Of Spats, Splits and Suspensions : Where to now for the ANC ?

The news that members of the ANC such as Terror Lekota are being “suspended”, by the ANC’s executive, is, given the recent shenanigans of the so called “lefty” ANC, really quite laughable. It raises all kinds of questions about the moral and ethical fabric  of the ANC structures, which seem to have been  seriously denuded, over the last few weeks. In fact the signs were there from Polokwane, which signalled the beginning of the demise, not because a new leadership structure was elected, but because the emphasis of the changing of the guard was around bringing into power a man who was effectively someone who would, it was assumed, pay back the favors of political support he had recieved, once in office. Of course this practice is nothing new in politics, what was surprising however was that it was taking place amongst the successors of struggle stalwarts such as Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Sisulu and others, who would most definitely not have condoned the decisions that have been taken by the current leadership.

The question now arises : what next for a party that is basically lurching from one crisis to another? Spats and splits amongst ANC factions have happened before, but with suspensions taking place, does this mean that there are now some members who have the “legitimate” right to speak for the ANC and others who don’t? How do we understand the new dynamics of what is going on?

It would appear that the ANC is actually going through not just a political crisis but an existential one as well. The foundations on which it was established have seemingly been replaced by self-serving narrow interests and agendas, where the point of struggle is now no longer about striving towards social justice, equality and non-racialism, but the goal has become “geared” towards advancing crony capitalism, factionalism and sharing the spoils of elite pacting.

Of course this tendency was alive and well  under Mbeki’s regime too, so for the new leadership to claim that it will change the way things were done, is rich. What has happened at Polokwane, is that those that were out of the “inner” circle, have now become part of it, and they will simply take forward the established modus operandi, couched in some fancy lefty rhetoric.  More old wine with new bottles, showing a crack here and there.

As for the rest of us, well we can only try and not become bilious at these mercenary tactics playing themselves out. I think it might actually be good for a new party to come out of the ANC split, because this will illustrate to the new ANC vanguard that while they might consider themselves as the only game in town, there are those who will not tolerate being told that they no longer “belong”. They will despite their own shortcomings, find new political life, and may even become a better option for the masses, than the mother body. While I am not holding my breath, that this may actually happen, I hope I am pleasantly surprised.


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