The ANC is going for broke

Eugene Brink says the party is doubling down on radical policies, even as it sees its support decline

Insolvency is not something to be scoffed at. Yet, that is exactly what the ANC is doing. It is also doubling down on its moral and financial bankruptcy in its quest to salvage its shrinking support.

The party’s financial woes are no secret and have been widely reported on. From not paying its employees to its website being out of order due to service providers not being compensated, its long string of financial misconduct is glaring and seems to be worsening. It is difficult to discern whether it’s sheer incompetence (highly plausible), a lack of money (also highly plausible) or perhaps both (the most plausible reason) that are causing this, but a new court case and judgment seems to confirm that the party is set to incur big losses and could very well be liquidated.

IOL recently reported that the ruling party failed to pay Ezulweni Investments, a KwaZulu-Natal marketing company, R150 million for providing services for its 2019 election campaign. “Early this year, Ezulweni succeeded in obtaining a writ order against the party’s removable goods from the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg, to the value of R102 465 000 and sell them at public auction. The amount has since accumulated interest and stands at R150m. The lawyers say they are ready to attach assets belonging to the ruling party should the ANC fail to comply with the latest judgement,” the online publication reported. Even Luthuli House, its venerable headquarters in Johannesburg, is not safe from seizure in this case.

Its lack of funds and dubious reputation for non-payment have clearly been reflected in its threadbare exposure during the 2021 local elections. ANC posters were a rare sighting in rural areas (a stronghold of theirs) and even in the metros (where it is fighting for survival).

And the ANC-as-party is mirrored in the ANC-as-government’s financial struggles. It is an inescapable situation. Corruption, mismanagement and decay continue to thrive in municipalities, provincial and national departments, and most acutely in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). They have driven Transnet, Eskom, SAA and the SABC to ruin.                

All the while, it is going gung-ho when it comes to adopting and driving radical laws and policies while alienating important segments of the population and foreign countries. This is the case with National Health Insurance (NHI), expropriation without compensation (EWC), the Basic Education and Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, “decolonising” education and voting in parliament to close the Israeli embassy in South Africa and suspend ties with that country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has even gone as far as to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and accusing it of war crimes. The ANC is turning a blind eye to what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, while Israel had a much more compelling reason to fight Hamas in the West Bank than Russia had in waging war against Ukraine. Not even Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Israel of war crimes.

Of course, this is mainly done to placate black people, and the poor in particular, before next year’s elections. But NHI, a wayward foreign policy, and eroding a natural right such as mother-tongue education through the BELA Bill will not solve the root causes of the challenges the poor face in this country. It might just exacerbate them in numerous ways. EWC and NHI will cripple investment, the economy and the health sector. And yet, the ANC (not known for their decisiveness and efficiency on anything that requires it) is making haste with them like their lives suddenly depend on it. The problem is that their salaries and lifestyles depend on it, while our lives depend on it.      

They tear at South Africa’s social fabric because to the socialist’s mind, there must be some perceived foes to justify their actions and existence. These enemies predictably include whites (Afrikaners and Jews in particular), racial minorities in general, black people who don’t toe the Party line or suffer from excessive victimhood, and the business sector.

Essentially, everybody who possesses something (whether it be knowledge, property or some other valuable commodity) and do not rely on government largesse and employment, is anathema to them. Control and conformation are their stock-in-trade and not even (especially?) taxes, gumption and achievements will redeem you. Small wonder that the unemployment rate is so high: The ruling party incentivises the wrong things, and disincentivises all the right ones.  

All the while, Ramaphosa and ANC secretary General Fikile Mbalula (or Chat GPT, for that matter) are spewing pure fantasy on social media and celebrate even the most embarrassingly trivial successes (the president recently inaugurated a working tap in KwaZulu-Natal).      

The question is whether their moral and financial bankruptcy will translate into political bankruptcy at the polls. All indications are that they will pay a price, but it is uncertain how bad the bleeding will be and what the post-election landscape will look like. It’s a very fickle business. All I know is that they’re doing everything except fix the quagmire that they have created. They might just break themselves in the process, but so too South Africa.

Dr Eugene Brink is an entrepreneur, business consultant and independent analyst based in Paarl.