ANC not arrogant, it’s just losing its marbles


Following the African National Congress’ (ANC) decision to put forward the nomination of Brian Molefe as Member of Parliament, some can be forgiven for concluding that the governing party has officially lost its marbles.

The behaviour of the ANC and the decisions it has taken during the Jacob Zuma administration have been astonishing, but for a protracted period they could be dismissed as sheer arrogance from one of the biggest liberation movements in the world.

At the time when most of these decisions were made, the ANC enjoyed 62 percent of the vote at both national and municipal level – there was no need to worry about missteps.

Those days are over.

The public image of the ANC is worse than it has ever been, and that is thanks in part to the reported links between the ANC and the now infamous Gupta family.

Let us just forget about the principle of the matter for a moment, although that is important, and just focus on the practicalities involved here.

The ANC thinks a man who was implicated in a State of Capture Report (which has everything to do with the Gupta family), who subsequently resigned from his position because of it, is suitable for a seat in the National Assembly.

That is absolute lunacy.

No reasonable man or men would make such a misguided choice in the current political climate. When the judgement of a political party is this flawed, one cannot help but call the current electoral system into question yet again.

While it is true that South African voters have given the political parties they support the mandate to choose the people they believe to be suitable MP candidates, they ultimately had no control over this decision.

It is also true that any given electoral system does not guarantee accountability, but you have got to at least encourage it.

What has transpired during the past week demonstrates the complete lack of accountability from the ANC, which has taken a unilateral decision to remove one MP and replace him with another. That is too much power.

Sure, if this were a constituency-based electoral system, the ANC would probably have regained that seat in the National Assembly anyway but the constituents themselves deserve an opportunity to at least have a direct say in the candidate that will represent them.

Politics is a game of perception and the perception is that under the current circumstances South African voters are unable to hold individual representatives accountable, and that they don’t have a significant enough say in which individuals should represent them.

At a time when the ANC is fast running out of electoral cards to play, it would perhaps be prudent for the party to at least consider electoral reform and be decisive about it.

There must be no ‘but’ or ‘maybe’ about it. If it is going to adopt a constituency approach, it must be a constituency approach.