standing of the ANC in society.
Clearly, the contest for the 2017 elective congress has reached a tipping point and all groupings seem prepared to employ whatever means they have at their disposal to influence the outcome.
Ironically, all the groupings want everyone to believe that their cause is aimed at protecting the ANC from corrupt forces, or Western agents or provocateurs. It is hard to understand why people who are united in their love for the organisation will be at each other’s throats.
The latest group to enter the fray is #OccupyLuthuliHouse, although its protagonists have publicly declared their intention to save the ANC from self-destruction.
However, their actions are just as harmful. Of course, the leadership of ANC is consumed by palace politics ingrained in factionalism and this has weakened its ability to discharge its constitutional obligations. The outcome of the recent local government elections shows that although a majority voted for the ANC to govern, a significant number of voters withheld their votes.
There is no doubt that the ANC is bleeding, but it is unthinkable and unscientific that the incumbent leadership is entirely not guilty of all that came to be known as problems.
It is vital to place our ongoing democratic transition on to a second radical phase for the ANC to disabuse itself from the notion that all members who revolt against the status quo are somewhat captured and those who embrace it are true members.
ANC members should realise the relevance of the movement lies in its ability to solve the challenges that people are faced with.
The ANC, deeply preoccupied with factional battles, carries no capacity to transform the economy and to accomplish its objectives. Our opponents charged that the former liberation movement’s integrity and credibility will gradually decline because it is failing to address the many massive developmental challenges confronting society.
They argue that this is because the former liberation movement does not welcome radical policy shifts and is instead obsessed with protecting the interests of white monopoly capital.
The burden to dispel this myth rests on all revolutionaries within the party. If the ANC continues to exhibit signs of a repression and to be swallowed by factionalism, it runs the risk of losing the confidence of the people at whose pleasure it leads the nation.
This article first appeared in the SACP’s online publication, Umsebenzi Online.