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The ANC: the story of a liberation movement that’s lost its lustre
12 January 2019, 10:46 AM

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) celebrates its 107th birthday this year against a backdrop of an election campaign it’s likely to win handily – but which is likely to mask its longer-term decline.

January 8 is the day the ANC was founded. It observes it by issuing a statement compiled by its national executive committee which sets out its plans for the year. The statement, once the subject of endless analysis, is now often better at saying what the ANC would like to do than what it really will. But, since the ANC is much better at diagnosing the ills which beset it than fixing them, it could touch on some of the factors which ensure that even a comfortable ANC election win in May is unlikely to halt its decline.

At this stage of the campaign, the ANC seems headed for just under 60% of the vote. This would be its worst performance in a national election. But it would still be a triumph since it would be the first time since 2004 that its vote increased: since Jacob Zuma became ANC president, it has lost ground in every election, dropping to 54% in the 2016 local poll.

The general election result could create the impression that the ANC is regaining ground which it lost only because it elected a divisive and unpopular president. This will be an illusion. Many of the ANC voters who stayed away in 2016 because they were angered by Zuma and his faction will probably return. But its problems run far deeper than the identity of its previous leader. Unless it finds ways to address them, the decline will continue until its national vote sinks below 50%.

There are three reasons why the ANC is in decline – one general problem and two others which stem from it.

Insiders and outsiders

The general problem is that the ANC has become a symptom of what it was supposed to end – an economy divided between insiders and outsiders. It’s useful to think of South Africa as a country whose economy was, when democracy was achieved in 1994, run by an exclusive club open only to white people. Admittedly, the club has admitted new, black, members. But they enjoy fewer privileges than the older, white, members. And it is still exclusive because millions are still denied its benefits, which may be as basic as a weekly wage.

Many of the ANC’s problems stem from this. Because the market economy doesn’t offer most black people a route into the middle class, those who can, use politics as a substitute. To name but one example, in many parts of the country, winning election as a local councillor is the difference between being middle class and poor.

This creates huge problems for the ANC. It creates a factional divide between those who have been able to join the club and whose well-being depends on the market economy, and those who want politics to propel them into the middle class and keep them there. It also creates a host of problems which are often discussed in ANC documents. Because the stakes are so high, battles for position are rarely fought fairly: this has created internal decay so serious that ANC factions spent much of 2017 in court challenging the processes which choose leaders. The toxic blend of politics and money which is fuelled by economic exclusion has prompted political killings, particularly in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

This malaise prompted many ANC voters to withhold their votes. Many will return because the faction which wants a stronger market economy and so is tougher on corruption has won the presidency. But the ailment is unlikely to go away – so serious it is that former president Kgalema Motlanthe has suggested that the ANC may need to lose a national election to rid itself of those who see it as a route to resources.

Black middle class has walked away

The second problem is that the ANC’s malaise has lost it the black middle class, many of whom see it as irretrievably corrupt and some of whom feel that it has not come to the aid of black professionals who still experience many of the prejudices their parents faced.

The ANC acknowledged that it lost the black middle class in the 2014 election. This continued in 2016 and the signs suggest that the middle class has not returned – the world of many middle-class black people is very different to that of ANC leaders who are products of the days when only whites were allowed to benefit from the market. Working class and poorer voters are likely to return to the ANC now, not the middle class.

In post-1994 South Africa, losing the middle class does not lose elections – it is not nearly big enough. But it does deny a governing party which claims to represent black aspirations credibility among key people in the economy and, most of all, skills. Not long ago, black intellectuals gravitated almost automatically towards the ANC – now they are likely to run to avoid it. This deprives it of talents which it clearly needs.

The loss of young talent

The third problem is the decimation of the ANC’s youth leadership. South Africans who last year enjoyed opposition leader Julius Malema harassing Zuma overlooked the fact that, when Malema ran the Youth League, his first election as president was challenged by most of the provinces but endorsed by a national leadership who saw him as an ally. And his second election – unopposed – was helped by driving his opponents out of a meeting hall.

By the time Malema was expelled, the Youth League was in the emergency room, plagued by factionalism and the exclusion of anyone talented who threatened the leadership.

Had the ANC leadership acted swiftly to restore democracy to the Youth League, it could have become once again a nursery for political talent. Instead – presumably because they feared that a new Youth League leadership would threaten their control – they delayed elections and did nothing to revive vigorous democracy. The result is a youth leadership which is either anonymous or an embarrassment – the inevitable result of allowing talented young people to be driven away.

