Brent Meersman
Brent Meersman


After the release of the National Development Plan (NDP) late 2011, the alliterative 2012 seemed to hold much promise. But it became a year of talk shops. For the first time ever, the national policy and elective conferences of the ANC, SACP, and Cosatu all fell in the same year. There was no implementing the NDP. Now at the end of 2012, once again hopes are raised; at Mangaung, President Zuma relaunched the NDP creating space for some cautious optimism.

The long road to the ANC’s 53rd elective conference had stretched the party and its alliance partners almost to breaking point. But the ANC leadership held against the most sustained populist onslaught it has had to weather since coming to power.

Those not purged at Polokwane, those not of the Zuma camp (roughly represented by about 900 of the 4 000 delegates) had their vain hopes to loosen the half nelson grip in which Jacob Zuma now holds the party dashed.

The outcome of Mangaung was in terms of political expediency the best possible result for the ANC: continuity maintained, internal dissension firmly quashed, a deputy to lend it some dignity. Zuma will no doubt lead his corpse bride to victory in 2014.

In the longer term however it will prove with hindsight to have been another symptom of the relentless process of desiccation at work in a steadily ossifying body politic. The internal election procedures on which the ANC prides itself have never in the history of the party seen such brazen gerrymandering. It was the party’s most crooked election to date. At grassroots level some simply do not accept the result. Yet, successful court applications and other legal threats it seems will not halt this Zanufication process.

When he was its president, Nelson Mandela warned the party against electing unopposed candidates. It would have played extremely badly – in the eyes of the world too – had Zuma stood unopposed like Mugabe. But Zuma’s trusty old seat-warmer came to the rescue. As he did as interim president, Kgalema Motlanthe served his function. His lacklustre campaign suggests that this was a sham challenge all along, possibly a backroom deal, a straw man for Zuma’s opponents – a man whose most ambitious action was to withdraw his candidacy for deputy president.

For all the talk of a principled stance, Motlanthe must have been well aware that had he actually challenged Zuma for real, combined with the suspect credibility of the internal election process, he might have risked tipping the party into a Cope-style leadership rivalry, something clearly not in his interest.

Before Mangaung, the punditry were conflicted about Cyril Ramaphosa’s possible candidacy. Some thought the buffalo man was history after the Marikana massacre. They forgot that among the delegates gathered in the Mangaung tent, the shooting of renegade non-ANC affiliated miners is met with some approval.

Others wagered that the deputy presidency would be beneath Ramaphosa, he’d wait to challenge for president. But the Tammany Hall of the ANC elite had realised, and convinced the president, that Ramaphosa was the ideal candidate to shore up the ANC’s deteriorating image in a world that had once put it on a pedestal. Foreign investment has all but dried up.

While Zuma pursues his backward constituency (the only growth area in the party, shoring up the electoral defections elsewhere in the country), someone with lots of inoffensive bling has to stop the haemorrhage of middle-class urban voters Mbeki worked so hard to engineer. Need one mention that in assuming the deputy presidency Ramaphosa has the platform to rehabilitate his dented political reputation outside the tent (he may well be our president one day) and is at liberty to directly pursue what is in his best interests as a business mogul.

The one incontrovertible thing the ANC had managed to give South Africa since it came to power was stability. But with so-called “popcorn protests” springing up all over the country and more strike action than there was under apartheid, many are losing faith.

It should be of great concern to the ANC rank and file that the extremely poor and low contestation for the top six positions in their party shows a political culture that is less self-examining, less open, less democratic than it was even under the high-handed Thabo Mbeki.

Having gutted his former comrade at Polokwane and expelled his most vociferous hecklers in the youth league, the man who inspired the exodus to Cope, Jacob Zuma, could safely lecture delegates on how “unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded”. Having secured the presidency at any cost, because it is the only thing he has standing between him and an arrest warrant for corruption, Zuma could grandstand about how “we can stop corruption in its tracks”. The man with a R238 million safe house and profligate domestic arrangements spoke of “deep and glaring” inequality.

