Malaika Wa Azania
Malaika Wa Azania

The ‘new’ South Africa #BroughtToYouByTheANC

I was reading through status updates on Facebook when I saw one in particular that caught my attention. It was a photo of a DA billboard with lettering that reads: “E-tolls, proudly brought to you by the ANC”. I then decided that I’d provoke a discussion on my wall about what people thought of the democratic dispensation in which the ANC has been the ruling party for nearly two decades. I requested that everyone write a statement that contained anything they believe to be an ANC creation, followed by a hash-tag with the words #BroughtToYouByTheANC. As I write this article, it has been five hours since I made the post and the number of comments stands at 285.

My status update sought to interrogate two things. Firstly, I wanted to understand what the feeling of my more than 1 000 Facebook friends is with regards to the ANC. Secondly, I wanted to ascertain if we are a society that is capable of debunking real questions to construct reasonable debates. In essence, I wanted to understand if people who converge on social networks are reactive to political discourse, or if they are able to employ critical analysis that correctly locates the crisis of our civilisation within the heart of an ideological paradigm. The response to the status gave me a worrying insight.

More than 250 of the comments were negative. Statements such as “The Guptas #BroughtToYouByTheANC”, “Nkandla #BroughtToYouByTheANC”, “Unemployment #BroughtToYouByTheANC” and “Poverty #BroughtToYouByTheANC” dominated the thread. On the surface, these statements sound reasonable, but the truth of the matter is that they fail to give a thorough analysis to the real challenge that faces our country, and focus instead on the product of that challenge. None of the comments dared to challenge the very premise of the argument. None of the comments rectified the basis of my status. Instead, they reacted to what I deliberately posed as a flawed argument. It is a flawed argument that systematic challenges are brought by the ANC. But equally false is that our transition is solely brought by the ANC.

The argument that the Guptas are brought to us by the ANC is false, unless one wants to employ the narrow logic of viewing the Guptas as an individual family rather than part of a broader question. The Guptas reflect something more than just an Indian family living in opulence in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

They reflect

    (a) the accumulation of wealth by a few in a country where the working class majority is disenfranchised
    (b) political clientelism, a product of political liberation without economic freedom
    (c) impunity, a privilege of the elite and
    (d) an inherently corrupt system.

The question of Nkandla is equally a reflection of a corrupt system and of capital accumulation that is indirectly proportional to the standards of living of the working class majority. Poverty and unemployment are not creations of the ANC, they too are creations of a system that dictates the posture and orientation of the party. The ANC is not the cause of the problems that people mention; it is the product of the cause.

My problem with the argument that the crisis in the “new” South Africa is #BroughtToYouByTheANC is not only that it is a simplistic argument which fails to understand the root of the problem, but one which also arrogates the ANC more power than is due. For those who argue that the ANC is the cause of all problems, there is a failure to locate the role of systematic construct that is in fact the root cause of inequalities: capitalism, a system that survives on the exploitation of the many by a few, where the few control all means of production while the many drown in a pool of disenfranchisement, landlessness, poverty and indignity.

On the other hand, the argument that democracy is #BroughtToYouByTheANC equally fails to locate the critical role played by the masses of our people in their own liberation. It irks me how whenever we speak of the road to democracy, we make no mention of the decisive role played by ordinary people, but elevate a few individuals to the role of liberator.

Indeed, the ANC and all other national liberation movements did play a vital role, particularly during the armed struggle. But the people, ordinary masses, played an even greater role, one that in fact enabled the ANC and other national liberation movements to carry out successful operations. Yet we treat these people as if they were statues decorating our country, doing absolutely nothing, involved in no forms of resistance against apartheid and colonialism.

The ANC has been party to societal problems by architecting regressive policies such as BEE and the election/appointment of leaders with questionable characters. But to say that the ANC is the cause of structural problems is a simplistic argument to pose, which automatically arrives at a simplistic conclusion that the solution to these problems is to remove the ANC from power. This is sadly a false argument, because it is devoid of any in-depth appreciation of what differentiates a regime and a system.

Removing a regime is not the same thing as removing a system. For as long as the system is the same, the regime is bound to operate within the confines of that system and therefore only minimal change will transpire. Therefore the visionary solution, one divorced from reactive thinking, is to struggle not for a mere change of face of government, but for an overhaul of capitalism. It is to rally behind a revolutionary movement with socialist policies and the political will to implement them; one that is unambiguous about economic transformation. In the absence of a revolutionary vanguard party of the working class, we must begin to debate what the alternative is. In the process, we must keep left.

PS: It is brutally cold here in Cuauhtémoc (Mexico, Latin America) today. I suspect that this terrible weather is #BroughtToYouByTheANC

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    • Your neighbour

      I liked it until the second last paragraph. Then I still liked it when I saw the word absence. I am glad you are moving away from malema worship. He is a capitalist. He just wants to get his capital from the taxpayer like all the other kleptocrats.

