Khaya Dlanga: Reconsider your protest, Mr Kasrils
Rather than ask people to vote for a different party, Ronnie Kasrils should instead be trying to influence change within the ANC, writes Khaya Dlanga.
Ronnie Kasrils wants to teach the ANC a lesson but the question I'm left with is whether he wants to punish the current ANC leadership or whether he truly believes the party has lost its way.
It is true that the ANC has its own leadership challenges, especially surrounding its president. President Jacob Zuma has faced issues regarding the Central African Republic, his Nkandla homestead and the Guptas. Each time, however, he has come out unscathed from within the ANC but certainly bruised in the court of public opinion.
These issues rub off on the rest of the ANC. It is common knowledge that Kasrils is no fan of Zuma but I hope his dislike of the Zuma brand of leadership has not caused him to abandon the party.
In the Business Day newspaper, former minister Pallo Jordan wrote a column on the back of the release of the Nkandla report. He said, "Although (Public Protector Thuli) Madonsela does not suggest President Zuma acted corruptly, he cannot evade moral responsibility for what occurred."
Jordan went on to commend Zuma's commitment to the struggle as he "operated in the principle machinery that smuggled funds earmarked for underground structures into South Africa. There was never a hint that he had misappropriated even a small amount for himself and his family."
Although disappointed in Zuma, Jordan did not suggest that people avoid voting for the ANC. Instead, he demanded that ministers serving in Zuma's Cabinet demonstrate moral courage in confronting the challenges facing the ANC as a direct result of the Nkandla scandal.
The ANC has had its fair share of scandals and real leadership means fixing those challenges. I am not opposed to Kasrils criticising the ANC publicly but I do not agree with his accession that people should not vote for the party. I think more senior ANC leaders need to be more vocal about the direction of the party and force leadership into line – even if they are not listened to.
I do not believe in the school of thought that if you are a member of the ANC you should not be allowed to criticise it publicly. I think that is an old-school, apartheid and exile-era type of politicking. It made sense to do that then: the ANC was underground and its leaders' lives were in constant danger.
Today that idea seems to be a need to protect themselves as opposed to protecting the party. The ANC is a public organisation and its members should criticise it very publicly if need be. Criticism is not the same as being disloyal. In fact, some criticism can be the most loyal thing one can do rather than keep silent when the moral integrity of the organisation is being compromised.
I would have expected uncle Ronnie to have made certain recommendations rather than take his present course of action. For example, encouraging people to become rank and file members of the ANC so they have more of a say on who gets elected into positions and punishing leaders who are found not fit for their positions in conferences. What Kasrils is doing now is asking people to vote for some other party they don't necessarily have faith in or whose policies they don't fully agree with, simply to punish individuals of an organisation he fought for.
I do understand the dilemma he faces. I went through it myself, which is why I wrote the column, Why I criticise the ANC but will vote for it.
I would have expected him to make recommendations when it comes to the manner in which ANC leaders are selected, for example. Is sending delegates to vote for ANC leaders on behalf of the branch they represent the best way, for example? Although it is a democratic process, these delegates can be lobbied and decide to vote for some other candidate a branch was opposed to. Should there be a more direct election by members? That way you punish undeserving leaders as opposed to the party during an election year. I do trust that Mr Kasrils will rethink and consider other ways to make the ANC better.
To be honest, I don’t know of any other party I would want to entrust with running the country other than the ANC. If any other party were to take over from the ANC, it would be inheriting a far better country and would have a far easier job on its hands than the ANC had when it took over.