Whatever one’s sentiments about the ANC, the fact is it will (and must) inevitably decline now that it is no longer a liberation movement but a political party without the oxygen of revolution. It no longer has a sure ideological footing, it mistrusts its own steps. The decadent squander of the centenary celebrations failed to re-inspire the masses. And by supressing the youth league the party has cut off its blood supply (even if it was the wrong blood type).

Today, the Zuma ANC is like most political parties the world over – obsessed with its own factions, money and positions. It may only be whispered in private, but it is the reason why so many from the venerable past have fallen silent.

The danger is that if it loses its democratic culture and resists historical processes as inexorable as they are beyond the control of any one of us, it will morph into something like Zanu-PF. Will the day come, when our revolution too, like so many before it, eats its own children?

For now, that precious space, shrinking as it is, between the ANC as party and the ANC as government, is our saving grace.

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  • Part 6 of 6: Speeches
    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      I would be a lot more impressed with our analysts/journalists if anyone had got the outcome correct, especially the return of Cyril, BEFORE Mangaung.

      Hindsight is perfect vision.

    • Paul Whelan

      Fine, though I’d ask a couple of questions.

      It matters some, of course, but does it make any difference to the rest of us whether the ANC operates ‘democratically’ internally? Many say so. But SA is a monocracy and gets the president a winning caucus appoints after a fight, whether the process is democratic or not. I share the view that Mr Motlanthe’s campaign was stage-managed, especially so at the death. Mangaung was a non-event in terms of the leadership contest. The country can only move closer to ‘democracy’ when it has sufficient faith in a party to replace the ANC as government

      Until then, there remains little difference between the state and party in SA, for all the hair-splitting about the issue. Ironically – or hopefully – this may be about to change after Mangaung. SA needs an executive arm tough and purposeful enough to put the party back in its box. We’ll see. Is Mr Ramaphosa is the man to give the lead on it at last?

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Mandela’s Unity Government Theories are One Party State Communism

      Unity Government is Communism re-named; and the reason why Mandela and Mbeki strengthen ties with Communist China after their original sponsor Communist Russia collapsed.

      Mandela’s Ubuntu Theories are Pan Africanist Kwanzaa Cult Mythology

      Firstly Ubuntu is a BANTU word, used by SOME of the Bantu Tribes, and only half the tribes of Africa are Bantu – the rest come from different ethnic groups and cultures.

      Secondly Ubuntu means Tribe First – only your own tribe are people, everyone else is sub-human which is universal human nature everywhere on earth.

      Chief Luthuli opposed BOTH Communism AND Pan Africanism

      So obviously this ANC is NOT the Real, Original ANC

      The Ubuntu and Unity Government myths keep Mugabe, and the rest of Africa’s dictators, in power.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Africa’s borders were drawn with no relationship to tribal boundaries.

      Which was bad enough and landed up with a nomadic tribe like the Taureg being cut up between 3 countries totally destroying their lifestyle.

      But far, far, far worse was the Black Diaspora Pan Africanist Myth that Africa needed NO borders in order to recreate a Mythical Historical Africa of One Tribe and One Culture.

      The Pan Africanist Kwanzaa Cult Myth is an insult to MY ancestors
      And to the ancestors of all White Africans who fought the Arab-Americas trade in Black Slaves

      Mandela and Mbeki are both Pan Africanist Kwanzaa Cultists
      Which is why they are so popular in the Black Diaspora.

      Zuma is neither a Black Racist nor a Kwanzaa Cultist, but a Tribal Zulu who is totally aware of the tribal divides of Africa.

    • Paul Whelan

      As Lyndall’s comments make clear, ‘unity’ is neither possible nor desirable in this world: calls for it under one heading or another are only the different ways and means elites have of putting some acceptable face on the struggle for power. ‘Democracy’ as a form of government is not about unity at all but plurality and change and about how to manage both peaceably.

      As for the sudden re-emergence of Mr Ramaphosa at Mangaung to proviide stability, none could have foreseen it except the very few who were the arrangers of it (whether from way back or as a last minute inspiration the history books will tell), which would have included, first, Mr Zuma himself of course. It was a brilliant move, crowning a highly successful congress for the ANC and we must wait to seevnow if Mr Ramaphosa delivers. He at least and at last has the chance.

