ANC’s January 8th Statement 2022: A Birthday or a Requiem

Let me declare upfront, I am one among plenty children, who were born in exile. Owing to the latter reason I congradulate the ANC on its 110th anniversary however its age doesn’t change my reservations about its liberation credentials as a movement in Africa. To be frank, the ANC’s fête is acknowledged however its members must not suffer from selected amnesia in terms of its track record especially since June 1955 when they adopted that sell out constitution called The Freedom Charter. To date we must recall, that ANC’s campaign slogan, ‘a good story to tell’ is part of ahistorical rhetoric. Within this milestone year of the 110th birthday of the ANC, I hereby undertake to reflect about the relevance of the ANC, as a ruling political party at the helm of governance in Azania, since 1994. My contemplation is triggered by the ANC’s January 8th Statement 2022, as it amongst others has inspired thoughts, which may be linked to the countdown, towards the imminent 2024 national elections. 

Firstly, the blurred distinction or conflation between party and state in Azania, cannot be understated. Those who listened to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech or read the 32 pages, of the ANC’s January 8th Statement of 2022 (which is a collective statement of the National Executive Committee of the ANC), themed as The Year of Unity and Renewal to Defend and Advance South Africa’s Democratic Gains, ought to have witnessed the inertia of the ANC. Both ANC supporters and critics alike, must contemplate ANC’s relevance from 2022 onward. I opine that part of the latter, involves ascertaining ANC’s use or misuse of words such as ‘renewal’ (addressed as part of ANC’s priorities of 2022 in this year’s statement). Clarity is sought beyond confusing the promotion of factionalizing assertions via deceptive jargon, first in reference to former President Jacob Zuma’s’ ‘9 wasted years’ and now to incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘4 wasted years’. I argue that a more sobering scenario, is that of ANC’s ‘wasted 28 years’, as a governing political party in the social construct known as South Africa. Efforts to decolonise ourselves by considering to be renamed as Azania must proceed.

According to this year’s ANC January 8th statement “renewal is both about modernizing the movement’s internal systems and practices as well as ridding it of elements and practices that disregard its organizational ethos, principles and discipline” (pg.16). The people of Azania have to date realized, that the latter forms part of ANC’s embarrassing rhetoric. To support my aforesaid statement, a typical rebuttal to ANC’s above quote may be brought afore in a form of a question – can the ANC explain why it took so long to realize the necessity of having an Integrity Committee, as recent as in 2018? Some of us in academia are still puzzled, as to who conferred a professorship to the ANC’s Integrity Committee chair George Mashamba, as his arrest amongst others alongside his fellow comrade ANC Sibusiso Ndebele, led him to Robben Island, when he was still pursuing his master’s degree in Philosophy, at Turfloop (today University of Limpopo). Also would the ANC care to share its progress report, on cases that have led to tangible results, as suggested by the broad articulation of ANC, in line with its self-defined ‘renewal. The Azanian public can also pose the following question, why did it have to take former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture Report (2016), to finally compel former President Zuma, to sign the officialisation of what we since August 2018, have witnessed in our colloquial jargon as The Zondo Commission

This year’s ANC January 8th statement was presented, under four key subheadings, namely 1) South Africa and ANC in 2022 (pgs. 2-5); 2) Priorities for ANC in 2022 (pgs. 5-24); 3) Tasks of ANC Structures and Members (pgs. 24-29) and 4) Commemorations and Tributes (pgs. 29-31). The first part referred to elements, to do with understanding the domestic and global environment. It referred to three various elements of the current status quo, the first was the element of Covid-19 and its repercussions (citing more than 92 000 fatalities and trauma). The second element, was the severely damaged economy (referred to “millions being unemployed”, “rate of economic recovery not being optimal” and “lack of resources to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Women and the youth bearing such adversity”). Although this is further unpacked, in this January 8th statement 2022, we must ask some ostensible beneficiaries, namely such as women and youth groups, about their familiarity with ANC or government programs. The grave statistics recording cases of abuse and incredibly high percentage of unemployment of the latter, leaves no room to conceal ANC’s negligence.

