I've just finished reading the ANC's January 8th statement, and while it's not filled with anything new or exciting I thought there were a few interesting things in there that are worth pointing out. One in particular that I find quite disturbing.
A time for humility
It is immediately obvious that this is not Jacob Zuma's statement, even if he was the one to read it. And perhaps it showed that Zuma is losing some influence, as evidenced by the apologetic tone in certain parts. This is one of the big positives for me. The ANC acknowledged that they have been making mistakes. They acknowledged their failures with regards to the recent elections and in a bout of good sportsmanship even admitted that it was good for democracy in South Africa, that it was good the democratic process that people showed their dissatisfaction at the voting booth. This is an absolute truth! Competition at election time is is great for democracy because it forces politicians to be on top of their game. The local government elections were a wake-up call for the ANC, and one they seem to be heeding, albeit slowly.
There was also a half-hearted concession to the perception that the ANC is rampant with corruption. In fact the very words they used were "perception of corruption." They stopped short of the mark by saying they want to get rid of the perception of of corruption, rather than corruption itself, but it's a start. Let's hope these words are sincere.
Not saying much
A lot of the transcript is made up of repetitions of ANC policies and rhetoric, of what in the past have been empty promises and threats about land redistribution and radical economic transformation. Land redistribution certainly needs happen, but it needs to be done wisely so that we don't end up in the same boat as Zimbabwe. Radical economic change is the scary part. The majority of our population were disenfranchised for many years and the injustices they suffered need to be rectified, but the ANC has no idea how to do this. Programs like BEE and BBBEE, government investment into black startups and social development programs have done little to solve the problems and in fact have just been making them worse. Black people cannot become wealthy simply by taking away the wealth of white people. There are 4 million whites and 40 million blacks in South Africa. Mathematically it is just not going to work. Furthermore, the general black populous does not have the necessary skill or experience to grow or even maintain that wealth. The fastest and only sustainable way to spread wealth across our society is to achieve massive economic growth through a free market, a top quality education system and significant cultural changes. By that I mean developing a cultural across South Africa of that places high value on integrity, learning and hard work. And this must be done at nursery school level, where our investment should be going, not at university level.
A fair chunk of material is devoted to preaching unity. Ironically, it did not take long for the youth and women's leagues to illustrate how hard that is going to be to achieve. Already there are two different endorsements for Jacob Zuma's successor as president of the ANC. Long before the election process is to start, Cosatu have put themselves firmly behind Cyril Ramaphosa and even in the wake of the call for unity, the women's league have put themselves equally firmly behind Nkosazane Dlamini-Zuma. But perhaps the most controversial endorsement is the one that hasn't happened yet, with Collen Maine claiming that the youth league will send "shockwaves through the ANC' when they reveal their candidate. Indeed they have been preaching that it is a time for younger leadership. The only people I can imagine they are referring to is Collen Maine himself, who will certainly lose if he runs, and Julius Malema, if that is even allowed. But I'm excited to find out exactly what they mean.
Long live Leninism!
The most shocking part of the speech came near the end where out of nowhere there was a sudden praising of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. In case you were wondering, this revolution was the beginning of the Soviet Union, one of the most oppressive and evil regimes of modern history. We should all be horrified that a supposedly democratic institution such as the ANC should sing the praises of an authoritarian regime that stole the freedom of their people (killing 20 million of them process!), censored the media and was just all-round oppressive. In fact the Soviet government was far worse than our much loathed apartheid government. It is extremely worrying that there is evidence that such strong communist ideas still exist with some powerful people in the ANC. I'm not saying we are going to turn in to Cuba in the next 20 years, but any praise towards repressive communist systems must be strongly condemned!
But in the end actions speak louder than words, and the ANC being a broad church often don't match their actions to their words, so we are yet to see what this all means in reality, if anything at all.