    • Benzo

      “It may only be whispered in private, but it is the reason why so many from the venerable past have fallen silent….”

      What venerable past and who precisely have fallen silent???

      Real democracy is based on a multi party government where socio/political differences (labour, liberal and social issues) can and will be discussed in public and/or in parliament.

      In SA’s political system, only voters can achieve that. With the elsewhere discussed voters political apathy, creating such a system will take some doing: decades in time or a serious African revolution unless the population wakes up to the might of elections before those can be manipulated by the reigning powers. History under the NP has shown the result of population political apathy.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, will you stop the myth the myth about the trans -Atlantic slave trade and only the Americans and Arabs took part in it. England went to war with Spain to gain control of the slave trade. The US profited from the slave trade, European countries profited from the slave trade but, the Africans got peanuts.

      Speaking of Zuma, this guy has no political belief except, to go with the flow. Zuma is on the side that will make his day and nothing else. The ANC has set up an economy of extraction and this is why they turned to resource poor China. The SA trade with China is driving them to the poor house because in order for China to buy their resources, SA had to open their doors to Chinese goods. Whole industries have been lost in SA since 1994.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      South Africa NEVER had a Unity Government

      That is another myth. South Africa had a draft constitution ALREADY written at Codesa before the 1994 elections, and then what was effectively a Constitutional Assembly until the final Constitution of 1999, and the day after the final Constitution was signed De Klerk and the New Nats walked out of Government, Buthelezi and the IFP were daft enough to stay, and the DA and Tony Leon were never dumb enough to join in the first place.

      PLUS the Afrikaner were negotiating to hand over power voluntarily in good faith,
      while the ANC was doing a secret deal with Anglo American and the Progs/DA behind the scenes. NOT like the African/Middle East “Unity Governments” which get proposed by dictators ALREADY losing power.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      Slavery was UNIVERSAL everywhere in the world – BUT ONLY THE ARABS turned African slaves into a merchant commodity, and sold to everyone who would buy – for 1000 years.

      Slavery elsewhere was of a defeated enemy, instead of killing him.

    • ntozakhona

      Maybe those ignorant of the ANC due to years of apartheid propaganda and misinformation should visit libraries and read before parading naked as experts. They obviously cannot also rely on the media and its commentators as they have once again failed to tell the obvious fact that Zuma has massive support in the ANC and areas in which is rooted.

      The ANC has a long history and has had and will have its up and downs. Its death has been predicted far more than the end of the world in its 101 year history by its detractors. It is still alive and baffling them year in year out.

      In its Organisational Renewal document now adopted at Mangaung the ANC provides an honest, frank and brutal assessment of itself ( check ANC website). Thererin lies its greatest strength, its ability to renew itself as Albert Luthuli put it.

    • ntozakhona

      Meersman any ANC member who has been properly initiated in its mrabula (political education) by way of theory and praxis will admitt that the ANC is not living to its high standards of srupulous democratic participation by branch members. The ANC President has admitted as much in his opening address at the recent National Conference. It still however remains the only formation ( political or otherwise) which has such elaborate democratic systems in South Africa.

      The DA for instance has an electoral college that decides leadership on behalf of all memebers. its policies are designed by select experts and adopted by Zille on behalf of the blue crowd. COPE has not had an elective and policy making conference since its inception, Lekota governs it through ourt rulings, The IFP has a president for life, so does the ACDP etc etc

      The ANC remains the best bet for the democratic principles enshrined in the constitution and their evolution to accomodate our changing society. The constitution mirrors the Harare declaration and constitutional proposals of the ANC issued in 1989.

