Rebuilding the ANC in Gauteng

Mugabe Ratshikuni says only the ANC, with its progressive aspirations and programmes, will be able to resolve society’s problems

A Better ANC for a more improved Gauteng City Region

1 July 2022

We came together over the course of this past weekend and elected a new top five provincial leadership for the ANC in Gauteng, at a time when society at large is increasingly mistrusting of us as an organisation, disappointed with our efforts to qualitatively transform their lives and disillusioned with the political system at large, believing that it serves the narrow interests of an elite, connected few at the expense of the majority, most of whom are impoverished and living in squalor.

Increasingly, the pursuit of a national democratic society appears to have gone the way of the character Sisyphus from ancient Greek mythology, but alas, as an organisation of revolutionary democrats that seeks to quintessentially transform South African society, ours is to not only carry the flame of hope amidst an atmosphere of doom and despondency, but more importantly to provide leadership by primarily being solution providers, problem solvers to the manifold problems of society in a manner that drastically transforms their material conditions and lived reality.

Our focus should be on improving our capacity to lead and organise society as well as pro-actively respond to the challenges society is faced with, in line with Freedom Charter ideals and principles. Sunday 26th of June 2022, marked the 67th anniversary of the Freedom Charter. We must do better at providing decent shelter to people, access to decent housing and improved living conditions, in line with the Freedom Charter.

The many policies and programmes that we have put in place to provide decent shelter have made an impact in terms of the quality of life of citizens, as studies by the Gauteng City Region Observatory have shown, but ever-increasing housing demand means that we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to up the ante, increase the pace so that many more Gauteng citizens can have the benefit of truly experiencing this Freedom Charter ideal.

The Freedom Charter also enjoins us to seek to improve access to education for all in society, with much progress having been made in providing the most impoverished in our society with opportunities to pursue an education, but the long queues we see each beginning of the year as kids come to Gauteng looking for better schooling opportunities at both a tertiary and school level, mean that we in Gauteng are seized with finding creative solutions to this issue that will benefit not only those from Gauteng, but given the strategic nature of our province, the rest of the country too.

The high unemployment rate, especially amongst young people in our province, almost makes a mockery of our commitment to advancing the Freedom Charter ideal of the right to work for all, and again it falls upon us as a revolutionary movement to see how we can break this impasse and deal with stubborn, persistently high unemployment levels.

Highlighting these three commitments from the Freedom Charter serves the purpose of reminding us of the importance of building a strong, united, well-functioning ANC, because it is only the ANC with its progressive aspirations and programmes that will be able to resolve society’s problems in a long-lasting manner.

It is important that we rebuild, renew, and intentionally invest in building the capacity of the ANC so that we enhance its ability to deliver thorough-going socio-economic transformation. We must modernise the ANC and create an alliance of social forces that are aligned to our progressive values that will help advance the transformation agenda.,

We need to invest in our institutional capacity as an organisation to enable us to intervene strategically and decisively within the various stratas of our society so that we can attain our revolutionary objectives. The ANC, under our watch, should become the primary driver of socio-economic transformation and the growth and development of our economy in a manner that benefits the majority, and this can be achieved through a shift in ideas and approach about our pursuit of socio-economic transformation.

Ours is to find more creative and innovative ways to break down the exclusionary form of democracy, which has left most of our citizens believing that the system is against them, leading to a disengagement from democratic processes, as they are not seen to be effective in helping address material realities.

We need to show society that we have the new ideas and fresh thinking that will help us with our stagnant economy, our internal capacity to direct and drive the economy should be enhanced, specifically given that we live in a province that is an economic hub and a cultural pulse setter. “It’s the economy, stupid” to quote a famous line that helped win Bill Clinton a US presidential election. May that be our mantra even as we look outwards towards national and provincial elections in 2024.

Let us take the ANC back to the people, by building activist branches that attend to the felt needs of those within communities and society. Our emphasis should be on developing a membership and leadership of cutting-edge activists that are grounded in communities and create novel solutions to the complex problems society is faced with.

To address the problem of voter confidence in the organisation being in a state of serious decline, as evidenced by our performance at the polls in the past couple of elections in the province will require that we not only fix ourselves internally as an organisation, but whilst doing that, become more expertly skilled at fixing the problems in society, many of which are attributed to us and our failings.

Lastly, may we heed the words of author, Ayi Kwei Armah in his novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, when he says, “Alone, I am nothing, I have nothing. We have power, but we will never know it, we will never see it work unless we come together to make it work.”  As ANC members in Gauteng, we must all unite under a revolutionary programme to win back the hearts and minds of the people of Gauteng, to do better in governance as a party so that we can deliver basic services more effectively and efficiently, to change negative perceptions about the ANC so that come 2024, we can show tangible, substantive achievements that form the basis of our confidence to go to society and ask them to vote for us.

Mugabe Ratshikuni is a senior manager within the Gauteng provincial government. He is an ANC activist and part of the branch leadership of ANC Florence Mophosho branch, Ward 115, Greater Johannesburg Region. He was a voting delegate at the past weekend’s ANC Gauteng provincial conference and he writes here in his personal capacity.