Friday, February 27, 2009

COPE as an alternative to ANC

From time to time, we'll put forward views on behalf of other parties that you may or may not agree with. In an election year, it is imperative that you be informed and know what you are voting for.

By Lindikhaya Maqasha

South African politics have reached a stage where they demand a mind-shift from an era of political revolution to that of civil service; from democratic transition to human civility and dignity for all. The new political narrative requires political activist who have moved away from personality cults and empty rhetoric to efficient civic institutions for efficient service delivery, otherwise our future will soon be that of civic strife, and masses rising up to take what’s rightfully theirs.

The political rigidness and inability to read the mood of the people, together with social dynamics and trends of the times will only lead us to climax of the presently failing revolution. Hence the Congress of the People has come as the formation from the ANC’s failures and abuses. Even without Terror Lekota a change in the South African political landscape was bound to happen; it would have been just a matter of time. Sam Shilowa and Lekota furrowed on irrigated ground.

It doesn’t need an intelligent scholar / or sophisticated revolutionary to unpack the present scenario. One needs not to consult books on historical and dialectical materialism lessons as the enabling tools of analysis of our political problems are accessible even to a common man. It is the plurality of views that is presently redefining the South African politics for a new change.

The issue of firing Mbeki was not a major propelling reason for the formation of COPE, but just an event which triggered the momentum. In actual fact, it made a significant impact in strengthening demand for the formation of a new party. Deception and corruption cannot fool everybody all the time.

The option of reforming the ANC by continued search for unity and cohesion from within expired at its 52nd National Conference at Polokwane. It there became apparent that the division were too deep-rooted and involved different mindset. Later it also emerged that the causes of divisions were disappointingly about the control of state resources. Some COPE members must share the blame with those of the ANC on this issue, but it is an argument of another day.

The Post-Polokwane new leadership failed to bring about unity within the ranks of the ANC, instead it instigated divisions whose sharp contradictions have since been multiplied visibly in the public domain. It became obvious that the movement had deviated from the aspirations of the Freedom Charter and violated the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa by recalling a seating president without the sanctions of Parliament or Constitutional Court.

It is the combination of all of these that derailed the ANC from the project of alleviating abject poverty of the toiling masses. The free South African society was also tremendously undermined by the growing arrogance of the Tripartite Alliance (TA) secondary partners, the SACP and COSATU.

The first error of the ANC was in thinking that it patented the freedom of South Africans by being the prominent member of the Liberation Movement, to an extant of feeling within its rights to ignore their rights of South Africans under the pressures of survival for its party. Alexandra Spirkin says “… self-consciousness implies that, before taking decisions or formulating and articulating organisational positions, political leaders must factor in the demands of the society.” There’s also the issue of laws of the society which guide the conduct of leaders and society at large that the TA lately has been feeling absolved from obeying.

It is undisputed that ANC the image has been severely dented in many ways because its political consciousness has diminished. Putting the interests of the people first above those of individuals and the party carries the ability of a seasoned cadre to see the linkages and the interconnections between the society and its leadership. COPE aims at restoring the confidence of the public on politics.

What is consciousness? It is self-awareness, meaning - “knowing and perceiving; having awareness of surroundings and sensations and thoughts, self-conscious awareness, self-conscious about their roles as guardians of the social values” (D.M. Potter). This consciousness is absent in the higher ranks of the ANC at this moment. Social values and laws that govern society are the basis to which one has to learn and grasp before tendering services to society, and it is how one is judged on his or her capabilities to handle such issues. The disregard of these social mores by the ANC leadership is abhorrent.

COPE emerged from the initiative of men and women whose self-consciousness made them aware that they are “guardians of social values”. Who are aware that we no longer live in a society where members of the public are not aware of their rights. That no political party can just do as it wishes no matter how big it following.

Self-consciousness should serve as a guiding tool in social conduct. Not only does COPE come with self-consciousness, it derives it from social and political realities of our society and times. COPE’s strength of formation was in the failures of the ANC, the deviation and violation of our culture, traditions, norms, practices, value system, ethical conduct and revolutionary morality which used to attract and inspire many in all respect.

In an a way COPE came as a saviour also of the ANC by reminding it what it is betraying, hence you find the ANC leaders at their rallies mentioning as the party’s way forward issues raised by COPE; like respect of law, service delivery and fighting corruption, etc.

