ANC no longer a home for all

Douglas Gibson on the striking lack of minority representation in the ANC's top structures

President Ramaphosa’s New Year message again spoke of the need for national unity and for South Africans to work together. Fine words, but like so much else of his speeches over the past five years, just words. There is no beef patty in the hamburger.

For many years, the ANC, (the “glorious movement”), claimed to be a national movement; a broad church; a home for all. In power for nearly 30 years, it has gradually shed that pretension. The ANC has no place for the millions belonging to minority groups. Remarkably, the media refrain from pointing this out. It is no longer a non-racial or multi-racial party.

At the recent conference at Nasrec, TV viewers would have noticed that apart from Barbara Creecy there were virtually no white faces. The same goes for members of other population groups. The ANC is clearly not a home for all. Look at its MPs, ministers, MECs, councillors, and mayors.

This was confirmed by the results of the hotly contested elections for the “Top Seven.” The leadership has place only for black South Africans. Did I miss the media comment about this?

And then came the results of the National Executive (NEC) elections. It was screamingly evident that there were no Indian-South Africans, only 2 Coloured people and 1 white. The several thousand delegates from all over South Africa care nothing for diversity.

This contrasts with the raging headlines when the occasional black person leaves the DA and joins other parties. In many cases (not all), the leavers have lost internal elections or face disciplinary steps. There follows reams of criticism with doom and gloom predictions for the future of the DA because of the departure of a handful of people over a few years, some of whom suddenly become significant celebrities.

This highlights two significant facts.

Firstly, at the ANC conference it was reported that it has not just lost a member here and there. The membership of the ANC has declined over the past five years by hundreds of thousands. Former loyalists have lost faith in their party and no longer wish to devote their time and talents to the affairs of the ANC. This explains the laments (for example, from former President Thabo Mbeki) about the declining quality of their members.

Many ANC members are no longer believers and loyalists; they are careerists. They see the way to advancement and prosperity – honestly or dishonestly gained—is by joining the ANC. But for cadre deployment, where the ANC “deploys” people who are its members to every conceivable office or post in the land, there would be thousands fewer members.

The ANC likes to deny that the DA is by far the most racially mixed and representative political party in South Africa. Look at the statistics. According to Stats SA, Black South Africans make up 81%, Coloured people about 9%, Asians about 3%, Whites less than 8% of the population.

Not all white people vote for the DA; most do. According to the polls the DA has around 25% of the total votes. The DA therefore has far more Black, Coloured and Indian supporters than it has White votes. The DA is thus far more representative of the voting population than any other party. It is truly a home for all South Africans. The ANC is not.

Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com and his email is: [email protected]

This article first appeared in The Star newspaper.