Source: Financial Mail

JUSTICE MALALA: What SA will look like, when the ANC goes

It will be a fantastic and glorious moment when the dying party realises it can no longer get away with its corrupt ways


For many, the idea of an SA without the ANC is jarring, scary, perhaps even unimaginable. This is a party that has been at the centre of our lives for the 27 years of SA’s democracy, and for 82 years before that. Nearly all SA’s liberation organisations — and many post-apartheid opposition parties — are offshoots of the ANC. Most homeland leaders under apartheid genuflected before the ANC. It has been everything.

Yet the possibility that many of us have spoken about for the past 14 years is setting in now. The ANC, even with a principled, not-so-new leader in Cyril Ramaphosa, is dying. The looming local elections and the 2024 national elections may not be the end, but there is no serious analyst who would posit that a great surge of ANC popularity is imminent.

A coalition of parties, large and small, which may include the ANC, will lead SA in its fourth decade of democracy. If things get really moving, there is even a likelihood that a single party could be formed and sweep in with a new vision and programme for the country — and win. This is no longer just a long-term scenario or a pipe dream. It’s a real and present proposition.

The ANC could not get large chunks of its candidates registered for the local government elections next month. It could not even scrape together the money needed to register these candidates. It has not paid salaries for two months. Business Day reported that when “Ramaphosa took office as party president in December 2017, the ANC owed more than R100m to the SA Revenue Service as it grappled with over R400m in total debt”.

“The debt started accumulating in 2010, three years after Jacob Zuma won the party’s internal election to become its leader. This means that while Zuma was president of SA the ANC was not paying taxes and unemployment benefits for staff during the period of state capture.”

The ANC’s finances have been run as shockingly as Zuma’s notoriously bad personal finances, and it shows in the troubled states of both

It’s hard for a business or an organisation to come back from a situation as dire as this. The ANC is in deep trouble when it cannot pay its staff and owes the taxman so much money. These may not be the end of days for the party, but the signs and perceptions are damaging. The ANC’s finances have been run as shockingly as Zuma’s notoriously bad personal finances, and it shows in the troubled state of both as Zuma is out of jail on medical parole and the ANC is a broken shell of its former self.

Former finance minister Tito Mboweni argues that it’s not over for the ANC. There are many others like him. I wish them luck, I truly do, but they sadly need to know that the world is what it is, not what they wish it to be.

A future in which the ANC no longer holds power means that any hope the party had of remaking SA beyond what it is now has gone out of the window. Other parties’ interests and visions will now have to be accommodated. Even if the ANC falls below 50% but cobbles together an alliance with small parties, it will still have to take some level of dictation from those entities before it can push through its key programmes. Those who do not believe this merely have to look at what happened in our metros, from Joburg to Tshwane to Nelson Mandela Bay, to see what a complicated egg dance coalitions can be.

If these new arrangements do not spell the end of power for the ANC, they certainly spell the end of its arrogance. Power is no longer guaranteed. Impunity for its corrupt members will no longer be a given either. That, in itself, will be a fantastic and glorious moment for our country as the ANC’s thievery was allowed to flourish because party leaders knew they could get away with it. Not even the “good guys” in the ANC spoke up, for the sake of unity. Now other players will be in the band, and they won’t allow long, boring solos from the lead guitarist.

What a glorious time to be alive.