When one tries to make sense of the voting that produced the Top Six officials and members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) during the organisation’s 54th National Conference at Nasrec in December 2017, it becomes obvious that delegates voted for or against candidates as per instruction by their leaders or their “agents”.
Come to think of it, what else were they expected to do when in the vast number of cases they do not know the people they are expected to vote into office? Yes, they may know leaders who have been in the public space and seeking re-election. But what about those who may be wanting to serve on the NEC for the first time?
Until a system is put in place that exposes each candidate to rigorous testing through a wider membership range in the lead-up to conference, the existing electoral shortcomings will persist with the resultant “voting cattle” syndrome.
During the December elective conference 2,360 delegates voted in favour of Ace Magashule becoming ANC secretary-general. It didn’t matter that twice in the past 10 years as Free State ANC provincial leader, Magashule had presided over gross irregularities in the management of provincial elections that resulted in concerned branch members successfully appealing to the courts to secure the annulment of the elections.
So, Magashule, the preferred secretary-general of the majority of delegates, attended conference as a non-voting delegate. But what did it matter? In the spirit of Alfred Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade:
Forward the Light Brigade!Was there a man dismayed?Not though the soldier knewSomeone had blundered.Theirs is not to make reply,Theirs is not to reason why,Theirs is but to do and die.Into the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.
Lord Cardigan led 600 men during the costly Battle of Balaclava. The Magashule campaign strategists had 2,360 to pull off the victory.
Could it be that the esteemed delegates were unaware that since 2013 there have been allegations against Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane, his former MEC for Agriculture, regarding the R570-million Estina Dairy Project in Vrede?
It was meant to introduce poor farmers into the dairy business but nothing came of it. Could it also be that the delegates were not impressed by the #GuptaLeaks revelation that R84-million of these funds were diverted to an offshore Gupta account?
Did they require to know if Magashule’s Free State government did demand an explanation as to why money intended to boost “radical economic empowerment” should instead be used to finance the Gupta wedding at Sun City? The one that KPMG wrote off as a business expense?
They would probably not have known that Magashule has been implicated in a dodgy property deal with the Free State Development Corporation that has landed his daughter a R9-million windfall.
There is a significant number of NEC members who owe their positions to the votes of the herd. It’s difficult to understand how a thinking delegate, except those who profit from illicit deals, would want the architects and facilitators of State Capture to serve in the highest echelons of an ANC.
Do they still subscribe to the ANC ideals that produced two Nobel laureates, Albert J Luthuli and Nelson Mandela? Do the delegates realise that the secretary-general position they gave to Ace Magashule was once held by Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Duma Nokwe, men of impeccable ethical standards?
These men would not have suffered the debilitating corruption that has seen the wholesale plunder of Eskom and Transnet and the devaluation of their pedigree. They would not have sacrificed Denel’s profitability by installing a board that sought more than anything to feed Gupta avarice. Does anyone sitting in those hallowed ANC councils feel they owe the country an explanation for abetting the ravaging of the SABC, PetroSA, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and other institutions in the care of government?
The tragedy is that society has not escaped the consequences of being governed by an ANC that counts among its leaders a nauseating dose of incompetent and/or corrupt people. It’s comforting to know that, contrary to the claim by Bathabile Dlamini, President of the ANC Women’s League, it isn’t and never was the case that everyone had “a skeleton in the cupboard”.
The electorate has nevertheless already taken steps to protect its interests. During the 2016 local government elections it drove the governing party out of three major metropolitan municipalities and obliged it to share the governance of the fourth with an opposition party.
With Jacob Zuma out of the way, the nation is pinning its hopes on Cyril Ramaphosa building a team of competent, ethical and committed leaders. Their raison d’etre has to be the delivery of acceptable levels of service to the people. But time is of the essence.
In the post-election euphoria, some ANC leaders proclaimed the instant arrival of unity. It was as if a magic wand had been waved to end divisions of the past. In real life things work somewhat differently. Witness the pronouncements of Jessie Duarte and Ace Magashule during the past week.
These two senior leaders made it abundantly clear that their loyalties lie with the man whom South Africans cannot wait to see disappear from the political scene. Magashule unabashedly egged on a crowd in Durban to “work hard (and) get the ANC back... It’s only five years.” He was repeating a chant often heard by deluded supporters of losing presidential candidate Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Jessie Duarte sought to isolate her party’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, from the rest of the leadership. If the utterances of these individuals sought to demonstrate their contempt for Ramaphosa, what they achieved was to demonstrate their own lack of discipline.
There are several lessons to be learnt from this behaviour and from other experiences.
First, the Ramaphosa administration will not go very far unless he builds an organisation of knowledgeable and committed members capable of making informed and independent decisions. Second, there must be realisation that building organisational unity is an arduous and time consuming process.
Last, a relentless war has to be waged against corrupt individuals and stern disciplinary measures taken against culprits. The ANC will not regain the trust of the people as long as corrupt individuals remain within the organisation. Unity with the corrupt is unity against society. DM