ANC divisions continue to deepen - Wilmot James

DA MP says ruling party continues to be at war with itself

Things fall apart: ANC rift lines continue to deepen

Every day seems to bring a new division within the ANC. Today, it is ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema who once again seems bent on publicly undermining the ANC by casting doubts on President Jacob Zuma's judgement and leadership.

This latest sign of discord underscores yet again that the ANC is at war with itself. And the consequences of a party at war with itself is that it is  incapable of delivering to its constituency.

There has been a significant increase in the public airing of grievances among members of the tripartite alliance of late. Julius Malema's attack on the ANC government's foreign policy, in which he accuses President Zuma of siding with "imperialists" in supporting the UN resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, follows a number of mud-slinging contests among high-profile alliance members of late. To recap:

Trevor Manuel started it off with a public letter to government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi, accusing him of being a racist "in the mould of HF Verwoerd."

Mr Manuel was in turn rebuked by both ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and Paul Ngobeni, legal advisor to Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who wrote an open letter accusing Mr Manuel of behaving in "gangster-like fashion" and acting as if he was "king of the coloured people".

Yet the rot runs far deeper than these polarising race-based conflicts. Since Polokwane, the support base that enabled Jacob Zuma to be elected president has been steadily eroding. Both the ANC Youth League and Cosatu have been quite open about their disapproval of Zuma administration policies, ranging from nationalisation to labour reform. Julius Malema and Cosatu Secretary-General Zwelinzima Vavi have both become increasingly, and publicly, critical of the man who became president largely through their support.

The provinces are becoming progressively more fractured, with new factions erupting almost daily. Cosatu is flexing its muscle in the Western Cape with a push to get provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich nominated as the ANC's mayoral candidate for Cape Town. Unhappiness with candidate selection processes has resulted in protests against the ANC in provinces like the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West.

National policy is hampered by the failure of key ministers to come up with a consolidated vision on how South Africa's economy should be structured, and how to create the millions of jobs required to boost the economy. Presidency ministers Collins Chabane and Trevor Manuel seem unable to see eye to eye on economic policy.Public institutions have not been immune to the infighting either, with the SAPS "raiding" the Public Protector's office, the Scorpions shut down for investigating high-level corruption among the ANC elite, and the National Prosecuting Authority seemingly incapable of carrying out its mandate.

And in the mist of all this, President Zuma maintains a serene silence, refusing to become involved, refusing to show any real leadership. Perhaps he hopes that by remaining silent he will not alienate any of his allies. This is patently not working.

In trying to please all his allies all of the time, the president has effectively paralysed himself and his government, and has ended up pleasing no-one. His administration can at best be described as ineffective and directionless; by eschewing principal in favour of pragmatism, it has become something of a lame duck. And lame ducks are sitting targets.

So far, the casualties in the ANC's war with itself have been the people of South Africa, who have borne the brunt of the party's failure to deliver. They now face a choice: continue to be hapless victims of a party that cannot deliver on what is has promised, or take aim at the perpetrators of these broken promises and vote them out of power.

Statement issued by Dr Wilmot James MP, DA Federal Chairperson, March 29 2011

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