President Cyril Ramaphosa and some of his cabinet members such as Ministers Tito Mboweni and Pravin Gordhan, are seemingly being made scapegoats by a dangerously corrupt element within the ruling party. The coalescing of those associated with state capture around Ace Magashule has seemingly defined its primary target as Ramaphosa and these two ministers.
This they do in a politically opportunistic fashion in order to project the New Dawn as a spectacular failure because, they allege, it disregards the ANC Nasrec Conference Resolutions. The red herrings in this regard are the policy resolutions on Nationalisation of SARB, Expropriation of Land without Compensation and Energy.
Accordingly, many have warned of a political Armageddon for Ramaphosa when the ANC meets in its mid-term National General Council (NGC) in June this year. The narrative goes that this NGC will be the beginning of the end of the Ramaphosa presidency. What this narrative misses though is that it is not President Ramaphosa who is failing the country at this moment, but the ANC itself.
If anything, the NGC will be the beginning of the end of the ANC if the latter fail to come up with workable economic policies and strategies that will take the country out of the current economic abyss.
It is our view that the ANC is currently stuck on what to do to address the debilitating economic situation in South Africa using the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) model as underpinned by the Freedom Charter economic objectives.
In this regard the Freedom Charter calls for profound changes in the economy such as drastic agrarian reform; widespread nationalisation of key industries to smash the grip of White monopoly capital on the country’s economy; and radical improvements in the conditions of living of the working people.
It is crucial to note the world political context within which these Freedom Charter economic demands were made. The Soviet Bloc, as an alternative socialist economic model to Western capitalism, was still powerful and influential in the ordering of world human affairs.
When the Soviet Bloc collapsed in 1989, leading to the unipolar world order, the ANC was faced with the possibility of making a mistake of overstating what the NDR could achieve in transforming the capitalist economy in line with the Freedom Charter for the benefit of the poor and the working class masses.
It would also seem that the ANC, informed by a dose of political naivety of the liberation euphoria, understated the resilience of an internationally rooted system of capitalism. As a consequence, the NDR has thus far proven inadequate as a revolutionary programme to satisfactory address the economic inequalities within an admittedly powerful capitalist economy.
So this scenario presents the ANC with its Damascus moment because, changing or abandoning the NDR would mean the fundamental reconstitution of the vanguard movement for liberation in South Africa. It would mean a realisation that the role of the ANC in relation to the liberation of South Africa had become obsolete.
The question therefore is, what is to be done when faced with the political conundrum of a stagnant and incomplete revolution due to an inadequate revolutionary programme (NDR)?
This question is what should preoccupy the ANC, the Alliance and the entire Mass Democratic Movement in all their discussions, especially on the economy. The movement as lead by the ANC should make a thorough and honest appraisal of what the NDR has been able to achieve thus far (and it has achieved a lot), and ask itself whether the NDR, in view of its limitations, can achieve anything more than it already has.
From this discussion the movement will be able to chart a way forward, properly informed by the limitations and strengths of the NDR model within the current objective political milieu.
To use President Ramaphosa and certain cabinet ministers as scapegoats when faced with these difficult political and ideological challenges is opportunistic and dangerous for the ANC and the country. It means surrendering the ANC’s leadership role in the ideological struggle to chance.
The ANC cannot afford that luxury under these difficult times. The country needs an honest ANC that is able to make an honest introspection of its limitations and strengths for it to be able to lead our society.
We therefore conclude that the ANC’s problem is not president Ramaphosa, or Ministers Mboweni and Gordhan. It is the political and ideological stagnation of the ANC - due to the inadequacy of the NDR- in addressing the economic inequalities within the South African capitalist dominated economy.
So, if the ANC membership allow this political scapegoating and diversion using the current ANC president, it would have occasioned the recapture of the ANC by that corrupt element of the previous era, thus signalling the beginning of the end of the very ANC as we know it.
Mzukisi Makatse is a Member of the ANC. He writes in his personal capacity.