The ANC won't change

David Bullard says our ruling party will simply carry on as it has always done


Rather predictably the ANC policy conference which took place last week was yet further proof that the ‘ruling party’ isn’t fit to run a spaza shop let alone a country.

At least the party leaders now admit that the ANC is in decline but they clearly haven’t a clue what to do about it.

One obvious solution they came up with to kick the can even further down the road is to appoint yet another committee to advise on the party’s ‘renewal’ ahead of the elective conference in December.

The ANC loves appointing committees because it makes it look as though they are actually doing something. This is fairly important in an inefficient groaning edifice like the ANC. In fact it’s fairly important in any corporate environment. Perception is everything and it beats performance any day.  ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Years ago I knew a chap who always had two jackets made when he ordered a bespoke suit. The usual thing to do was to order two pairs of trousers because they wear out faster and if you rotate the trouser use the suit theoretically lasts longer.

His rationale for ordering two jackets was quite simple. He wasn’t the hardest worker in the company and he enjoyed popping out for a drink mid morning.

So he left one jacket permanently on the back of his office chair and if anyone asked where he was the assumption was that he must be around the office somewhere because his jacket is here. It worked like a charm but I never did figure out what he did with the second jacket he must have been wearing when he returned from his morning drink.

The ANC has become masterful over the past twenty-eight years at looking terribly busy but actually achieving nothing. Whatever policies they had have turned out to be disastrous for the entire country as we are all finding to our cost.

Hell, even the delegates at last week’s ‘Wafflefest’ were demanding to know what had happened to the policy decisions made way back in 2017. In a brief moment of clarity they even made the point that there was no sense in making new policy resolutions if the last set of policy resolutions, assuming anyone could even remember what they were, hadn’t been implemented.

Pres Frogboiler was obviously in for a rough ride and anticipating this he kicked the conference off with these words of comfort:

“We will demonstrate, in accordance with ANC tradition, that where we might have different views and approaches on various matters, we are always able to build consensus and emerge with coherent policy positions”.

The problem with that statement is that it’s simply not true. The various ANC factions are constantly scrapping among themselves and are rarely able to build consensus and if a coherent policy position (other than state capture) has emerged in the past fifteen years then I must have missed it.

What became clear in comments from the delegates is that there is much concern about the ‘step-aside’ rule. The culture of the ANC is such that corruption and financial chicanery are now regarded as one of the perks of political office. The fact that somebody has given a tender to an unqualified family member, re-routed money intended to uplift a desperate community into a personal bank account or accepted kickbacks in return for political favours shouldn’t preclude them from future high office. It is an opinion widely held among the higher echelons of the party and the idea that somebody should step aside just because they have been accused (and probably caught red-handed) of having their fingers in the cookie jar is clearly absurd.

The principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is frequently invoked by those with severely tainted reputations but that principle only works if you have a properly functioning legal system that people actually believe in. Sadly, we are not in that happy position and our track record of successful prosecutions of dishonest politicians is lamentable.

In fact the only one I can think of is the fraudster Tony Yengeni who served a mere four months of a four year prison sentence back in 2006, most of it in some degree of comfort at Malmesbury Prison after he was transferred from Pollsmoor. In 2018 he was made the chairperson of the ANC’s Crime and Corruption Committee. Hardly the sort of thing to give you great confidence in either our government or our judicial system is it?

So with the likes of Yengeni as a role model is it any wonder that the majority of ANC members are completely relaxed when it comes to matters of corruption and dishonesty safe in the knowledge that, if caught, there won’t be a prosecution. Or if there is a prosecution it won’t come to court. Or if it does come to court some delaying tactic will be found, such as sacking your lawyers on the morning of the hearing or deliberately not having documents ready and asking the court for an adjournment.

And if by some freak occurrence the case does come to court and some loyal cadre is found guilty then prepare for a few burning tyres at the court entrance and death threats against the judge.

There may be much handwringing going on within the ANC about how the party is at its weakest point in history but there’s clearly no plan to reverse that trend and, let’s be honest, very little real desire to do so.

The sewage may flow in the township streets, unemployment may be about to get much worse, the railway lines may have been ripped up, the public health system may be collapsing but this is of little consequence if you’ve just taken delivery of your new BMW 7 series as the newly appointed mayor of some dysfunctional municipality. That is the deep-rooted ANC culture, encouraged by the party leaders over many years, and how could we expect things to be any different?

So ignore the frequent promises that the corrupt will be brought to justice because they won’t. Not because there isn’t an enormous amount of evidence courtesy of the Zondo commission to prosecute them but because the ANC doesn’t wish it to be so.

And who would want to run the personal risk of being a prosecutor or a judge in a political corruption case? As former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela wrote in a column last weekend lamenting our possible descent into a Mafia state:

“In the state capture defence scenario, those championing corruption accountability are branded agents of white monopoly capital: sell-outs.”

The grim reality is that we already live in a gangster run state and the gangsters are all powerful and know they have nothing to fear. The ANC may well lose votes in the 2024 election, depending on which faction wins at the elective conference in December, but there’s no guarantee they would hand over power without a fight.

Then there’s also a question of who is waiting in the wings to consider and whether the devil we know may not be the better option. Thabo Mbeki recently predicted an ‘Arab Spring’ style uprising if things don’t improve for the majority of South Africans.

Not to be outdone, the self-styled EFF Commander-in-Chief Julius Malema made a similar prediction during the 9th birthday celebrations of his party last week.

Talking on the BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ programme he said that when the unled revolution takes place “the first target is going to be white people”. That should do wonders for foreign investment in the country.


On a lighter note I was hoping to read some online report of the Gala dinner the ANC held on the first evening of their policy conference but I have been sorely disappointed.

Other than a piece describing how unpaid ANC staff picketed the event as a protest at the gross injustice of fellow party members feeding their faces, quaffing wine and generally having a good time while the great unpaid can’t afford to put food on the table.

While I feel very sorry for those staff members who haven’t been paid for two months I do think it’s necessary to point out that this is the very essence of the communism and socialism that they’ve bought into. As Mr Orwell wrote in ‘Animal Farm’... “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.

However, my main interest in the Gala dinner was to try and find out who, if anyone, had accepted the invitation to stump up the sum of R1mln to dine at the top table. Or indeed, who had stumped up lesser amounts to enjoy the company of more lowly party officials. One would have thought that this would have been eminently newsworthy and a headline along the lines of “SA billionaire Rob Hersov seen sharing a joke with fellow billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa” would have been guaranteed click-bait.

Sadly though there have been no reports which can mean only one of two things. Either the ANC have been unusually clever in protecting the identity of their financial benefactors this time around or, more likely, the response to the invitation was rather disappointing.

Which might also suggest that those with that sort of money to splash around see no long-term value in forging commercial bonds with the current ANC leadership.