Beyond smiles and platitudes, the ANC is confronted to lead in answering core questions!


Clyde Ramalaine

On the eve of a 2018 sunset, what does SA need going forward?

The sun is literally setting on 2018 – an eventful year in many ways. In three days’, time, South Africa will enter 2019 – which also marks its 25th year of political freedom since the legislative apartheid illegitimate rulership. As the sixth national elections planned for May loom, it is imperative that these next few days become a moment of serious reflection.

While throughout the years we have celebrated what has been dubbed a miracle time for the country, we are also reminded of how the past continues to haunt us and how “political freedom” has fallen short in engaging the anomalies of over 400 years of suppression, oppression and debasement of the masses that denotes the South African populace.

If we are on the threshold of a new year that will re-emphasise old and current pressing burdens, then we ought to ask ourselves: At this time, what does South Africa really need?

Our daily encounters with our sordid past have long shaved the veneer off the “miracle” and a settlement in which apartheid benefactors have received a far better deal.

South Africans have learnt that outsourcing the entirety of meaningful life into the hands of political personalities and groups is a highly irresponsible act with precarious consequences. Citizens are learning that the political power-world is less honest about the need for overarching, concrete and transformative solutions that benefits the masses, but instead plays in the proverbial railway – lines of oncoming trains with ease, knowing the masses and not they will bury the dead. It is learning elitism has little do with melanin deficit or surplus. If we are to move in the right direction South Africans must re-claim its own agency and determine what society they seek to thrive in.

They must, therefore, dispense with 25 years of over-reliance on political parties and honouring political personalities with crass iconic status. As difficult for some as it may sound, we can categorically say today that we simply do not need a Nelson Mandela or his copycat.

Madiba is our history and any further romanticising of him ultimately enslaves critical free-thinking and stifles any prospects of development post-1994. The worship of Madiba and whoever else refuses to engage with the anomalies of our historical past in which he gained prominence sets us back.

As it is, South Africa remains confronted by real problems and a great part of this is often abused by our need to want to turn a blind eye in taking refuge in the prescribed drug of Mandela.

At the end of this year, South Africans know that the ruling party has failed dismally to provide a clear economic vision for SA. It still remains a party trapped in a coagulum of neo-liberalism while it struggles to interpret its meaning beyond the rhetoric of Marx, the SACP-borrowed substratum of its past ideological paradigm.

In this season, what aids the confusion more is the prevalence of the very public thin layer of black essentially connected families of what I term the “buffer zone”. This group remains a strategic bulwark of neutralisers for any attempt of the masses to access what they fought for.

Their political power positions combined with their acquired personal wealth and stake in a deformed economy is the growing reason the masses still languish in poverty. They in the spirit of a Mandela-bastardised legacy have increasingly become the new insurance policy for apartheid’s white privilege to continue unabated.

If 2019 must bring anything new, it warrants the masses to relook at those whom they call comrades, chief – those who directly aid the enslavement and destruction of radical economic transformation. Permit me to borrow from township slang, these constitute the ‘new mlungus’.

South Africa can do without a crop of dishonest and embedded elite who straddle the spheres of politics, religion, academics, business, civil society, the judiciary and the media, who more than often arrogate the right to economically benefit from the handouts of apartheid masters, and equally to speak for and reprimand the masses.

South Africa needs people who are more honest and less suffering from the intoxicating disease of avarice, of which they easily accuse others.

If South Africa is to progress, the arrogated rights of the elites – as an interspersed mashed group evidencing a hypocritical morality that conveniently remains silent on the negative role their apartheid white identity partners who dry-cleaned most of them, play – must be exposed and laid bare.

South Africa needs a media that is not controlled by a cohort of bitter individuals, in some instances gender-based, who are in cahoots with political and economic role-players engaging in daily proxy wars afforded carte blanche to abuse its discourse for their personal sake when they arrogate the right to call others fake because they can.

South Africa can do without a labour community that has long lost the true interest of workers

If we are serious about change, the country needs a more honest organised labour fraternity. SA simply do not need a cabinet guard camouflaged in claims of organised labour, whose only interest is to direct who sits in the cabinet.  We do not need a group of political power hobnobs who pride themselves sharing on social media their latest Porsche Cayenne’s and where they have gone for holidays, in the name of the workers. Those who tell us what caviar they ate while posting pictures with their favourite Cabinet ministers.

Having looked at what South Africa does not need, let us then ask again what it does need, and what its entrusted political mandate holder will say in its January 8 Statement, to be delivered on January 12.

Needless to say, this Statement constitutes its Manifesto since we are entering an election year. As bodies of all sizes and shapes draped in all sorts of green, yellow and black attire gather in Kwazulu-Natal, we must pause and ask: What do we need?

