Yes, the ANC has changed... for the better

Andile Lungisa says that unlike some other liberation movements the ANC has been able to adapt

I ANC Ayisafani!

For the first time in my life I have to agree with the neo-liberal, right wing Democratic Alliance that indeed i ANC Ayisafani (it is not the same), in-fact I must commend the DA for such diligence in keeping track of the "changes" in the ANC. One of the reasons the African National Congress (ANC) has defied the trend most followed by some former liberation movements to wither away into political oblivion is its ability to adapt to constant changing political and economic conditions. It is its ability to reflect and cleanse itself where necessary while remaining true to its core and democratic spirit.

20 years into democracy, it does not take an avid reader or keen observer to see and realise that the lives of millions of South Africans have changed for the better. Census 2011 indicates that more South Africans are getting educated, one of the key indicators of progress and development by any measure. To drive the point home, the results also show that the proportion of individuals aged 20 years and older that have received no formal education has decreased steadily between 1996 and 2011.

The proportion of persons who had completed their secondary education (matric) or higher increased from 23.4% in 1996 to 40.5% in 2011, the report states. Such improvements in education have also been clearly demonstrated by the gradual increase in the matric pass rate with the 2013 class recording a record 78.2%, the highest matric pass rate yet.

This is by far the biggest investment the ANC led government has made in recognition of the need to focus on education with the biggest beneficiaries being the youth. Prior to 1994 there was no deliberate effort to develop the lives of young South Africa, only after have mechanisms been put in place, from an enabling policy environment, to establishment of institutions.

Today young South Africans not only create employment for themselves but for others as well, a change no one could have ever imagined. South African youth are entering and changing the world. Ludwick Marishane dubbed "the best student entrepreneur in the world" was named by Google among the 12 most intelligent young brains in the universe. He is the founder and Chief of Headboy Industries, and is South Africa's youngest patent filer after having invented DryBath at the age of 17. He is one of many young people that have accepted a call by the democratic South Africa that says "Be what you want to be".

When the ANC came to power in 1994 it had no experience to govern - to its credit 20 years later it has changed the lives of millions of South Africans in general and young people in particular. 20 years later we are no experimenting with the lives of the 51 million South Africans, but building on the gains we have recorded since 1994 when we began a journey to eradicate the apartheid legacy. The commitment of the ANC to follow the constitution to the latter is well documented including it its establishment and support constitutional bodies like the Public Protector.

In true opportunist style, the likes of the DA continue to masquerade as the defenders of such institutions as if they are under threat and nothing could be further from the truth. This in-fact comes as no surprise if you consider that they also claim to understand the plight of the African child better than the African himself. Meanwhile in practice, this is the same organisation whose leader continues to call the African child a refugee in a country of his birth.

Despite the need to redistribute land, unlike those threatening to expropriate land without compensation, the ANC has not taken reckless steps in its quest to redistribute land; a clear demonstration of its respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. This by no means suggest a meek approach to the critical question of land, hence the various mechanisms including the introduction of a land valuer general.

It is by no means an accident of history, but by pure design that the ANC every 5 years as part of its National Conference discussion documents examines its Strategy and Tactics as well as the prevailing Balance of Forces. An understanding of the balance of forces help reflect on changes in the terrain of struggle, identify potential obstacles, as well as opportunities in reaching set objectives. In the end, Strategy and Tactics and our understanding of the balance of forces at a given moment must enable us (the ANC) to move the struggle decisively forward.

For much too long, doomsayers have professed and foretold a fable that the ANC was poised to tear itself apart. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper in 2011 ANC veteran Pallo Jordan said: One has heard it all before and one by one the prophets of doom have always been proved wrong. There is misunderstanding of the character of the movement, especially by the commentators you get in the daily press. Many of them have never been in political movements, so when they hear a heated argument, they assume, This is it! Well the arguments end and people carry on!".

Indeed I ANC ayisafani. The experience that came with being a liberation movement, now a party in government, its successful delivery record, a key player in both domestic and international political economics has made it better, wiser and stronger.

No amount of Obama theatrics by opposition parties and Sankara like posturing will ever confuse the people of South Africa to the true character of the ANC and what it stands for in relation to the ongoing programme of further improving the lives of the millions of South Africans black and white.

Andile Lungisa is former ANC Youth League Deputy President and former Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency and Pan African Youth Union.

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