Walter Rubusana, Saul Msane, John Dube, Josiah Gumede, Pixely ka Isaka Seme and Sol Plaatjie founded the South African Native Congress, which later became the ANC, in Mangaung in 1912 as an omnibus: opening up membership to people of all backgrounds. Little did they know that, years later, the giant liberation movement would become a shadow of its former self.
It attracted dodgy characters – convicted criminals and people with questionable credibility, whose sole objective have been to loot state coffers. That arrogance has led to the ANC being unable to proclaim itself as the leader it once was.
Facing polls in weeks – especially against the fledgling Economic Freedom Fighters, whose rhetoric seemingly resonates well with the poor and the young – the ANC has been found to be doing unnecessary pussyfooting before finalising its candidates list of MPs.
That list is currently laced with enough poison to deter any potential voter whose interest it is to see proper governance of the country taking shape.
The names on the list, which according to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, are to be referred to the party’s integrity committee, contradict and make a mockery of the ANC election slogan: “one South Africa for all”.
It contains characters such as Nomvula Mokonyane, Des van Rooyen, Bathabile Dlamini, Supra Mahumapelo, Faith Muthambi, Malusi Gigaba, Mosebenzi Zwane and Collen Maine – and names that continue to pop up at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
For a party whose president has campaigned on the ticket of a “new dawn” – synonymous with what former US president Bill Clinton once referred to as “a new day” during his campaign – we wonder whether, after the elections, we are likely to see the same we have been accustomed to under Jacob Zuma.
What voters should be asking is whether the entire ANC brains trust has been exhausted for them to settle for the individuals on the list.
Are these people we should trust with the mammoth task of addressing high unemployment, a stagnant economy, and high crime levels?
Worsening the situation has been this week’s outburst by Duarte at Luthuli House where she verbally attacked eNCA reporter Samkelo Maseko for asking “an attack question”.
For a party carrying scandal-dogged leaders – now hard at work to rebuild its damaged brand – Duarte’s outburst is certainly a new low.
Anyone who has had dealings with the media ought to know that, when inviting journalists to any briefing, expect to be quizzed on any issue.
During the well-oiled days of the ANC’s department of information and publicity, I can think of some of the party’s best leaders who maintained very good relations with reporters. They included veterans such as Frene Ginwala, Zwelakhe Sisulu, Pallo Jordan, Saki Macocoma, Gill Marcus and Ronnie Mamoepa.
To refer to a journalist as a “worst bully” who is “arrogant” out to “defend freedom of speech you never fought for” is certainly something unheard of in any media briefing.
This, coming from a leader of the governing party, is worrying.
Any marketing expert will tell you that the ANC brand goes far beyond the logo, colours and slogan. Brand ambassadors like Duarte are at the core of an acceptable image of the party.
For her not to live up that brand, can only serve to erase much work done by her predecessors who valued humility in times of adversity.