The myth of two ANCs is hurting South Africa

To secure a prosperous future for South Africa, the South African public needs to understand that the ANC as a whole is disastrous for this country. The notion that the “good ANC” of Ramaphosa and his reform slate will save South Africa from the “bad ANC” of Magashule, Mabuza, Zuma and the various looters of our state is misguided.

Since taking over from President Zuma a year and a half ago, President Ramaphosa has benefitted from, and at times peddled, this myth. It has largely succeeded in absolving him from wrongdoing and placing him beyond reproach in the eyes of the South African public when what we should be doing is holding him to account.

Superficially, this myth of two ANCs seems plausible and is perhaps entrenched by certain policy disagreements, such as the issue of the Reserve Bank.

But there is in fact only one ANC in which Cyril Ramaphosa has been a central player since long before he became its president at Nasrec. He sat on the ANC’s Top 6 under Jacob Zuma – the same structure he continues to serve in today. He was part of every decision, good or bad, taken by this structure and it is inconceivable that he was either unaware, or sat passively, as key issues were discussed and implemented.

For example, in KZN back in 2011, the ANC succeeded in strengthening their position and weakening the IFP by rewarding Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi with a deputy cabinet post for splitting from the IFP to form the National Freedom Party. It seems the same tactic has been applied in the Western Cape, except this time the reward was a full cabinet post.

Another example is the list of compromised Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Chairs announced last month which, according to the myth, Ramaphosa either didn’t know about, or had foisted upon him by the “bad ANC” faction. This is simply not true. Ramaphosa cannot have been oblivious to these appointments, as though he had just jetted in yesterday from a distant planet with smart cities and bullet trains.

Ironically, Ramaphosa is the one now preaching ANC unity, while the media commentators persist with the “two ANCs” message on his behalf. It is a dangerous, ahistorical fiction that fails to recognise the political power of the collective in the ANC.

A related myth is that Ramaphosa needs protection from his enemies within the party. This myth is spread by those who called for a “stronger mandate” for Ramaphosa ahead of the elections.

But as they are now fast discovering, it is impossible to give such a mandate to him alone. The effect of this myth has been to destroy accountability and absolve the ANC of its wrongdoings.

Here is a president who received half a million rand from corrupt Bosasa, who got caught out and misled Parliament, and who then had to change his response, even though there is no legal process in Parliament for changing a response. These are facts, but they are easily ignored by those who believe he is simply a victim of a conspiracy by the bad guys – a victim who now needs our protection.

These myths play beautifully into the hands of the president. Because while this is the dominant narrative, he can do no wrong. And if he appears to do wrong, then it must have been the actions of the forces of evil from whom he needs our protection. The President of the Republic of South Africa has extraordinary and excessive constitutional powers. He doesn’t need protection. He needs to be held to a high standard, and he needs to be accountable for his actions. Canonising him in a myth of good vs evil is a dangerous game for our democracy.

The ANC as a whole, with its vision of a National Democratic Revolution in which the state controls the economy, is destroying South Africa. Buying into a myth which removes accountability and keeps the ANC in power is investing in SA’s demise.

Warm regards,

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