    • ntozakhona


    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, you are too intelligent to write a comment like that about slavery. When the new world was discovered, there was a need for human capital and a Catholic priest suggested that that African slaves should be used to develop these territories. There has never been in the history of mankind the forced removal of million of people like the African slave trade. Million of Africans died on the voyage to the new world and once in the new world they were worked to death by the slave owners. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was very important in getting countries like Brazil and the US started. There is a good book you should read called ” Bury the Chains”. Also there is a book written by an African slave that later learned how to read and his name was Vassar.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      This ANC is NOT the Original ANC of John Dube, Sol Plaatjies and Chief Luthuli, who were educated, and Christian Democrats, and opposed to Tribalism AND to Communism AND to Pan Africanist Myths

    • Stuff

      Our only hope for South Africa (and the world) is a new generation of leaders, leaders with principle and the needs of the planet and its people at heart. Those people of conscience and consciousness exist, but they have no political power, and I doubt they are interested in political power.

      Something has to give or we are going to go over the edge of the cliff fairly soon, sometimes I believe we have already gone over the edge, and like the Roman Empire, only historians will detect it centuries after the decline is already too far gone, that our modern civilization is finished.

      On the other hand, maybe the Mayans were correct, 21 December 2012 was the end of an era, and a new and better world order is coming into existence.

    • Paul Whelan

      @ntozakhona – That the media disregard Mr Zuma’s popularity and fail to be fair to him as President is, I believe, very obvious. But the media are entitled to voice their opinion in a democracy. Nothing says they need to be supportive, or fair.

      It seems to me also that the challenge Organizational Renewal presents is not to make the document forthright, but to make it happen. If the new ANC team are serious about renewal, the party’s biggest problems are only now beginning. I am encouraged by Mangaung; the issue is what comes of it.

    • ntozakhona

      Lyndall Beddy the arrogant display of ignorance about the party you have been brought to hate all your life and that of your forebears is a mark of a mind in need of serious counselling.

      Langalibalele Dube and Sol T Plaatje founded a party whose reason of existance is to stop and reverse the theft of land from Africans The impending land Act of 1913 was a catalyst for the formation of the ANC with a rallying cry to unite all African tribes by Pixley ka Isaka Seme. It was also about decolonising the African mind ( does the phraseology sound familiar?) with Sol Plaatje writing that ”God forbid that our minds be the property of someone else”

      The ANC is not a static organisation, whereas under Pres Luthuli its membership was exclusively African, under Oliver Tambo it had become open to all races, Its previously Africans only memebership did not prevent it from being an ally of the Congress of Democrats which was home to the likes of Helen Joseph and the Communist Party of South Africa which wsa home to the likes of Braamfischer.

      Pres Luthuli had put very well when he said the struggle has no place for homogenous entities, thus to this day the ANC remains a broad church of opinions united by a desire for a free, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa where the people share in the wealth of the country.

    • ntozakhona

      Dr Pallo Jordan, Dr Mathole Motshekga, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Prof Ben Turok ….

      Lyndall Beddy what were you saying about educated?

    • ntozakhona

      The dominant contradiction in South Africa today is inequality, poverty and joblessness.

      Paul Whelan unity would thus mean we should all as members of the ANC pool resources to fight and defeat this common enemy. Our unity is informed by our democratic practise of robust discussions and a creative tension of varying opinions before the adoption of a common program mostly by consensus. We unite around the program

      Similarly with leadership, the right to contest leadership positions have been brilliantly reasserted and once the leadership has been democratically elected we unite in our support for it despite our previous preferences.

      That is what UNITY means for the ANC.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      America has developed Myths about Slavery to exonerate White Americans; and Myths about Africa for Black Americans.

      Lincoln was a conman whose “slavery” speeches were total hypocricy. The American Civil War was in the 1860s when the rest of the West had banned the Arab Slave Trade in about 1806/7; and freed their slaves in the 1830s – the intervening period to train and prepare slaves for freedom and to save the money to pay out the slave owners who had borrowed money from banks to buy slaves. Lincoln had no interest in slaves at all – his slavery speeches were to prevent Britain and France coming to the defence of the South in the Civil War. After the war he just abandoned the slaves – who had to fight for another 100 years for the right to vote and against segregation

      And Black America created a mythical Kwanzaa Cult with a “First Fruits Festival”. There are NO INDIGENOUS COMMERCIAL FRUIT CROPS in either Australia or Sub Saharan Africa! ALL their commercial fruits are imported from the Northen Hemisphere.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      The Mythical Kwanzaa Cult is taught as History in all the Universities of the West as African History, or African Studies, or African Renaissance Studies, or Egyptology.