    • Charmaine

      While you are sitting in Mexico, we are here in SA and are witness to all that is happening to SA under the ANC rule. Have a look at the stats, SA places fourth in Africa, 86 in world on Human Capital Index. WE have not grown at all in fact we have dropped drastically. It has become all about greed and power and quite frankly the ANC are not for the people, Sa today is apartheid reversed and the old saying stands, the rich will get richer and the poor with stay poor. Nothing is done about helping the communities. Lets see if all the people with fat pay cheques can live on a minimal wage for a month??? Then we shall see minimum wages change. How can we look up to the #ANC its a joke #BroughtToYouByTheANC – Crime is up because there are no jobs, interest rates are up and who does this affect? The poor man on the street as everything goes up but not salaries. We are the only Democratic country that can strike and there are no consequences. Our police are not even feared by gangsters. There is so much wrong with our country and yet there is no reason that we should be where we are as we live on the richest continent in the world with gold, diamonds, minerals, oil, wine farms, sugar cane farms and the list goes on. But we allow China to come and import cheap quality clothing etc, so our factories can close down (create more unemployment) and we are right back at square one. #politics #BroughtToYouByTheANC #capitalism #democracry I wish I was president for a term

    • Matt Black

      You lost me at “10 000 friends.” Facebook says you only have 1 396 friends. Attention to detail is key in asking and arguing these things.

      I went of, sat down and had some tea. Came back and re-read your piece. There are a whole load of issues worth discussing here, but first and foremost, the ANC-led government hasn’t done very much except make people slump into an era of hatred and grumpiness. They see the party having branded itself as the saviour as all those who live and instead pillage state coffers, allow rampant misuse of equipment and facilities and throw tantrums when called out on it.
      To the average South African, the ANC has no delivered any of the great changes. A lot of bad things have matured (possibly due or not due to) in the ANCs rule. Thats is why bad things are #broughttoyouANC

    • Themba

      I like your analysis Malaika,i wish to have a drink with you and exchange some info.So many young ppl needs to be educated on blamining with reasoning.

    • Charlotte

      Okay, over to you, Malaika.. The ‘struggle and ‘democracy’ are in the past.
      Since Mandela left office, please name one ‘positive’ proudly brought to us by the ANC.

      As a country, what can we be proud of? Failed education, health, transport and policing, rampant crime and more than anything, a failed, inept government who doesn’t give a damn about the decline of the country or about the poor – as long as they can feather their own nests, get away with as much as they can – and cover their tracks.

      The ANC proudly presents ‘Arrogance, Nepotism, Corruption’ as the acronym into which it has degenerated.
      The Weekend Argus editorial (5 Oct.)states that 6 more years with Zuma at the helm, “… is just enough time to bring the country to its knees.”

    • Thought Leader Editor

      Matt Black – apologies. The “10 000″ was a subbing error. It said 1 000 in the original, and I’ve now changed it back.

    • Grant

      Removing a regime can remove a system but agreed, it can’t remove a reality. The ANC like all governments have certain realities and boundaries within which to govern. They have limited funds, pressures from other countries and competition from within. Reality often shapes governments; governments rarely shape reality.

      All one can therefore ask from a government is to play the hand they have been dealt with care, craft and honour. We ask that the ANC put this country’s very best people into top jobs to represent us across the globe and on the ground. They have not done that, choosing rather to promote a morally bankrupt political elite over talent. We ask that they take our tax money and apply it carefully and in the best possible way to grow our economy and make our people comfortable and secure. The ANC waste money like water, openly and shamelessly. We ask them to keep us safe and to educate us to world standards. They are not capable of either.

      The ANC, like so many liberation movements was good at liberation but very poor at governance. We need a new approach and a new party to lead us that can better shape our reality. The problem is not capitalism, it is poor governance by the ANC. We all agree we need change but we will not change the party that leads us, hoping the change will come from within the ANC but there is no incentive for the ANC to change from within. Pressure from the DA and losing Gauteng will force the ANC to change. That is democracy.

    • T.P.G

      Let’s not forget that there is no perfect Government in the world. And there is definitely no perfect person in the world. The ANC has its flaws, but lets not tend to blame the ANC as a whole. There are indeed honest people who serve the party. People who want to see change etc. Lets not forget where we come from, we come from a great battle of inequalities, racism etc etc. Poverty has been in play even before the ANC came into power.

      Lets try to educate our minds first and try to see what positive things that the ANC has done. The government allocates a lot of money to try and uplift our people, but through forms of corruption the money gets lost in the way which results in poor quality results as opposed to what was intended.

      And, lets try to also understand that the black people in power who seem to be corrupt are only seeking to be as rich as those who got rich during the aphartheit regime. As much as this is not an excuse, it should in any way be excused.