The ANC has been reduced to spiral reactionary politics by the emergence of COPE. Someone who didn’t know would think COPE was in government and the ANC an opposition with all its reactionary politics. The central issue with the ANC is not even its corruption, but ideological petrifaction and visionary bankruptcy. Its demise is that of weak leadership and power mongers who are clueless about the real issues of the day. And it has been tremendously weakened by its Alliance partners whose only strategy is to highjack the programme of the ANC from the present ignorant leadership of the ANC.

Since the 1994 democratic breakthrough the think-tank of the ANC has been a black-box that fails to pre-empt the consequences of the continuity of the South African democratic process. Instead it developed the tendency of arrogance, labelling those who thought out of its box as counter-revolutionaries and promoters of pro-capitalist designs, influenced by the imperialist agenda who want to end the overwhelming homogeneity of the Alliance power. COPE has liberated most of us from those tendencies by allowing respect and contention one’s point of view. Out of the ANC you feel free to explore more progressive thought.

The ANC fought for this democracy and led the process of drafting the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. It fought for the rights of individual members of society to choose their political affiliation on merit as they wish. It is ironic that it should recognise these things only when under the banner of its own alliance. When other parties fulfil this mandate they are striving to destroy ANC aims and objectives.

Why is the TA afraid of a robust debate if it is so certain of being on the right side of history? The truth of the matter is that when the ANC aborted Nation Building project it fell into the Mobuthofication style of leadership drive with war talks against COPE, which is very divisive and will never build a non-racial nation. For instance, the ANCYL’s leadership crudeness and lumpen radicalism tolerated and indirectly endorsed by the ANC top leadership is a very dangerous course to take in SA’s still immature democracy.

That the ANC has up to now not reviewed the relevance of its Alliance in the current conjuncture of our revolution as we are faced with global realities is one of its crucial failures since the fall of the Berlin-Wall (West and East Block) and collapse of the Soviet Bloc. The reality is that the paradigm shift in the global politics changed and left the TA behind with obsolete ideologies. Many political commentators in SA believe the formation of Congress of the People has led to the introduction of a vibrant non-racial opposition into South Africa’s democratic system. Only the TA believe COPE to be counter-revolutionaries.

Unfortunately the ANC and its Alliance partners have since shifted from the culture of political tolerance, engagement, critical analysis and introspection. Gone are the days when it used to be a school of political discussion and constructive engagement. Towards the establishment of COPE it lost its moorings.

The reality is that TA leaders refuse to accept the reality of COPE’s existence, its attractive political dynamics, change and mind-shift to accommodate the timely demands of the society. It doesn’t need sophisticated judgement, or unique revolutionary intelligentsia to use correct with right measures and tools of analysis for the solutions to the challenges of our times. The ANC has chosen to descend into anti-intellectualism and ideological incoherence because of dearth of vision, and absence of strategic thinking and direction.

Gone are the days when the ANC was a contesting terrain for progressive ideas of all social classes in shaping political agenda and direction for SA. It has shifted to the interests of the elites, only now the elites happen to wear the banner for the interests of the poor. It has lost its unifying factor and tolerance for opportunism, cronyism, nepotism and corruption. The ANC wheel tyres have run flat. The party is now moving on rims, grooving the road of our democratic achievements. It hugely suffers from denialsm and lack of introspection that is making it sink with our rich history and good heritage. The major problem is bankruptcy of vision and lack of proper leadership.

The ANC should begin to accept that COPE has occupied the abundant vacuum the ANC created in opting for prioritising its party interest over those of the country. COPE exist, and grow, mostly by capitalising on the failures of the ANC as it defines its identity. It’s aim is to introduce politics of Progressive Democratic Revolution (PDR) agenda free of politics of opportunism, nepotism, and cronyism.

COPE’s progressive modernism will be hollow if it doesn’t take into cognisance the African Knowledge Base System which is flavoured by the life outlook of Ubuntu, and nurtured with African cultural and traditional doctrine.

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Funny how blacks use long words but still can't write properly.

Anonymous said...

"It has lost its unifying factor and tolerance for opportunism, cronyism, nepotism and corruption."

An actual quote about the ANC from the article. I would understand it as it has lost both its unifying factor and (it has lost) its tolerance for said things. How else are you supposed to understand a sentence like that?

Still the COPE is hopefully the more moderate part of the ANC and in a coalition government with the DA and maybe FF could make good changes, if they did make headway amongs the blind masses that support the ANC.

Best wishes,