ANC Polokwane Conference

by Aug 1, 2011All Articles

AMANDLA PILOT ISSUE 3 | EDITORIAL : There can be few in SA unaware of the ANC Conference and its significance for the country. The commercial media have largely covered the conference out of angst. They fear that Jacob Zuma will be elected by a popular vote to lead the ANC, which in their view will be a disaster for the stability and prosperity of South Africa.
Our approach in Amandla is different. We believe it would be a bigger disaster if the popular will in the ANC was thwarted.  The ANC is the party that, together with other forces, led our national liberation struggle. It has mass support amongst a very broad range of sectors in our country. The most important component of the labour movement, COSATU, stands in alliance with it as does the biggest party of the left, the SACP. This Conference will not just elect a new leader but will take resolutions on policy that will have a profound impact on the direction of the country for the next five years.

Thabo Mbekiís influence on the ANC has been immense. The rebellion that was first expressed at the 2005 National General Council and again at the June 2007 Policy Conference has concentrated many grievances and much opposition without giving rise to an alternative project to that of Mbeki. Most of the opposition ñ but not all ñ has gravitated around the Presidential candidature of Jacob Zuma, whose support includes conflicting social forces and groupings, each of which are going to stake competing claims on a Zuma Presidency.

It is most unfortunate that the leadership struggle has produced no candidate with an alternative to the social liberal or pro market policies implemented by Mbeki, which have had devastating consequences for the poor and working people. One does not need to rely on the South African Institutes of Race Relationsí research to know that the poor have got poorer and the rich richer. Of great concern to the members of the ANC should be the oft-quoted statistic by COSATU that the share of national income for workers has declined from 55% in 1994 to just over 48% in 2006, while over the same period the share going to capital has increased to almost 52%. Since 1994 unemployment has doubled. Many statistics on poverty highlight between 40 and 50% of the population as being very poor.

It is not just in the ANC that people feel they have been marginalised and power concentrated in an over-centralised Presidency. In society at large the lack of popular mobilisation has meant that in spite of the huge resources invested in education, health and other social services these are not delivering. There is an overwhelming sense that poor working people are losing out to policies that aim to create a new elite, such as black economic empowerment. A project of popular renewal must therefore prioritise disentangling the ANC from the many threads binding the organisation, some of its leading members and its policies to big business. For this indeed a popular tsunami will be needed.

ëThe People shall Governí, proclaims the Freedom Charter. The popular forces in the ANC need to spell out a programme that gives content to this famous slogan, regardless of who they elect to be the next leadership of the ANC, if popular renewal is to become a reality.

Pilot Issue 3
This is our third pilot issue in which we in Amandla have embarked on a learning through doing process. 2008 represents the real deal. We therefore make an urgent appeal to all our readers to share their critical comments so we can provide a powerful and useful read.  From next year Amandla will no longer be available freely on our website Digital copies will only be available through subscription. Please see our special subscription offer and subscribe to Amandla and help make the publication financially feasible.

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