The soon-to-be fall of the ANC

Phumlani M. Majozi writes on Ralph Mathekga's “The ANC’s Last Decade – How the Decline of the Party will Transform South Africa”

There is no doubt that we are witnessing the decline of South Africa’s liberation and governing party, the African National Congress (ANC). The data, and the general consensus amongst pundits are crystal clear; the party of Nelson Mandela is sinking.

I see the ANC’s decline as long overdue – and have echoed that the end of this corrupt party will symbolize the growth and maturity of our democracy.

My wonderful friend Dr. Ralph Mathekga, consolidates his views on the decline of the ANC in his very informative new book, titled “The ANC’s Last Decade – How the Decline of the Party will Transform South Africa”. 

In this well-written, easy-to-read book, Mathekga argues that 2024 or 2029 will be the years the party loses power. The party’s current state of dysfunction, and how this dysfunction evolves shapes and will continue to shape South Africa’s political arena.

I found chapter five on the economic war within the ANC exhilarating to read. Mathekga writes on all the facets that are at the core of the ANC’s internal economic war. 

He writes about the economic plan that was proposed and published by Tito Mboweni’s Treasury back in August 2019. His analysis on the meaning of the plan, and how the plan was received by the ANC’s stakeholders, reminded me of my column about that plan. In that column, published on Fin24 in October 2019, I welcomed the plan and argued that it is a policy document that should have received widespread support by ANC stakeholders. Because the content of the document, made sense.

In the book, Mathekga says that the Treasury is a ministry that has been on the side of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Ralph writes, “This department, under the leadership of Tito Mboweni as Minister of Finance is the most closely aligned with Ramaphosa’s thinking on the end need for economic changes”.

In my observation, the Treasury now headed by Enoch Godongwana, and the South African Reserve Bank headed by Lesetja Kganyago, are the two sensible institutions at the moment, on the mechanisms needed for the revival of South Africa’s moribund economy. These two institutions are led by shrewd people whose opinions ought to be heeded by other state bureaucrats.

One cannot opine on the economic confusions of the ANC without the mention of the party’s affiliates, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Mathekga discusses how these organizations occasionally clash with the ANC on public policy.

Questions abound on how South Africa’s political future will evolve in a period of enormous challenges in the country’s democratic history.

Mathekga takes a look at “The Morning after Election Day 2029”, one of the chapters in the book.

On how the ANC will have to transform itself in an era of coalition politics, Ralph says that the party “might have to be flexible about some of its ideological positions to accommodate its partners."

Yes Ralph, they might have to be flexible. But what is crucial to me, is the direction their flexibility takes. If they choose to accommodate the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF’s) craziness, that will be problematic.

And then Mathekga delves into the legacy of Ramaphosa in chapter fifteen. In my assessment, Ramaphosa will be remembered as a South African President who missed a huge opportunity to be one of the most consequential statesmen in South Africa’s democratic history. I say  this because I do not see any critical, consequential, symbolic decisions from the President. Decisions that define his presidency. I see nothing significant.

Mathekga’s view is that "The consensus-driven leadership style favoured by Ramaphosa is the way forward." I respectfully disagree here with my brother. The reason things are not getting done on socio economic reform is precisely because of the lack of decisive leadership in the country. And that decisive leadership, can, come from one man that is President.

Ramaphosa's consensus-driven approach to governance does this country a disservice. Our society may be fragmented as Ralph correctly points out; but then it needs a staunch, courageous, unapologetic, charismatic, visionary leader, who will seek to unite it behind his vision. His vision, not that of the party!

As the electorate, we elect the leaders who govern our country.  At the helm is a President empowered and legitimized by the constitution. And our constitution gives colossal powers to the Presidency. The President must then capitalize on his constitutional powers to transform the country for the better. That is what leadership is.

In chapter seven, Mathekga says that the opposition is stumbling. He writes that the EFF has  a "tendency to pursue personality politics. It identifies individuals with whom it fights proxy battles to distract from problems within the party or the personal benefits that some of the EFF's leaders are experiencing". He's right. And that the EFF likes disruptions and chaos is a correct assessment.

On the Democratic Alliance (DA), he raises the issue of race often in the book.  He argues that the DA doing away with race-based redress was a blunder. I respectfully disagree here with my brother, again. I think the DA was right on this because black economic empowerment (BEE) has done nothing for South Africa's black poor. Instead, it has enriched black tycoons connected to the ANC. And that is despicable!

I did express this view of mine on race-based policy and the DA when I interviewed Ralph on the book on my YouTube channel this week. And he does acknowledge that BEE has been problematic. His major concern is that the DA doesn't have an alternative program for “racial redress”. My view is that the DA is not good at communicating its “alternative”, on “racial redress”. They can do better. I have written in my previous columns that they can do better.

Mathekga has written a very informative book. We should celebrate his genius, and history, that spring out of it. It's good written work. Please buy it.

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi