If this was not so serious, one would find the drama happening at Luthuli House more engrossing than any soapie on television. Grown women and men have spent the last few months squabbling like kindergarten classmates with seemingly no end in sight.
What was envisaged to be a very progressive resolution aimed at demonstrating to the sceptical voting public that the ANC, after the Nasrec conference of 2017, was serious about combating corruption has turned out to be the most contentious issue since the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955 which led to the formation of the breakaway, the PAC.
When this step-aside resolution was adopted, so enthusiastically, what did the delegates think it meant? Who, in their minds, was going to be affected by it? Do you want to tell me that the people who are now eloquently arguing against its implementation did not foresee that it would affect them and their comrades? When they adopted it who did they think it was going to be implemented on? Or did they think that, like so many other conference resolutions, this one was also going to gather dust somewhere in the corner and never be implemented? Or were they so pre-occupied with the election race that they forgot to think this and many other resolutions through, carefully enough? Or should we start to worry about the quality of delegates sent to these conferences?
I remember in August last year ANC Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina declared boldly on Twitter: “Tomorrow @ 11:00am I will be symbolically picketing against corruption outside St. George’s Hotel and call for all ANC members who are facing charges of corruption to step aside!” True to his word he did just that and held a placard that said: “Corrupt officials must step aside until they are cleared.” His words have come back to haunt him as the NEC has finally taken the bold step of implementing this very resolution and has started with the secretarygGeneral himself, Ace Magashule, who faces serious corruption charges in the Free State courts. As expected, Masina is no longer singing quite the same tune with the same note as he was, back in August last year.
People are now invoking the ‘innocent until proven guilty” principle as if this didn’t exist at Nasrec when they so enthusiastically adopted the very resolution. Someone needs to tell them that they cannot have their cake and eat it – either they support the resolution and its aims, or they do not view corruption as such a serious thing, or they support it so long as it does not affect any of their friends.
The last NEC meetings took place while the country was faced with the most serious crisis since 1994. You would therefore have expected that the economy and the pandemic would have been on top of the agenda and not the squabbling we have been seeing. This makes you wonder if the ANC has got its priorities mixed up. It makes you wonder if they realise that, as the ruling party, the plight of millions of South Africans depends on them to find a solution to the economic and health crisis we are living through.
In the NEC statement presented by Cyril Ramaphosa, almost two pages were dedicated to their internal squabbles and a few small paragraphs to the economy and the pandemic. This tells you all you need to know about where their focus is. We have to remind them to get their priorities straight – if you get what I mean.