Mandela Rhodes Scholars
Mandela Rhodes Scholars

iANC ayisafani

By Kelebone Lekunya

I first knew of the liberation movement called the ANC when I was a teenager. I’ve noticed lately that it takes a very different form. Back then it was a party associated with equality for all, non-racialism and non-sexism. I was told tales of its principled and brave leaders like John L Dube, Sefako Makgatho, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, inkosi Albert Luthuli, Oliver R Tambo and of course, Rolihlahla Mandela. These guys served their generations with such humility and sincerity that when their names are mentioned today people smile.

Will people smile 20 years from now when they hear about the current crop of leaders? Will they cheer when they hear the name of a leader who builds a R200-million dynasty palace with their money and tells them he didn’t ask for it? I mean, will they smile when you tell them about the leader whose 700-odd charges of corruption and fraud were withdrawn under unclear circumstances?

I am asking if South Africans will smile when they hear about a certain multimillion-rand buffalo bidder turned mine shareholder turned politician who might be implicated in the shooting of the striking miners by the police. What about that one who allegedly manipulated the BEE shareholding in the multinational mining company for her benefit?

This shows that the ANC of selfless leaders is far gone and people are faced with the ANC of now: of tenderpreneurs and BEE cadres.

Equality within the most revered political party in South Africa is the thing of the past. Remember how a once loose-cannon ANCYL fire-eater president (Sello Malema) was expelled unceremoniously from the party after “bringing” it into disrepute. His sin was to compare Jacob Zuma’s leadership to that of Thabo Mbeki. The once “kill for Zuma” fanatic is now an eye-sore to the Zuma kingdom he helped install. He was kicked out by the national disciplinary committee of appeals chaired by none other than the buffalo bidder. Does this kicking out apply to everybody in the movement who is a loose cannon?

No, it doesn’t.

Equality has been substituted by the self-seeking gimmicks of the powers that be. Even the most principled Gwede Mantashe is towing the line just for the sake of collective responsibility mantra.

There was a time when the South African atmosphere was filled with whispers of the Secrecy Bill. Some ANC members of Parliament, like the veteran Ben Turok, didn’t vote for its passage in the National Assembly. The party didn’t act against him for bringing it into disrepute. Does it mean that some are more equal than others?

Several other ANC leaders have had the courage to speak their minds in contrast with the ANC public position on several issues. They didn’t get sanctioned by the party either. Remember ANC national executive committee member Pallo Jordan, when he spoke fiercely about Nkandla? Remember Trevor Manuel and lately Ronnie Kasrils?

When will the ANC’s equality clause be effected upon them and charged just like Malema for bringing it into disrepute? Ronnie even went as far as urging people not to vote for the ANC in the coming elections. Isn’t that enough to charge him? Isn’t that political treason on his part to stand against his movement of about 50 years?

The fact is the ANC won’t do anything to them because it has abandoned its founding principles on the basis of personal interests. Maybe the “operation Tshela Thupa” hot-head was more troublesome than the rest.

One thing is certain, as South Africa goes to this election: iANC ayisafani! (the ANC is no longer the same). It has turned into an Orwellian dynasty of the few where its principles (especially equality for all) has been cast off. It applies a more rigid hand to others while it ignores some.

Kelebone Lekunya is a 2013 scholar and is pursuing a master’s in town and regional planning at the University of Pretoria.

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