Beyond the broad smiles, senseless morning walks (the poor walk daily) a sophisticated public relations machinery and make-shift economic exercises, beyond platitudes of vaunted new dawn stillborn in a ‘Thuma mina’ campaign that never found any traction SA must keep the ANC accountable to stop with the games and become serious  

  • South Africans need the ruling party and all-party formations to be honest. For the ANC to come clean and admit that its uncritically adopted apartheid race configurations continue to fuel racism. South Africans need the opportunity to have its ruling party and all-party formations hear its claim for a democratic right to self-define beyond and freed from the uncritically adopted unscientific race frames that beyond apartheid protests the fullness of our identity formulation and articulation in questionable means of black, white, coloured, African, and Indian notions. The ongoing pretence of the State to assume it knows what is meant in the difference between these groups that confirm a questionable multiple race ideology must be exposed for what it is. The ANC warrants to come clean that it uncritically adopted apartheid’s race configurations that continue to fuel racism. We all know the identity configurations of African, ‘Black’, ‘White’ ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indian’ as used during Apartheid hardly had any cultural essence to it but are endemically racist labels depicting a hierarchy of relational powers of oppression.
  • It must admit 25 years on its National Question in its articulation of ‘black in general’ and ‘African in particular’ notions firstly are not just outdated but devoid of any recent engaging for its challenging praxis. It warrants telling us what is meant with the African identity it so easily and glibly in particularity advances, knowing it has in this season birthed a new racialised exclusive value of entitlement directly extrapolated from an uninformed narrow apartheid prism when it arrogates a right to exclude others from a geographical birth-right of Africa.


  • South Africans warrant engaging the ANC bandied notions of ‘non-racialism’ often blindly used when the content of such remains obfuscated, vacuous eternalised as rhetoric and devoid of developed thought that defines the panoply of current engaging as we think ourselves into a better society. Beyond ANC sloganeering of non-racialism, provide us with the content that affords us to engage the meaning of this claim.
  • South Africans need to be unapologetic about the land question. It needs not a camouflage of a land debate in which a Christine Lagarde of the IMF in her whistle-stop visit, tells us in her engaging the caretaker president Ramaphosa he underscored the symbolic importance of this gesture. I am afraid land restitution and redress with the gross benefit for the masses is not a goodwill symbolic gesture, it’s not symbolic it is non-negotiable. It was land, the reason our forebears for the first time in 1483 staved off an onslaught of the Portuguese and rightly defended what belonged to them. What we have seen 12 months on is a watered-down game of land speak, where the ANC remains in sixes and sevens on what is meant with land redress. Depending on who you speak to in the ANC you still continue to get diverse interpretations of this 54th Conference Resolution. It was always about land, for therein lays the economy of a nation captured. A denial of access is a denial of meaningful participation in an economy. The ANC’s manifesto not in the shallowness of rhetoric must again bind itself to deliver land for the masses and quit asking the masses to present a business plan what they will do with the land.
  • South Africans desperately need radical economic transformation, which simply means the conscious radical change of control, ownership, managing and means of an SA economy in which the masses are not mere bystanders but actively engaged in opportunity, access to craft their own life- spaces. The States ’role is to create the conducive climate and atmosphere in birthing, developing and implementing functional policies of such in a non-negotiable sense. The State furthermore has a direct fiduciary duty to use its own buying power to enable the radical nature of that envisaged economic change no different to an apartheid government exercised. Hitherto, we have heard much noise while the State in its procurement spends is yet to implement the low 30% an ANC party agreed to as a start. Apartheid companies still grossly benefit from the State coffers and the increasing assertion of black entrepreneurship as equating corruption has rather gained traction leading to for some to a justified lack of change in procurement spending.

RET cannot be draped in loose-fitting baggy kaftans of what is called ‘inclusive growth’, to hide the true size of apartheid beneficiaries’ hand in the post-democracy era.  Inclusive growth is not ANC policy but the campaign agenda of a CR17 group whose appetite for delivering ANC resolutions of RET remains more than suspicious.  The ANC’s manifesto warrant committing itself to RET and stop the economic doublespeak.

  • South Africa needs to respond to the ticking time bomb of an alarmingly high unemployment rate. We are running an economy controlled by 55 to 75-year-olds who are a dying breed and have carved out no plans for their children to lead because they failed to produce job opportunities for this generation. The disparity is real and we do not have the luxury of postponing action on meaningful job creation initiatives in this regard.
  • So as the ANC readies to tell us what they will do in 2019 – 2024, it cannot but engage the subject of job creation, not in the superfluous sense, but cognizant of the impending volcano that will erupt in which spewing lava will not spare the elite, either.
  • The ANC must commit itself to say unequivocally what the actual plan with Eskom and other SOES is. It must tell the nation if it agreed on a deal to have Eskom privatised by means of business rescue exercise in which the same elites stand to pick up pieces for a tenth the value of what Eskom is worth.
  • It also warrants explaining to its members and voters what has happened to the unity it a year ago was instructed to work for. It dares not explain this unity in claims of a good working relationship between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma for the totality of its meaning. It must explain the ongoing purging and denial of skills by its arrogant ministers who can’t get over a 2017 election campaign to target some regardless of a sphere in denial of opportunities to serve SA. The Ramaphosa leadership must tell us how his collective actions this year assisted the cause of unity since this is a major issue if he has any hope of summiting Mount May Elections in 2019.
  • It must explain the ongoing purging and denial of skilled people by its arrogant ministers, who can’t get over a 2017 election campaign to target some regardless of the sphere in denying due and rightful opportunities to serve South Africa.
  • The Ramaphosa leadership must tell us how his collective actions in 2018 assisted the cause of unity since this is a major issue if he has any hope of summiting Mount May Elections in 2019.

Finally, the ANC under its current leadership needs to admit it has sought to use state capture claims and the commission to essentially settle political scores, in which the organisation is and remains on trial, as diverse formations of factions turn on each other to deal with each other. It must convince us as voters why we must continue to trust its confirmed factionalised androgyny of identity to lead this society when it has made a mockery of the voters’ mandate hitherto for failing to lead since it is being led in all spheres that define society.

The ANC and its Ramaphosa led leadership warrant answering us the voters on these matters.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation