THE BLOG
15/12/2017 11:24 SAST | Updated 15/12/2017 12:57 SAST

ANC Delegates Must Think About Which Candidates Will Best Serve South Africa

"The list of presidential candidates from which delegates have to choose is not very inspiring and the two leading candidates are less than ideal."

Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters
Former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma chats with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

With hours to go to the 54th ANC National Conference, the anticipation is palpable. The future of the ANC and the South African governing party is in the hands of about 5,000 delegates who seem to be the most courted people in the country at present.

Fair-minded comrades such as Wally Serote have appealed to the delegates to "cast your vote for integrity, honesty, anti-corruption, anti-factionalism and for principled unity". Others, such as Jessie Duarte -- who sat on their hands while President Zuma acted like Father Christmas, enabling the looting of our state coffers by those we all consider to be naughty, but who are very nice to him and his family -- blamed the failure of the ANC to reduce poverty on the movement's error in allowing it "to be led by a combination of business and labour".

Ms Duarte's dog whistles about the presidential candidate with labour and business credentials, as she attempted to place the blame for the ANC failing the poor elsewhere, was not lost on politics-savvy South Africans.

It is a sad legacy that the ANC leadership -- which was elected in 2012 -- leaves behind, as they for the most part of their term were more occupied with the lint in their navel than in calling their leader to order. Like a mangy dog, preoccupied with its itch, the current ANC NEC seemed to be preoccupied with keeping Jacob Zuma in the Presidency.

Their failure to hold the president accountable when he was found by the Constitutional Court to be -- in the words of the Economic Freedom Fighters -- a "constitutional delinquent", has resulted in our country suffering unspeakable harm. Under the ANC's watch, fuel prices reached levels unseen and the unemployment rate peaked at a 13-year high.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Former National Director of Public Prosecutions,Shaun Abrahams.

The current ANC leadership's foolish support for a man whom the North Gauteng High Court found to have been "conflicted" when he appointed Shaun Abrahams as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) is incomprehensible.

The NDPP decision, as well as the pronouncement -- by the same court -- that Zuma's attempt to review former public prosecutor Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report was reckless and ill-advised, proves that the ANC has subjected South Africans to a president who has no understanding of what his job entails.

The current NEC will hand over a dry-rot-infested baton to a new ANC leadership, which the ANC delegates will vote into power.

Under the veil of "being a disciplined member of the ANC", the organisation allowed Zuma to fumble his way through the Presidency with impunity and without any regard for the harm his self-serving decisions and actions had on South Africans, especially the poor whom they claim to be fighting for.

At the ANC's National Conference at Nasrec from 16 to 20 December, the current NEC will hand over a dry-rot-infested baton to a new ANC leadership, which the ANC delegates will vote into power.

The track-record of ANC delegates leaves a lot to be desired. ANC delegates in the past did not show very good judgment when they elected Zuma in Polokwane in 2008 and, even though it was clear by the 2012 conference at Mangaung that Zuma's election was a gigantic disaster, the majority of the ANC delegates doubled down on that decision.

Therefore, I am not too optimistic that the ANC delegates will vote in the interest of South Africa this time around. Despite the ANC branches, and thus the provinces, having voted in favour of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the organisation, it will be the delegates at Nasrec who will cast their votes. The decision is between the delegates and their ballot papers and thus the outcome remains uncertain.

The list of presidential candidates from which delegates have to choose is not very inspiring and the two leading candidates are less than ideal.

I gave up on the ANC many years ago, so like many South Africans, I anxiously await the decision that the ANC delegate class of 2017 will make.

The choice is between a man who inarguably is very capable (but he was also the deputy president while Zuma played Russian roulette with the South African economy) and a woman who competently headed three government departments and the African Union, but who seems to have been reduced to little more than a Russian nesting doll. South Africans remain uncertain whose interest she will serve should she be elected president.

It is hard to shake our feelings of doubt that Dlamini-Zuma will act in the interest of all South Africans while making South Africa the beacon of light again. I must admit that I am not convinced that Dlamini-Zuma will not be influenced by her shady donors or her ex-husband. She does, after all, still retain the president's name almost 10 years after their divorce, which makes the claim that she is her own woman ring hollow.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma chats with South Africa's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

I gave up on the ANC many years ago, so like many South Africans, I anxiously await the decision that the ANC delegate class of 2017 will make. Reports of the buying of votes are very worrying, yet I cannot impugn the integrity of the delegates by believing that their votes can be bought.

After all, I also remember those Old Mother Hubbard moments during my student days when I needed money for fees or food and how my prayers that my needs be provided for were answered by a call from my father insisting that I use his money or by a knock at the door with neighbours bringing food. It will be unrealistic of me to expect that, where money is being offered to delegates, to provide not only in their needs but also in their wants, they would refuse it. Of course, my hope is that delegates do refuse.

However, if delegates take the money offered to them, then I trust that they will not turn the money that they view as a blessing to them into a bribe; for, it could be argued, that the money given to delegates is a gift and only becomes a bribe when delegates, in fact, do as those giving the money asked them to go against their better judgement.

The ANC's 2017 elective conference will decide their leadership and possibly the leadership of the country in 2019 and I hope that before delegates vote, they will think about which candidates will best serve South Africa and its people. I hope that the delegates will make decisions that will make all South Africans proud.

It is clear that as long as so many of our people remain trapped in poverty, without decent housing and dependent on social welfare grants, the ANC delegates are likely electing not only the ANC leadership but also that of the country, come 2019. For, hope springs eternal and the hope of a better life will probably (and most, unfortunately) keep the majority of South Africans voting for the ANC, albeit in fewer numbers.