The number of cases brought successfully against ANC pseudo structures exposes the inherent weakness of the ANC as an organisation in relation to those of its members with narrow private interests who feel entitled to lead the party.

The simplest way to contest a leadership position in a democratic culture is for one to present a compelling manifesto and profile and humbly subject their political ambitions to the fate of the people. Aspirant leaders must convince fellow members why they seek to be elected and allow those members to vote freely using their own free will and judgement.

However, that is not so in the ANC in many cases. ANC politicians prefer manipulation and control of processes as well as domination over individual members in order to ensure they become leaders regardless of the genuine will of the people.

To achieve their leadership aspirations, people lie, sideline others, steal, buy votes, and promise heaven and earth in order to be elected. They intimidate some and hold others at ransom. This is why people would have “the numbers” even before a conference sits, and precisely why outcomes of “democratic processes” in the party can almost always be faltered.

The distinguishing factor between a system in which leadership emerges through crockery and one with a genuine democratic culture with members having free space to make their own decisions, is humility and, by implication, a focus on pleasing the people. Its opposite, found in neopatrimonialism political sytems described above, is arrogance and entitlement, with the membership held at ransom by aspirant leaders and bullied to supress their genuine wishes.

The solution for the ANC is to close all the loops that allow individuals, be they at leadership or general membership level, to violate processes, systems, and structures for narrow political gain. Anything less will not salvage what’s left of the rapidly declining liberation party.

Ongama Mtimka is a political analyst, senior researcher, lecturer, and PhD candidate at Nelson Mandela University’s Department of Political & Conflict Studies. He writes on his personal capacity.