ANC's 'new dawn' embraces all of SA's rainbow colours

11 February 2019 - 09:58
By Hlengiwe Mkhize
Image: Halden Krog © The Times

New and old politicians have no choice but to contend with the fact that gone are the days where people in power could make pronouncements, or even do anything publicly at all - without the immediate reaction and blow-back from the body politic.

Welcome to an era where voices are going to be heard. Do strap in and become comfortable with a hand-held device being a more powerful tool than a day off work to join an organised physical march.

This new reality means politicians should have three-dimensional thinking and response process at any and every moment. This quality needs to kick in when - for instance - taking pictures with a downtrodden elderly person. Attention needs to be paid to what the background says about the elderly person and the government you represent.

Political parties now need entire war rooms to handle any imminent situation arising from content that emanates from digital media. And the traffic is particularly high during election time.

Some public assertions may not be correct or fair given our shared internalised trauma.

One such example of narratives that must be challenged is the recent outrage over an ANC election advert that featured an attractive young woman.

The lady's testimony created a stir and was the subject of some colourful opinion pieces.

The crux of the argument seemed to very conveniently downplay the fact that it is indeed the ANC that created a conducive environment for the young lady in question, to be who and what she is at this point in time, both as part of the larger body politic, and indeed in her own lived experience.

Because of the platforms that we all have at our fingertips, and the "social media mob mentality", we are now peer-pressured into forgetting and even questioning that a great many highly influential and successful ground-breakers, artists like Hugh Masekela, Lindiwe Mabuza and many lawyers, doctors, scholars and professionals who identified with the ANC, came to become great because of efforts by the ANC.

As an NEC member of the ANC, I am duty-bound to inform you that the ANC's election manifesto for 2019 has not forgotten anyone. High on the agenda on the ANC's manifesto is the aim to continue to "grow South Africa together". We also need to refine policies that will not only address the plight of young people born and growing in poor communities, but to also help people such as the lady in the ANC advert to attain their goals.

Let's not forget that it is those ANC policies that have given birth to world-class artists, athletes, award-winning journalists and scientists. The ANC has ensured that the atmosphere of free expression on any medium is not only possible but also protected.

In the debates we continue to have, we should also not forget to feature the important gender aspects contained in the ANC manifesto.

There really does exist a "new dawn" in the ANC, and it is for all segments of society.

- Prof Mkhize is an NEC member of the ANC