South Africans anticipated a fresher and juicier ANC January 8 statement from the party president, Jacob Zuma, but low and behold, it was same old story, “nothing new”, said a number of citizens present at the 105 birthday ceremony of the ruling ANC.
Jacob Zuma, on Sunday, addressed thousands of party supporters at Orlando Stadium in Soweto where party members were to reflect upon the year that has passed and also highlight some priorities for the new year.
This year’s celebration was themed ‘Unity in Action’. The party’s message, delivered by President Jacob Zuma, was nearly a sober reflection on where the party finds itself.
Zuma’s address highlighted the point that members of the party should stop fighting one another and focus on serving the nation. He also rebuked the increasing factionalism and how the seemingly entrenched practice continues to wear the party down.
Like in other years, the ANC January 8 statement recounted the glorious history of the party as a way to remind members that they should aspire to the leadership that was provided by the likes of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo during the anti-apartheid struggle.
Reacting to this, Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst noted that while this is a good call, it does not amount to a tangible strategy for the party to address the increasing levels of corruption and greed among its top members and how that affects the process of electing leadership within the organisation.
“If you’re in trouble, it makes no sense to keep saying that “I used to be great and smart”, Mathekga said about the ANC January 8 Statement by Zuma. He added that the intensity of the problem in the context of South Africa might be caused by the fact that it is a relatively rich country and that the ANC is in charge of a very big budget in government.
“What needs to be done by the ANC is to find ways to deal with the challenges of governing a modern democracy. These challenges are not specific to the ANC, but typical to any post-liberation party,
“It would serve them well to be practical and stop resorting to an attitude of exceptionalism as if corruption within the party is something that has never been seen in any political party before.
“The truth is, ANC members are influenced by the reality of living in a market society and are consequently motivated to accumulate resources. That means that members of the ANC will naturally be interested in leadership positions. They should therefore, be allowed to openly contest who claims them. It makes no sense to say it has never been the tradition of the ANC for candidates to openly declare their availability,” Mathekga wrote.
To resolve the intensity of factionalism and how it compromises the process of electing leadership within the party, the ANC simply has to open the process and allow everyone within the party to openly contest leadership positions, he added.
Meanwhile, Zuma, during the ANC January 8 Statement, told party supporters that 2017 is a special year for the ANC because it is the year that one of the key architects of the ANC, Oliver Tambo will be celebrating his centenary and the year one of the great heroes of the liberation struggle, Fidel Castro, who passed away on November 25 last year, is honored.
“We must emulate OR, who was exemplary in lifestyle and conduct. Members of ANC must be exemplary in leading a life of integrity and humility, like OR (Tambo) did.
“We can disagree as South Africans but still engage respectfully as compatriots. We must also continue building a non-partisan country,” Zuma said as he called on blacks to have increased access to the economy, especially in the construction sector.