A party riven by the politics which economic exclusion creates, alienated from intellectuals and the middle class and which has lost most of its talented youth leadership, is clearly on a downward path. Whatever the ANC says on January 8, if it does not find ways to address these problems, the election is likely to offer at most temporary relief for a liberation movement which has lost much of its lustre.The Conversation

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

VW apologises after botched PR campaign with Moozlie
12 January 2019, 10:26 AM

Car manufacturer Volkswagen has given the assurance that its future campaigns will be less shocking. This follows a backlash that its awareness campaign on irresponsible driving has caused.

VW partnered with rapper and media personality Nomuzi “Moozlie” Mabena for the campaign, which focused on alerting young people about the dangers of texting while driving. The rapper faked a car crash while doing a live broadcast on Instagram.

People took to Twitter to express their disapproval of the campaign.

Head of Group Communications at VW South Africa Andile Dlamini has apologised for the distress that the latest campaign has caused.

“We firstly have to apologise for the distress that was caused for people that were close to her, that felt that the campaign was real and that Nomuzi was badly hurt – but what was important to us was that the message came across.  When Nomuzi released a video to say this is the campaign that she’s running, she’s not hurt… people need to understand that they cannot be texting and driving at the same time.  So the next campaign won’t be as shocking as this one.”


Shepherd Bushiri
Bushuri’s church denies non-compliant safety findings
12 January 2019, 8:21 AM

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri‘s Enlightened Christian Gathering church in Pretoria has rejected the City of Tshwane’s finding that it’s non-compliant in terms of health and safety standards.

This comes after an inspection by the city’s emergency services department.

The inspection follows the tragic death of three church congregants during a stampede on the 28th of last month.

The city will now issue a compliance order which the church must adhere to within 30 days or cease all activities.

The church’s attorney Terrence Baloyi is adamant that his client is compliant.

“I have a copy of the compliance certificate issued by the city of Tshwane for the 31st of December 2018, authorising us to hold an event of the cross-over in the same venue. Other than that as far as JOC is concerned, every month we are issued by  certificate to say at the church are you complying with the bylaws of the city, and to confirm they issue us with a certificate, we have monthly certificates issued to us by the cot through this joint operation committee.”

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CemAir grounded after suspension
11 January 2019, 8:56 PM

The Civil Aviation Authority says concerns over the systematic failure of CemAir‘s maintenance controls has prompted its suspension.

The CAA announced the suspension on Friday. The High Court in Johannesburg had granted the airline a temporary order lifting the suspension a few days after the CAA suspended its operator certificates last month.

The High Court had also ordered the airline to comply with regulations. The CAA says the most recent annual renewal audit revealed CemAir’s inability to prove the continued airworthiness of its fleet.

CAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu says they had been engaging the airline on its Corrective Action Plan in recent weeks.

“We’ve engaged them extensively they’ve submitted several versions of the CAP, but unfortunately today as we concluded the process we were not able to get a satisfactory CAP in relation to the maintenance of their fleet. And this decision therefore affects the entire fleet. And that to us is a very serious thing because if we cannot, guarantee that the maintenance of the aircraft is of a standard that can ensure safety, we’re unable then to allow the airline to operate.”

Ace Magashule
ANC urges members to behave themselves at Manifesto Launch
11 January 2019, 7:45 PM

The African National Congress says it expects all its members and those attending Saturday’s manifesto launch in Durban, to behave themselves.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule briefed the media in Durban on the party’s readiness to launch its election manifesto and celebrate its 107th anniversary at the Moses Mabhida stadium on Saturday.

He says “The Peoples’ Manifesto” will focus on re-igniting the country’s economy. Magashule has reiterated that it’s important for all those who will be at the stadium to conduct themselves with respect.

“You don’t go there to cause any problems. Our members are expected to be disciplined because the role of 2018 was about renewal, discipline, selflessness and unity. Everyone is expected, if you go to church and you are drunk you won’t enter so we won’t allow alcohol, divisive t-shirts.”

Several roads around the stadium will be closed from six o’clock tonight to the early hours of Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, ANC Women’s League President Bathabile Dlamini is currently leading a women’s march in the Durban city centre. The aim of the march is to highlight the plight of victims of gender-based violence.

During the march, issues that ordinary women are facing will be raised. They include the killing of young women by their partners.

Later, Dlamini will address the gathering, after which women will hold a night vigil ahead of the party’s big event at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Elections 2019



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