To an ardent ANC cadre and staunch follower, it is shocking to hear a statement by a prominent political analyst of the calibre of Sipho Seepe saying the ANC must seriously consider breaking up in order for the party to heal.
To me, any split of the ANC would mean one thing: the Tripartite Alliance must come to an end and each of the components that formed it must go their separate ways, as what brought them together no more exists.
The alliance – the ANC as a leader, the SACP and Cosatu – came into being as a strategy to fight the common enemy, apartheid, and to achieve the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.
As it was envisaged, the next phase after political liberation was to focus on the economic liberation.
Unfortunately, the dynamics of freedom and democracy have disturbed this second phase making its goal unachievable.
Instead of a focused economic struggle, the democracy introduced a different approach epitomised by such programmes as the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), which was never featured in the revolution debates.
Much as the concept of BEE was one of the resolutions of the ANC 51st National Conference held at Stellenbosch University in 2002, it became an anathema that went against genuine economic emancipation.
It reinforced the ANC neo-liberal policy known as the Growth Employment and Redistribution (Gear) strategy. Instead of being led by people’s structures, the BEE, like Gear, became a government policy that benefitted only a chosen few.
With the economic emancipation route frustrated by prevailing conditions of freedom and the alliance presently in disarray, an alternative way forward has to be found.
The argument put forward by Seepe is an interesting one. He says the ANC needs to split if it is to survive – a point that sparked a debate within the ANC.
Basing his argument on the undeniable fact that relations and alliances are informed by context and prevailing conditions, he correctly points out that the formation of the Tripartite Alliance was informed mainly by black oppression under apartheid.
But now the ANC had reached a dead-end and is malfunctioning due to divergent demands by its multi-class membership. To get out of this ditch, it has to trim itself to become a focused political party. “The best way to do that was for the ANC to officially split, different formations must start walking their own ways,” Seepe says.
In his view, the SACP is a socialist organisation looking for a socialist future and those who wanted Zuma (in Polokwane) created in their minds what they thought he was. But they were disappointed later to realise that his policies were the same as those of Thabo Mbeki.
“You can see that the glue that kept them together has become unstuck. The ANC must stop deluding itself to think that this church will last, it is unsustainable,” Seepe said.
My question is: is it not time for the alliance to consider breaking up as apartheid is no more?
Unless there was a radical change that would favour the continuation of the alliance, each of its components must accept their “sell-by” date expired. The product must be dumped.