ANC stuck with fixing crisis of its own making by looting the state

Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to clean up his party, the stark reality is a broken state and a rotten party, the writer says.
Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to clean up his party, the stark reality is a broken state and a rotten party, the writer says.
Image: Esa Alexander

With voting done and dusted, it's time to face that regardless of who gets the majority in parliament and who sits at the Union Buildings, SA is a country in crisis. All is not well, that is clear.

But the ease with which various party leaders made promises and offered justifications for the "lost years", in the case of the ANC, one could not be blamed for thinking things are not as bad as they seem.

There is a lot of work to do repairing the damage to the economy, rebuilding state capacity and integrity, and restoring hope in a more equal and just society.

This election has focused on land, jobs, the crisis at state-owned enterprises, Eskom in particular, and the economy. Pronouncements on these issues made for good sound bites but glossed over the complexity of the issues that have created the crisis of a stagnant economy, rising cost of living, joblessness and deepening inequality.

At the ANC's Siyanqoba rally, president Cyril Ramaphosa promised to fix the economy and state institutions to place the country back on the trajectory to prosperity and development.

According to polls done in the lead-up to the general elections the ANC is poised to get a majority but it is likely to be its lowest yet.

Whereas in the preceding decade, the party could rely on almost unquestioning support from the voting age population, things have changed. The liberation dividend still counts, but not for as much as it did.

Nelson Mandela's legacy still counts but young people, who are the majority, are critically engaging what the transition delivered and failed to deliver and the reality of a new SA still defined by exclusion.

In particular, the education system has failed the youth. It has ensured that inequality will be a legacy many more generations will have to grapple with.

Although it inherited a deeply divided society, the ANC has had 25 years to shift the generational impact of apartheid policies on social mobility of the disadvantaged. It has not been enough for the majority of South Africans to truly say they are living the change they were promised.

The preceding decade was squandered. Throwing aside its own lofty values and forgetting its mission, that of delivering a better life for all, the ANC under Jacob Zuma presided over the most comprehensive looting of the state and its hollowing out, the extent of which is yet to fully be uncovered.

In reality, the ANC in power at national, provincial and local government level is a collection of fiefdoms headed by individuals who use access to state resources to oil their patronage networks; serving their own interests rather than those of society.

Despite Ramaphosa's efforts to clean up his party, the stark reality is a broken state and a rotten party.

With a diminished majority, the ANC will have limited room to manoeuvre in its attempt to fix a crisis of the ANC'S own making.

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