Politically, the ANC has completely shifted its guiding compass from being concerned with resolving the national question to being worried about rating agencies, writes PEDRO MZILENI
Anyone who is emotionally and intellectually connected to the plight of the marginalised section of our society must have had a hard time listening to finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech last week.
In this financial year, it will be more expensive for workers to travel between their homes and workplaces, VAT remains at 15%, the state-owned enterprises that should steer our transformative and developmental areas are going to be privatised, the workers in the public sector are being threatened with retrenchments, children of apartheid victims are still being given loans by a black government instead of the free education they fought for and the corporate taxes on our oligopolies have been left untouched.
Politically, the ANC has completely shifted its guiding compass from being concerned with resolving the national question to being worried about rating agencies.
The liberation of black people in general and Africans in particular from the triple cruelty of race oppression, class exploitation, and gender discrimination, through the transfer of the country’s wealth to the hands of the people as a whole, does not seem to be a priority of the ANC anymore.
The politics of the ANC are those of accommodating and embracing market perceptions of its leaders.
A conservative leader who speaks of neo-liberal growth, “clean governance” and ethical standards are accepted more than a leader who carries radical approaches to questions of wealth redistribution.
Uninterrogated corruption accusations and sexual allegations are used as weapons to silence and dislodge any organisational potential from the progressive sector of our politics, to wage a worthy struggle for social justice underpinned by a unity of purpose.
The wedge driver is committed to three things:
- Make them constantly fight with one another to sustain their divisions;
- Constantly broadcast the market perceptions about their leaders in the negative to weaken their intellectual commitment and defocus them from the core programme, and ultimately
- Defeat them and, quite frankly, annihilate them.
These political characteristics of our discourse have made the ANC choose the easy way out, which is to donate its intellectual property to rightwing commitments as demonstrated in Mboweni’s budget and Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation.
The direction it has taken also demonstrates the class suicide that the deceased SACP and the lifeless Cosatu have committed by allowing their alliance leader to shift to the right without their critical scrutiny.
These signs have been self-inflicted on the party since the first decade of a post-apartheid SA wherein they all allowed factionalism, politics of the personality cult, the raiding of government procurement services and the defence of the constant violation of their founding values by their leaders.
These have all gone on for too long unattended.
Though the presence of the EFF has forced the ANC’s slight swing back to the left in terms of its lip service, it still does not seem that the question of the land, the mines, and the Reserve Bank will be translated into any quantifiable action under the current business-orientated, masculine leadership of the ANC.
The right-wing decisions are taken on Eskom, education, fuel, and the minimum wage, and the attitude on the public sector workers have shown the lack of depth that the current leadership has when it is confronted with the commodification of public goods. These structural problems do not require the upcoming national bourgeois elections that will put in office another class accountable to the market.
The weaknesses of the western parliamentary democracy are with us wherein the citizenry is forced to choose a government from a group of land thieves, sexists, tenderpreneurs, conservatives, pensioners, capitalists, tribalists, fascists, rapists, racists, murderers, and gatekeepers.
If anything, our society requires a citizenry that will see the democracies that exist in the alternative spaces of our communities.
The trigger rests with social movements created from the community’s urgencies and socioeconomic solidarities that each of them carries.
The first episode of the 2015 #FeesMustFall protests has demonstrated the authentic power of a different organising that is underpinned by clearly defined strategies and objectives. These carry material conditions that produce a community leadership that is charismatic, gender sensitive and militantly disciplined.
It is these alternative sites of power that are in the hands of the people that have the potential of pulling authority towards the concerns of the marginalised.
It is the people’s working class urgency that will deliver wealth redistribution, free education, secured employment, state-subsidised healthcare, an affordable and interconnected public transport system, land expropriation, a state bank, a public insurance company, and principled leadership.
Anything less would be the current leadership’s obsession with right-wing flirtation which is not only devoid of imaginative ideas, but it is also a neo-colonial programme that is against the people’s Kliptown charter.
- Pedro Mzileni is a PhD sociology candidate at Nelson Mandela University