A Social Compact is proposed as a solution to help revive the economy and the “disturbance of rebuilding the Democratic State after years of State Capture”. If you are interested to secure proof of how misplaced the ANC’s policies have been, regarding growing Azania’s economy, you can rest assured that this proposed Social Compact in this year’s ANC statement, is consistent with the ANC’s standard depraved practice on financial matters. A practice that lacks original imagination and subscribes to foreign economic models. Just in case you doubt my take, please be reminded about the inapt previous economic policies of the ANC government from 1994. Examples include the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) under former President Nelson Mandela, the Growth Employment and Redistribution Policy (GEAR) and Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA) – all under former President Thabo Mbeki. Presently talks of the National Development Plan (2030) are gradually, losing their momentum. It will be fascinating to observe, once the announced ANC NEC’s envisaged “Commission to develop a roadmap for the movement toward its 120th anniversary in 2032” is set up, at the end of January 2022. Pardon the back and forth however the latter is the key takeaway, under section two, specifically under the subtitle of Accelerate Fundamental Renewal and Rebuilding of the ANC.

The third element of the present status mquo was said to entail “challenges facing the ANC, acknowledgement of ANC structures being in a poor state…many focused on internal organisation conflicts, factionalism and furthering self-interests of individual leaders rather than aspirations of the communities they are meant to serve”. Here once more ANC ‘renewal’ was urged. Some blame was amusingly apportioned for the above internal shenanigans to opposition parties. How myopic of the ANC. If anything all the aforesaid predictably hints at how President Ramaphosa’s faction, colloquially nicknamed ‘CR17’, is metamorphing, to become the ‘CR22’ faction. The opposing faction, are dubbed as ANC members, aligned to a fictitious Radical Economic Transformation (RET). Mindful of such petty posturing, I found the following words quite telling “No resistance and even from within our ranks, can force us to abandon the cause of truly being the ANC of the people. Anyone note the internal code, declaring a reminder to all who care to hear, about who’s the boss of ANC. To be clearer, the CR22 camp will do everything in its might, to achieve their ambitions for the re-election of incumbent President Ramaphosa, at the ANC’s 55th Conference in December 2022.

Other examples of ANC’s rhetoric were articulated, in sections three of the January 8th Statement of 2022. The latter section covered two points, under the subtitle ‘Tasks of ANC structures and members’. Under point 3.1, ANC members were urged to work towards ANC renewal and under point 3.2, emphasis was made towards placing agency to realize the earlier stated Social Compact. Apparently this section emphasized reasons of overcoming unemployment, poverty and inequality. Let it be known that South Africa has become the ‘poster boy’, in the list of the most unequal countries in the world since June 2010. The first part of the Zondo commission, ought to be read as simply the latest evidence of malfeasance, which may illustrate the ANC’s failure regarding matters of the South African economy. The fourth segment is a metaphor, of how much the ANC will continue their problematic practice of relying upon nostalgia about their glorious past. Although the ANC reserves the right to commemorate selected past victories, they should however tone that down in favour of priotizing the much needed agency, towards implementing its present conference resolutions. 

In other words seriousness about ANC’s renewal, must be more forward looking, as they host their scheduled commemorations, throughout 2022. Of all the tributes listed due in 2022, two stood out. The first was the 60th Anniversary of the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK). The allegations levelled against ANC officials at the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), may sum up ANC’s negligence of their own Umkhonto WeSizwe Veterans Association (MKVA). That is one of the tangible structures along with the demise of the ANC Youth League, which highlight the ANC NEC’s failure to their own fellow comrades, who make up those structures. The second listed tribute is the 10th Anniversary of the Marikana Tragedy, were 44 people were killed by the South African Police (SAPS). The complicit role known to have been played, by the incumbent President of the ANC on the latter saga, consolidates ANC’s lopsided memory. Such selected amnesia exposes the ANC’s flimsy rhetoric about renewal. Mindful of all the above, it’s curious if the ANC’s 110th birthday, did not simultaneously serve as the requiem of the ANC, as an unfit political party which must not contest in the 2024 national elections. The yesteryear spirit, captured in the Aluta Continua mantra has execrably been forsaken. Pan-Africanists must rise, in order for the Azania we seek to emerge.

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies (AMCHES) and a Research Associate at the African Center for Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (ACEPS).