Johannesburg – In the report of the ANC’s 54th elective conference in 2017, the governing party noted that chief among the challenges plaguing the organisation was what they called “social distance”.
It was, of course, years before the outbreak of Covid-19, which has since introduced the term social distancing to our lexicon.
In this regard, social distance meant that the ANC had observed that there was a perception among people that its leaders were becoming a political elite removed from their communities.
According to the report, the ANC no longer reflected the concerns and issues of the masses on the ground.
The party resolved that its leaders and public representatives should spend at least two days a week on grassroots and branch work in communities.
The ANC’s tripartite alliance partners, the SACP and Cosatu, have raised social distance as one of the challenges crippling the governing party.
The matter of social distance comes to mind when one reflects on the senseless decision of the ANC in Mpumalanga to reinstate a senior member of the party facing charges of raping his kids.
When the decision solicited widespread outrage, ANC Mpumalanga leaders shamelessly defended the move.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte slammed the decision, rightfully so, saying it was insensitive to bring the leader back to the provincial executive committee on the eve of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Deputy President David Mabuza was asked about the matter in the National Assembly. He had to concede that concerns about the reinstatement were “wellplaced”. As pressure mounted, the ANC in Mpumalanga rescinded its decision to readmit the rape-accused member to its executive committee.
There was not supposed to be pressured to drop the decision. It did not have to take Duarte to criticise the move. MPs did not have to corner Mabuza on the issue.
The reinstatement was not supposed to happen in the first place. A provincial ANC structure in tune with its communities on the ground would not have taken such a sad decision.
An ANC true to its resolutions and decisions would not have done something like this. The party made it clear that those criminally charged should step aside to clear their names.
While the country is gripped by the pandemic of gender-based violence and child abuse, the ANC leaders in Mpumalanga reminded us that they are not only insensitive to the struggles faced by women and children – but they are also detached from communities and realities on the ground.
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