South Africans can look to the DA’s Vision 2029

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SABC Digital News has offered an opportunity to all opposition political parties represented in Parliament an opportunity to comment on the African National Congress (ANC) National General Council (NGC) 2015 policy discussion documents. Herewith the input received from the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The recent release of the ANC’s National General Council (NGC) discussion documents provide a valuable, although greatly concerning insight into where the party would like to take South Africa in the years to come, should it continue to govern.
The document provides a surprisingly honest assessment of the state of the nation, acknowledging the problems posed by endemic corruption and an economy that is underperforming relative to its peers.

By their own admission, “with regard to such issues as state capacity and effectiveness, ethical conduct, dignity and gravitas, the ANC is losing the moral high-ground.” The ANC concedes that there is a “general impression of systemic corruption” in our society, including “allegations … within high leadership echelons,” acknowledging that “many of the acts of corruption in government derive from party dynamics.”

What it falls short of doing is directly assigning any of the blame to the failure of Jacob Zuma’s presidency. Instead, it takes the position of painting the ANC as the victim of a campaign to discredit it. The solution it identifies for this problem is not a change in leadership, but a propaganda war aimed at undermining its perceived enemies.

The problem from the ANC’s perspective is that it has not “demanded its rightful share of the media space,” a space which it says is currently filled with “baseless attacks.” It is in the context of this belief that it takes aim at the media who expose its weaknesses by calling for the formulation of a “battle plan” to use “strategic allies” to “influence media” and broaden the ANC’s circle of “sympathetic … analysts and journalists.”

But no amount of propaganda can obscure the fact that over the past two decades we have seen a seismic shift in the ANC away from the values espoused by Nelson Mandela. One the most concerning manners in which this is reflected in the NGC documents is in the section on international relations.

The ANC expresses concern over the rise of US imperialism, instead suggesting that “the exemplary role of the collective leadership of the Communist Party of China in [achieving economic development] should be a guiding lodestar of our own struggle” in this regard.

This reflects a worldview that regresses back to a Cold War polarisation of East versus West. Warning against the threat posed by the “centrality of the Washington Consensus,” the ANC paints the fall of the Berlin Wall in negative terms, sides with the Chinese government over the pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, and positions the Russia-Ukraine conflict as an anti-Russian conspiracy driven from Washington.

In 1993 Mandela wrote that the ANC’s foreign policy would be based on the belief that “just and lasting solutions to the problems of humankind can only come through the promotion of democracy worldwide,” further stating that “considerations of justice and respect for international law should guide the relations between nations.”

In contrast to this view, the NGC documents reflect an ANC that has increasingly come to side with some of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Russia and China are both classified as “not free” on the 2015 Freedom in the World report, having received scores of 6 and 6.5 respectively. A score of 7 represents a worst case scenario and a virtual lack of civil liberties and political rights.
In reflecting on a visit to China led by Jeff Radebe and Lindiwe Sisulu, head of ANC research, Thami Ka Plaatjie, wrote in August that “the advanced study tour was intended to soak the leadership in the latest development models of China,” including lessons on how to deal with opposition parties and the benefits of cadre deployment.

Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, echoed a similar sentiment after her July visit to China, stating that it would serve as a “good opportunity to learn more about China and its development in broadcast and the broader TV industry.” China is ranked 176th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index; it is concerning what the ANC would like to learn from this example.
While it is certain that we are experiencing a shift in the global power balance that sees an increase in the primacy of the East, it is clumsy to suggest that this places us in a position where we must pick sides between the two. This is an archaic notion. There are enormous gains to be had from increased engagement with our BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, Russia, and South Africa) partners and other economies in the South and East, but we must uphold our democratic principles and respect for freedom in doing so.
What the NGC documents reveal is that the ANC is losing support and embarking on a systematic project of state capture to guard against this, and is being informed by its friends in China and Russia on how to go about it.

There are clear dangers to the ANC’s decision to choose its geopolitical friends based solely on ideological underpinnings, especially when those friends pose a threat to the values enshrined in our Constitution. Instead we should encourage relationships that increase the level of trade reciprocity in the best interest of broad economic growth.

But there is hope. In contrast to the NGC discussion document, South Africans can look to Vision 2029, released by the DA in June this year. This document, underpinned by the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity, seeks to set out what South Africa would like after 10 years of DA government.

There is a groundswell of dissatisfaction growing against the ANC which has lost the political will to build a better future. In contrast to this the DA is increasingly being recognised as a government in waiting that can provide hope for a better tomorrow.
Fortunately the NGC documents do not represent government policy – yet. If South Africans want to guard against the threat of an ANC that is clearly preparing to fight to entrench its power they should vote for the DA and for freedom

– By OPINION: Democratic Alliance (DA)