Wrong to ignore implications of ANC’s revolutionary ideology – Business Day, 19 October 2015

ONE of the significant statements made by President Jacob Zuma at the fourth national general council of the African National Congress (ANC) in Midrand recently seems to have been largely ignored by the print media.

By John Kane-Berman 

ONE of the significant statements made by President Jacob Zuma at the fourth national general council of the African National Congress (ANC) in Midrand recently seems to have been largely ignored by the print media.

This was that the ANC and the "vanguard" South African Communist Party (SACP) were partners facing in the "same direction" towards a "socialist revolution" and a "communist society". Consistent with this statement was the council’s adoption of a declaration reaffirming the party’s commitment to a national democratic revolution. Most of the media have long pooh-poohed the national democratic revolution, so it is not surprising Zuma’s statement elicited neither news reports nor comment.

Those such as this columnist and the South African Institute of Race Relations, who have long sought to draw attention to the ANC’s revolutionary ideology, are accused of seeing "reds under the bed" — even though members of the SACP hold key positions in the Cabinet, the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. The dominant narrative among political commentators is that the SACP has been "co-opted" by the ANC.

The possibility that such commentators might have got things back to front does not occur to them. Indeed, for anyone to admit that the ANC might be committed to anything other than liberty and democracy is for many commentators, businessmen and diplomats an intellectual bridge too far.

It entails contemplating a rather frightening scenario, hence the pervasive denial.

When Zuma blames the country’s ills on colonialism, he encounters ridicule. No doubt he is partly looking for a scapegoat.

But he is also enunciating revolutionary analysis dating back to Vladimir Lenin and articulated in the ideology of the national democratic revolution first adopted by the ANC in 1969 and regularly reaffirmed since then.

No doubt many will pooh-pooh Zuma’s confirmation that the ANC and the SACP have a common objective. They will retort that it is rhetoric and that the ANC’s real commitment is to the National Development Plan.

In so doing, they will be ignoring the growing spate of intrusive legislation designed to weaken the private sector and empower the state.

They will also be overlooking the political significance of the increasing disdain the ANC shows for the rule of law.

They will further be downplaying the importance of the ANC’s growing hostility to the Western liberal democracies and its embrace of communist China.

Many commentators claim they are "baffled" by some of what the ANC says and does.

If one operates on the assumption that the ANC is essentially a democratic party committed to the values of the South African Constitution, that sort of bafflement is understandable.

But if one recognises that the ANC’s overriding loyalty is not to the Constitution but to bringing about the national democratic revolution in alliance with the SACP, then there is no need for anyone to be "baffled" any longer.

Zuma and his colleagues will not be the first South African politicians to embrace a seemingly fanciful objective. Many years ago, a National Party politician predicted that the tide of black urbanisation would be reversed by 1978.

He was the target of many a cartoon. But while everyone was laughing at him, the National Party carried out at least 2-million forced removals and countless millions of pass arrests. The policy eventually failed and was abandoned, but not before it had inflicted untold damage upon this country, its economy and its people.

Perhaps if more people took the revolutionary objectives of Zuma and his party seriously enough to challenge them, we might avoid another political, economic and human disaster.

• Kane-Berman is a consultant at the South African Institute of Race Relations

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