      Those degrees are worthless.

    • ntozakhona

      Paul Whelan I did not quible the right of the media to be always wrong with regards to Zuma. I however as a loyal South African not wishing to share space with brainwashed zombies am obliged to expose its Joseph Goebels type repetitive lies.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      WHAT Fruits did Black South Africans grow for the Kwanzaa First Fruits Festival?

      Did they compete with the elephants for the Marula, or with the monkeys and baboons for the Num-Num (carissa edulis) or Natal Plum (carissa marcrocarpa). None of these are commercial crops and I know of no other indigeneous fruits.

      Both Australia and Sub Saharan Africa have NO commercial fruits – lots of flowers and herbs, but NO fruit! Unlike America which had an incredible variety of indigeneous fruits.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      HoXXenXoX was not a derogatory word for the Khoi!

      Whites could not pronounce the clicks so they replaced the click with the sibbulant “T” sound. Spit out the T when you say the word and listen to the SOUND of the word.

      HoXXenXoX was what the Khoi called themselves.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      “W-g” was a word used for Latin Mediterranean EUROPEANS!

      That is how the term was used in Australia; and it was first used in South Africa for Italian prisoners of war. In Britain the word was originally “Pollyw-g” and applied to British sailors who had not yet crossed the equator – from which word Enid Blyton developed her “gollyw-gs”.

      ONLY when Americans started using the word did it become racist – LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE!!!!

    • ntozakhona

      HoXXenXoX? You are really, really, really maddened by prejudice and shortsightedness.

      The word you are trying to reformulate to justify your colonial plunder and decimation of an African tribe is derived from the insulting Hotnot.

      The Basarwa could not have insulted themselves that way, in any case the creation of false knowledge has always been the speciality of barbarians and their descedants.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Africa does have a Commercial Fruit after all- the Watermelon.

      The Arabs took the Watermelon to Europe but no botanist could find one growing in the wild until David Livingston found wild watermelons in the Kalahari desert. It looks like they were taken to America by Black Slaves.

      Watermelon is the last fruit alphabetically in Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book which I have been reading all this festive season, and which I have just finished reading.

      Nice colours too – red, black and green (with a tinge of white in the rind)

    • -Sterling Ferguson

      @Ntozakhona, in Professor Mbembe’s book “PostColony” he talks about how the ruling parties have made Zombies out of the population in Africa. This is why when Zuma talks about only the white people hugged their dogs, the people will pretend to believe him. It’s very dangerous to disagree with the ruling parties because one can find their source of employment blocked by the ruling parties. This is why many educated Africans are buying a one way ticket to N America and Europe never to come back to Africa. The ANC two weeks ago purged all of the people in the party that were against Zuma. Only in a fake democracy like SA and Russia that this would happen.

    • ntozakhona

      Sterling you truly inhabit and prosper in the world created by your fertile imagination.

      There is no one purged from the ANC, the Deputy President of the country – for instance- remains just that. In fact after losing democratic elections he has been given the task of leadind a political school that will produce the next generation of ANC leaders. What a purge!

      We have always said the ANC is a broad church of various shades of opinion and that is why we insist that the contest for leadership is a principle. Those whose ideas do not carry the day know that they have to back those elected loyally for the next entire term

      If differing with the ANC would block employment opportunities you and your colonial cronies would be unemployed today but gini coefficient assert that you are prospering more than you did under apartheid. You still have not explained how the democratic system you wish to import will not ”purge” the noisy vioces of the tiny minority from parliament!

    • ntozakhona

      Come to any township, you will not find street kids or adults carrying puppies, We carry our children and do not throw them into some steely grocieries vehicle. We do not sleep with puppies in our bedroom and exile our needy infants to some isolated room. Zuma knows us very well and there is no pretence about our cultural values.

      We do not hate dogs as you would like to believe, but we value human life and dignity.

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