Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Netshitenzhe: ANC not living up to the values of the struggle

“The fundamental implication of these social dynamics is that the changing class structure within the black community … happens because of opportunities in the political or public sphere,” he wrote in the latest volume of the ANC Today.

Research showed that South Africa’s middle class increased from about 10% of the population in 1994 to around 20% in 2011, Netshitenzhe said.

The largest growth in the middle class had been among blacks, where it had doubled since 1994.

This had implications for the ANC, which has been in power for 18 years, for what Netshitenzhe called the “sins of incumbency”.

He said that while the party spoke of the values and culture of the “struggle”, it was no longer living under the struggle, but in an advanced capitalist society with a small open economy under conditions of globalisation.

The emerging middle class did not have historical assets and had to support large extended families, leading it to take on debt.

“Having dipped their toes into that lifestyle, but with no such historical assets as are available to the white middle and upper strata, some then try to acquire the resources by hook or by crook.”

Middle class
Many blacks gained access to the middle class through leadership positions at local government level, at university student organisations and at trade unions or through the civil service.

“While there is a new crop of young black professionals and entrepreneurs who are rising on the social ladder only due to their skills and acumen and do not require affirmative action, these are still the exception that proves the rule,” he said.

The position of this new middle strata was therefore tenuous, insecure and about survival, Netshitenzhe said.

“The sins of incumbency derive in large measure from this.”

It led to patronage and corruption.

“In pursuit of numbers, a price is attached to a conference delegate’s vote.

“And to paraphrase a lecturer at a recent Gauteng political education workshop, a toxic leadership then begets toxic members, some of whom actually demand financial and other incentives to vote in particular ways.”

Internal issue
Netshitenzhe said the ANC had to consider whether this should be dealt with only as an internal issue, as it could negatively affect infrastructure spending; the delivery of text books; the quality of legislation passed by Parliament and salary demands of the lower middle strata in the public service.

He said the ANC’s discussion document on organisational renewal, to be debated at its policy conference in Midrand next week, offered proposals on dealing with the problems of political incumbency.

These included “a radical shift in the management of leadership contestation so we can dispense with the current pretence that everyone is waiting for October when nominations will start, while people are actually organising factional meetings about slates in the middle of the night”.

He was referring to the party’s national conference in Mangaung in the Free State in December, when new leaders will be elected. The leadership battle officially opens only in October.

“We may need to go even further and state clearly that members who wish to stand for particular positions should declare, get vetted, afforded a platform in the branches and regions to explain their proposed value addition; and get disqualified if they break the rules,” Netshitenzhe suggested.

Netshitenzhe is the executive director of the Mapungubwe Institute of Strategic Reflection. – Sapa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Gillian Jones
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

The convenient myth of an Africa spared from Covid-19

There are few, if any, studies to support Pfizer chief executive’s assertion that the global south would be more vaccine-hesitant than the north

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors

How Alpha Condé overthrew Alpha Condé

Since the coup d’état, Guinea’s head of state has been in the custody of the military officers. But it was the president who was the primary architect of his own downfall
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×