ANC NEC member and principal of the party’s political school, David Masondo, came out swinging during a memorial lecture last weekend in Makhado, Limpopo, warning that internal leadership contests were destructive because leadership positions have become a means to accumulate wealth.
Masondo said when the ANC’s forbears, like OR Tambo, handed over the leadership of the party to its members, they stated that they should be the first to defend the people and the last to seek rewards.
And yet today, many ANC leaders could not imagine living and surviving without political leadership roles, Masondo said during the event hosted by the ANC Youth League’s Dzata branch.
“The ANC-led movement is riven with destructive factionalism, tribalism, regionalism, clientelism, rank consciousness, elitism, demagoguery and moneyocracy,” he added.
These tendencies, he said, continued to erode the ANC’s values and principles. They crippled the party’s ability to carry out its historical mission of creating a better life for all.
“This seems to have been one of the reasons leading to a loss of trust by the people and electoral losses, the latest being the 2021 local elections, during which the party lost key metros,” he said.
In the upcoming general elections next year, pundits are already predicting that the ANC could, for the first time, drop below 50% voter support at central government level, creating a possibility for the first national coalition government.
Masondo said the ANC could not do what many post-colonial countries did, including silencing intellectuals. He said this emerging political culture was alien to the party and ought to be nipped in the bud.
He said the culture would further alienate the ANC from the middle strata, which is critical for building a united and democratic South Africa as Tambo envisioned.
He said the ANC could only regain its lost plot if it continued to defend and maintain the culture of fearless discussions within the movement and society.
“Unity is not conformity or uniformity. Unity is also about guaranteeing democratic dissent and creating possibilities for minority voices to become new majorities. These conditions include the political culture of fearless discussions within the movement and in society.”
He said very few in the ANC leadership took criticism well.
“Many in the current ANC leadership prefer demagoguery and hierarchical rank over reasoning and logic in political discussions and decision-making.”