No despots here, thanks!


The complex post-apartheid epoch requires innovative thinking and well-thought-out approaches to South Africa’s problems. Irrespective of our backgrounds, the focus should be on the way forward and having seasoned leadership in all respects.

The pre-1994 mentality is doing more harm more than nation-building and a transformed mindset would enable us to rise to individual and collective challenges. Strategies and tactics applied in the past are irrelevant now.

Irrespective of their mandates, organisations  have to rigorously re-engineer themselves to become more responsive to 21st Century demands.

We need to move on changing the appalling conditions under which a large proportion of the population lives. Is it moral and ethical to have 30 million (more that half of the population) trapped in poverty? To have a small group of individuals owning and controlling the economy to the disadvantage of multitudes? This is a fundamental question and these debates should be translated into remedial action. Failure to do so may lead to political volatility with far-reaching ramifications.

Ethical and moral debates should be located within the existing socio-economic context. Discussions about ethical and thoughtful leadership tend to delink politics and socio-economic disparities, as do debates about the ANC leadership race. It has created the impression that whoever is elevated to the coveted position of President will not change the course of action.

The ANC has reached its ultimate destination. Its agenda is underpinned by the deracialisation of society within the framework of existing slanted social relations. It’s not within its mandate to qualitatively change this framework. It seeks to build a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous country within the status quo. Its role is paradoxical in that it seeks to address colonial and apartheid legacies within the same system in a new form in post-apartheid society. It complies with constitutional imperatives, but the content remains untouched. The system lacks the ability to resolve inequalities embedded in the infrastructure of the economy.

Quite often ANC “alliance partners” tend to unfairly criticise the ruling party, expecting it to pursue an ideological agenda outside its mandatory framework. In many instances their criticisms are informed by conspiratorial moves and lust for power through ANC deployment. They use this populist posture to be seen as people who can change the course of action, when all they want is to to ascend to the pound seats.

Evidence suggests that many are serving in decision-making structures of government and no change has happened. They have instead excelled in defending malfeasance. Now they realise that their actions have compromised their political reputation beyond repair, they are barking at the system.

As a strategist and tactician within a narrow organisational space, President Jacob Zuma  has been able to out-manoeuvre them in all respects. The manner in which they react to his political antics assists him to effect the art of war strategy incrementally.

The President still has some “aces” close to his chest as a last line of defence. He may make some tactical retreats giving his opponents an impression that he is vulnerable to defeat. When you’re involved in toe to toe power-play you allow your opponents to win some battles while you study their strategic weaknesses in order to unleash a final blow – and you win the war.

Dr Zweli Mkhize is correct when he says (not citing Zuma verbatim) that these factional fights have the potential to decimate the ANC. He is stating the obvious and the situation is irredeemable.

The ANC forgets that is no longer operating within an underground context. The militaristic command paradigm is not consistent with a democratic ethos. The ANC is operating within a dynamic and complex environment that requires shrewd leadership. Instead, it’s on the defensive and seems to lack the strategic initiative to move into the offensive.

It has lost the strategic intellectual centre now occupied by academics, political commentators, columnists, journalists, and public intellectuals. This means the role of the ANC is not felt in the theatre of ideas shaping the intellectual direction of the country. If the ANC had not made itself vulnerable to various forms of infiltration, it would have been able to gain its lost ground. Unfortunately the severity of infiltration has caused long-term damage to its form and content. Its fragile structures are dominated by factions controlled by a web of transnational networks.

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal political saga could, for example, escalate the already ongoing organisational rupture. Structures in that province (ANCYL, ANCWL and the ANC) have assumed a national leadership posture which is a direct challenge to a national leadership prerogative. This has been done strategically after the collapse of the national political centre. Compounding the politics of the ANC is the proliferation of ethno-nationalism, exterminating dissenting voices, the trampling of legislative requirements, the collapse of organisational discipline in all spheres, deviation from the mandate, as well as fear in the organisation amid a web of information peddlers. The environment is toxic and risky.

No matter who wins at the elective conference in December 2017, if it’s convened, no new course of action will be pursued. Let’s hope these challenges won’t spill over into the 2019 electoral processes and impact on the outcomes.

It’s my considered opinion that South Africa will emerge stronger, because it’s a unique geopolitical space which cannot be compared to other African states. The balance of forces in society in general and within critical establishments is in favour of constitutional democracy. One risks mimicking despotic models at his or or own peril.

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