    • Pfumo

      Much of these observations are correct. However, you note that ‘ The Guptas reflect …political clientelism, a product of political liberation without economic freedom, impunity, a privilege of the elite and an inherently corrupt system.’ I think it is too vague to talk of a ‘system’ as being to blame. Whether SA were capitalist or communist, rich or poor, equal as Scandinavia or as unequal as Angola, the Guptas are basically the product – the crony buddies – of a rotten, amoral, corrupt, valueless leader. An individual with no morals, no judgement and no shame. A leader should have all of the above. Blaming such rottenness on a ‘system’ of any kind is simply not correct.

    • Machio

      I give it to you for provoking thought. I however do not agree that capitalism – the system under which we operate – is the root cause of our problems. Economists agree, compared to socialism, capitalism is the kinder devil. Its power is all on display: Russia is no longer advocating socialist policies, China is not a true socialist society, and Cuba has started market reforms. I offer that the the problems we have are an ANC creation. This is a party that had an opportunity to set us on a path to prosperity but didn’t. With intellectuals among its ranks of leaders, the party should have ensured it made fewer policy mistakes. Now, we are living with unintended consequences of their policies. For example, we are a welfare state, where a huge chunk of the population is dependent on government subsidies because the party chose to redistribute wealth, instead of creating the same through providing an enabling environment. One means of production, power/energy, is forever in short supply because the ANC refused to support Eskom’s recapitalization plans; education, the most important ingredient of a working capitalist system, was not addressed earlier. For a long time, the party has dictated, not led and unfortunately, you can’t dictate economy growth. The party has given us bad leaders, where incompetence has been routinely rewarded. So, no, it is not the system that has brought us here, the ANC has.

    • Momma Cyndi

      The ANC are the ones who make the policy. We are fooling ourselves if we think that any policy comes out of parliament. It comes out of Lutuli House.

      When someone earns a 7 figure salary and has practically zero living costs, selling out is not about poverty or inequality. It is about greed and unaccountably.

      Capitalism isn’t a great system but it is a better system than most. The forms of social systems (like Canada or France) tend to work better but you need a very low unemployment to make them work. Unfortunately, the ANC has ensured that the ability to employ someone in SA is so onerous that it just isn’t worth the bother.

      If the ANC has done such a sterling job then we should be ahead of the game – we aren’t. If anything, we are slipping backwards.

    • bernpm

      It will take me too long to analyze and explain the flaws in your logic. But….it remains funny reading. Thanks !

    • Sbu Nxumalo

      It is a great to know that some people still give a damn about the geopolitical of the african continent/ South Africa. On this occasion, let me begin, for the simple reason that by stating that: the truth of the matter is that there is a big crisis with African leadership (most African Presidents). Greed seems to be at the core of the agenda. In terms of African politics, its all about upholding the mandate of the party and not of the masses. The manner in which political leadership is structured is that powerful comrades within a political party vote you for president, and then they dictate what is to be done, there is a lot of dictatorship from faces that remain unknown. As such, the wealth of the country is held in a small circumference, ‘centre-periphery theory’. The masses at the on the periphery are excluded from all sorts of decision making. They are informed and left with broken promises, our leaders have mastered to manipulate poor people’s vulnerabilities and we are now selling souls for votes. Votes that will keep some people in power for longer, and to maintain that power within political organizations. Unfortunately that is consistently occurring within the ANC. One other point that I have observed as a public servant is the lack of commitment from municipal workers. All of these people are bustardizing at the cost of the poor masses out there. We have a crisis youth, and we need to jointly unite, study, hustle and maintain a positive attitude towards life…

    • sandile mhlawuli

      the current economic system and the current government need to be changed. president thabo mbeki was a capitalist and he believed that capitalism will solve all the socio economic issues our country faces and the will be economic growth and economic development in the country. well he was partly right during his time as president the country experienced economic growth and economic development. after apartheid but the he never managed to solve the socio economic issues our country faced. the reason for that was the type of system used to solve interrelated but different problems.
      the problem is people we tend to confuse communism with socialism and believe capitalism is the best system course it benefits the individuals. the reality is capitalism benefits the rich, communism benefits the government, socialism benefits the society which is why capitalist are against socialism course they know their profits will decrease. what we fail to understand is that the anc is a socialist party ran by communist that look out for themselves thats why we have nkandla, corruption, and a government that can’t provide social services efficiently to its citizens and the people who suffer are the poor. one also needs to understand that only reason why anc is still in power is because the is no suitable substitute for anc

    • SabeloMkwae

      The most noticeable attitude amongst all of us fellow citizen is the tendency to disregard the positive doings by our democratic government but we’re so capable of affording great exposure to negative things in our society, which is good. Our mindset and way of thinking is more reliance to media propaganda and we fail dismally to employ our own critical approach to undress what has been presented and come up with our own set of facts to dispute or consider what is in our disposal. We sometimes simply forget that whoever is writing that story has used his/her own feelings and agenda to achieve their goals. We are too emotional as a result most of the so called opposition parties have seen that and they’re going all out to utilize this societal weakness not really to bring anticipated change but to gain power. I conquer with Malaika, in the meant let us keep left until such time where there is a party serious enough to give ANC the run for their money.

