17/12/2017 06:22 SAST | Updated 17/12/2017 11:32 SAST

Is The ANC Almost Finished And Klaar?

There are four scenarios for the ANC's future, says party veteran Joel Netshitenzhe.


President Jacob Zuma has delivered his final big speech as ANC president and his term is almost finished. The same question may be also be asked of the ANC: Is it also almost finished and klaar?

An ANC conference of members is a spectacle to watch. Because the party is a movement, the arrival of its delegates in green, black and gold, singing freedom songs, is like a sea of past history and of present power.

As delegates started arriving at the ANC conference centre at the national showgrounds called Nasrec in Johannesburg, the culture is the same, but the questions are different.

ANC grandées have started speaking about the governing party in the past tense and in existential terms. How long can the ANC survive? And what should be in its survival kit?

Delivering the OR Tambo memorial lecture earlier this year, former president Thabo Mbeki said the ANC faced the third moment of extinction in its 105-year history because of the challenges facing the party.

Addressing ANC veterans, Njabulo Ndebele said the ANC needed to anticipate a moment when it was no longer in control.

The ANC is riven by division and the government it is in charge of has seen the economy tank and unemployment climb to crisis levels.

ANC NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe says there is a view that the ANC faces four scenarios at this conference. He did not attribute victors but outlined the four scenarios for HuffPost SA. These are:

1. A good outcome will see concerted action to deal with the challenges.

2. Relatively good outcome but with a leadership team so balanced between factions that there is paralysis in dealing with the challenges.

3. A pessimistic outcome will see a poor leadership team elected but with actions that take account of how bleak the ANC's prospects are for a resounding electoral victory in the 2019 national election.

4. A most pessimistic outcome will be one that does not elect a team to turn around the ANC from a future as a patronage network with declining electoral fortunes.

Netshitenzhe says the ANC may be saved by the growing understanding in the ranks of the ANC that "you can win 2017 and lose 2019" because the traditional ANC electorate has started to pass its judgement. The ANC's support is declining. In the August 2016 local election, the party lost control of four key cities. Netshitenzhe says the ANC may be saved by "self-interest not only based on ethics and morality but one influenced by considerations of patronage and lifestyle".

Ndebele said in November: "The measure of its political maturity will be in how the ANC creates conditions that anticipate that moment [when it loses power] rather than ones that seek to prevent it. Can it conceptually anticipate a future when it is no longer overwhelmingly in control and resist the temptation to prevent such an eventuality by means outside of the visionary parameter of its own intellectual resourcefulness and the deep-seated ideological believes that have reigned over a period of 100 years?"