The political and democratic legitimacy of South Africa has never been in more serious troubles than now. The economic recession, which continues today, has exacerbated the crisis. The internal scramble for power within the ANC’s oligarchy simply revealed what was already there or as Roger Southall described it:
“National liberation movements as governments have proved to be a disappointment not only to many international symphathisers but above all to the majority of people over whom they rule.”
History throughout Africa sees a cloud over liberation movements’ failures where, once in government, leaders succumb to the aphrodisiac of money and power. One can say it was depressingly inevitable for South Africa to repeat history. The ANC, like SWAPO and Zanu-PF before it, seems incapable or selfishly unwilling to learn from history.
Let me remind ANC supporters or members who might feel aggrieved upon reading this column, I write and critique your party because it is the governing party and therefore whatever happens to or within it affects me and millions of South Africans. I must say, were it not for the punch-drunk arrogance, that makes them feel entitled to leadership, losing sight of economic realities and failing to do the sensible thing, this column would be reduced to writing about my love for film music, jazz and single malt scotch.
On every level, the ANC as the ruling party – especially this cabal of Paleolithic men and women led by President Jacob Zuma – has rendered the South African economy so sickly that it has failed to grow at the same rate as some of the other powerfully-endowed African nations that are currently experiencing +3% growth.
The undoing of this once great liberation movement is not the failing economy or the lack of capacity in their governing role. Nor is it ideologies or policies that are often eclectic and somewhat confused, as one would expect in view of its diverse membership and adherence to the broad church principles.
Rather, the undoing of this ANC has been manifesting through things such as #Guptaleaks, state capture, the fresh-off-the-press allegations in Jacques Pauw’s book and the Sars crisis.
At the heart of the biggest threat to political and democratic legitimacy of South Africa is a human soul. In all the structures of the ruling party, from branches to provinces to NEC and top six, power – corrupting and intoxicating – has eroded the sobriety that was once a liberation movement determined to do good.
Much like Caesar, the ruling party has let power muddy their response to the cries of the poor, occluded their vision to their shortcomings in governing and blurred the boundaries on what is acceptable and what is not. Conditions changed in the course of the ANC’s reign and it’s yet to show signs of a government that knows what to do in the face of the stagnant economy.
The difficulty I have with how the ruling party crosses over into the economic sphere and attempts to solve problems can be found in two examples:
- The use of revenue accrued from a very small tax base to dispense social grants – a well-meaning but unsustainable way of ensuring the wellbeing of the citizens;
- The effect of a high and rising basic services and public servants overhead on the course of the economy.
It takes economic literacy to know the welfare state and rising public sector wage bill is unsustainable. Sadly, in our case, the vision of ruling party politicians has been blurred by power, greed, corrupting and selling the country to a certain family that they’ve become impervious to the economic reality of the country they’re presiding over.
Like a protagonist in literary fiction, the ruling party contains within itself the source of its downfall. Within its ranks it has those who are the architects of rise to power of individuals who hoodwinked the “collective leaderships” and laid the foundation for state capture. No more political correctness or crocodile tears. As the ruling party, the ANC has become the sick man of South Africa; torturing us all and refusing to see or admit that the gruesome wounds are self-inflicted.
Of course, this is not the first nor the last time that a liberation movement in government fails to do what is good for them and its people. For some ANC leaders, the endgame has been reached.
For this reason, unless the ANC begins to take its role seriously as the governing party, it will fade like other African liberation movements.