    • Tofolux

      @Malaika, you are obviously on the campaign trail. A counter- question though, are you accusing the ANC of being the demon in our society? Lets unpack this plantation mentality and use a simple eg. If the average middle class family working in the private sector, buy a house(bond) , a car(on credit) and maybe send their children to a private school. They have one or two credit cards, buy clothes and food on credit and at month end, they realise that they have very little money their pockets. Where is the ANC in this? This is day to day reality notable uncontested and ignored by so-called activists becos critically, why are banks getting richer when they are NOT businesses and why do they make huge profits. Wrt to ANC or govt, SA has the most anti-corruption institutions than any other country on this planet eg SARS, public protector, Asset & Forfeiture, special units, sadec protocols etc etc. All of the above allegations can be tested through any of these and lo and behold since the advent of all of this particular finger-pointing not one guilty verdict by thse institutions unless some class-room monitor has some special testing that has renders guilty verdicts. An interesting read though is the list of accusastions, its time-lines by whom and when. We have been warned by our wise-fathers eg Amilcar Cabral of a particularised agenda and exceptionalism and by what diabolical means this entrapment of society’s attention will evolve. Hence who is fooling who here?

    • lesego lseo raps

      Well irrespective of their shallow views and how premature their reasoning capability is,the underlying factor is that people are disgruntled with the ANC;there’s firm evidence that many of those expressed challenges were #BroughtToUsbyTheANC and that doesn’t necessitate an intellectually sound engagement on the root of the problem.It became more than obvious that corruption is one of the root(s) ,their outcry doesn’t deserve to be ignored it is not senseless in any way.

    • PrettyBelinda

      In the meantime ‘keep left’, another steroid or prop up for the “progressives” within the ruling party?¿…..who are they….are these personalities or leaders known to the general public….so come elections, people can with confidence go to the polls, the new cortizone of the ruling party will be strong enough to carry the nation forward in its much needed development?……..I wish to challenge the left to step into the shoes of development and start walking the talk.

    • Kgositsile Mokgosi

      If the apartheid government believed in socialism and socialism is perfect in avoiding descend into poverty they would still have excluded Africans from benefiting in such a system. Africans would still have come out poor in the main. If it was about giving everybody R1000 Africans would have been given R10. So Malaika it is illogical to think “system”. It is attitude at the core of all our ills. The ANC existed for 48 years without causing any panic within the colonial government and the apartheid government took over in 1948 while the ANC was probably ‘fighting for liberation’. They were banned only when the apartheid government banned the PAC because the PAC had engaged in an action that gave them a fright and drew the attention of the world to oppression taking place in SA. It is worth noting that the apartheid government changed it’s attitude to legalised discrimination after 1976 and Steve Biko’s death in 1977. That is when PW spoke of “Adapt or die”. At the time a number of apartheid laws had been repealed or no longer enforced. The ANC’s resurgence in the mid 80’s as the UDF came when apartheid was no longer an issue. Concern was about how to preserve economic power. The powers that be became aware of the greed in the ANC leadership and anointed them to take over hence big lie about them having liberated the country. If they did they would have used the power to uplift Africans. Unfortunately they are there to eat and secure economic power for their bosses…

    • Mark

      I think we should unpack this argument a bit more. If capitalism is so bad and socialism/communism is better then why would our government outsource secondary industry to our communist “buddies” in China? Surely if there is so little work being created in a stagnant economy one would want to undertake this work ourselves. But all I see is the closure of textile industries and similar businesses who cannot compete with the cheap human conveyor belt system of the east.

      if our government truely cared about the people it would look to internalise a product if the skills are available or skill people to do the work before looking to outsource.


    • Spyti.k

      The entire system and its resulting problems can actually be traced back in history to one thing; the Bantu Education Act of 1953.

      More of my thoughts here:

    • David

      “The system” is the abstract fetish that underwrites your whole article. What the hell is “the system”? An abstraction with human agency, will, desires, compulsions. Twisted logic. Who’s building Nkandla? “The system”. Who’s forging ahead with e-tolling despite popular opposition? “The system”. Who created outcome based education? “The system”. Who shot and killed miners in Marikana? “The system”. Yes, “the system”, not specific human beings. It’s about “the system” fetish.

    • Rethabile

      There is no need to protect the ANC even when all of us can see that they are not performing to their maximum capacity bcos of corruption.