Opinion: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma exposes the dictatorship of democratic centralism in the ANC: ‘I vote yes’

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By Political analyst  Dr Fikile Vilakazi

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and three others stood up boldly and said: ‘as a disciplined member of the ANC, I vote yes’. This was in response to a question that was asked by the speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula.

What a bold step and a beautiful moment it was for many South Africans to watch with a deep sigh of
relief and hope that finally, sanity has prevailed, at least at that moment as the EFF was also ululating and clapping for her as well. Very unprecedented, especially amongst women in the ANC to tow away from the party line, which has been decided by the National Executive Committee to be a ‘no vote’ to the Phalaphala farm independent panel report.

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma asserts that what is called a party line position was actually not debated openly as
required by a system of democratic centralism that the ANC subscribes to, which is a Leninist governance and
organizational system that basically insists that decisions that are reached by voting processes are binding on all
members of a political party.

These are allegations that South Africans cannot ignore given the well-known history of Leninist democratic
centralism dictatorial and authoritarian praxis in countries where it has been largely practiced, like in China, the
Soviet Union, Cuba and Russia amongst others where gross violations of autonomy and freedom of citizens and
members of political parties was/is witnessed in those systems as it is now disappointingly observed in the ANC.

The ANC military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe was largely trained and supported by militaries and governments of
these countries to fight against apartheid in South Africa and has therefore internalized some of these dangerous
oppressive elements of democratic centralism in the manner in which it runs itself as a political organization.

Suffice to say that maybe democratic centralism worked as a military praxis to ensure discipline amongst cadre
soldiers to minimize betrayals of the struggle against apartheid; fair enough; but does it remain relevant for ANC
now that it is no longer a military organization but has evolved into an organization that aspires to democratic

My assertion is no, it is dangerous and must be reviewed and perhaps done away with at the 55th
Conference in NASREC in the interest of freedom of expression, autonomy of thought and praxis for members
and for citizens, if ANC has to continue its brand as a ‘leader of the National Democratic Revolution [NDR]’ in South Africa.

Freedom of expression and autonomy of thought are fundamental basic tenets of the NDR and must never
be thwarted and curtailed at any point, not even in the name of Lenin’s democratic centralism, otherwise, the
ANC is running into a danger zone of upsetting the equilibrium and tone of the NDR towards dictatorship and
authoritarianism if such an equilibrium ever existed at all. This is what Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is telling the
nation when she voted yes. She is exposing the dictatorship of democratic centralism in the ANC and in our
political system in general.

Feminist political thought and praxis tell us that autonomy, voice and freedom of thought are essential
components of any democracy and clearly the ANC is dwindling in this area. And why is the ANC stuck on Leninism anyway when they should be informed by the evolving dialectical materialism of contemporary South Africa which should vehemently direct their decision-making capacities, policies and praxis towards the realization of the material conditions of the people of South Africa?

If dialectical materialism is anything to go with for a Marxist-driven ANC, it should remind them at the 55th conference in NASREC that political and historical events result from the conflict of social forces and are interpretable as a series of contradictions and their related solutions and that conflict in society is always seen as caused by material needs.

The ANC must emerge from this 55th conference with a clear solution to resolve the deeply deteriorating material conditions of South Africans.

Let us fix our fragmented families, prioritize reparations and healing of apartheid wounds and pay attention to the agenda of national healing as parallel to that of national unity and renewal by localizing the economy and decentralizing political power and resources to local districts, civil movements, even to local municipalities. These issues are inseparable and are mutually interdependent, otherwise, one without the other will just continue to dig deeper into this gaping wound of citizens and exacerbate socio-economic and political bleeding that we see in our nation daily. It is possible! but is the ANC up for the task?

The 55th conference must answer this question, South Africans are watching and asking. We have plenty of resources to fix the country, but one thing is for sure, vultures will have to shift! In the words of Thomas Sankara, Steven Bantu Biko and Oliver Tambo, South Africans, we can no longer ‘be spectators’ in this collective revolution, it needs all of us not just the

We can no longer afford to watch and stand by as the country sinks into deep muddy waters! In the spirit of
our collective ancestors and ancestresses Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Charlotte Maxeke, Jessie
Duarte, Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, Chris Hani and Peter Mokaba, it is time to Rise! Thokozani