Two political parties, different countries- same challenges

By Lovemore Ranga Mataire

Harare – A closer analysis of the just ended 5th ANC policy conference shows that the party has so much in common with Zimbabwe’s governing party Zanu-PF. Both are former liberation movements that assumed power at the onset of freedom and independence from colonial domination.

Both political entities have within their DNA huge doses of foundational influences from the former Union of Soviets Socialist Republic (now Russia), China and to a degree Cuba.

However, while the two parties enjoy so much historical relational convergence, they seem to have followed different paths post-liberation.

Of course, this is largely due to the internal dynamics existing in Zimbabwe and South Africa but also to a larger extent partly because one (Zanu-PF) appears monolithic in its structure of membership while the other is a mixed bag of alliance partners.

There are pros and cons in the manner in which ANC and Zanu-PF are structured. It seems both countries have thus far managed to remain in power largely because of the historical advantage of being the parties of liberation but there comes a time in the life of a living entity when the modus operandi becomes incompatible with prevailing dynamics.

This is the hard truth Zanu-PF faced in its post-independence trajectory when it was confronted by an impatient electorate clamouring for a speedy fulfillment of liberation grievances particularly on land and bringing the majority into mainstream economic activity.

Faced with a restless electorate recuperating from the brutal rigors of Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) introduced in 1990 and an indifferent white populace hanging on to ill-gotten privileges coupled with Britain’s (former colonial power) reneging on its pledge to fund the land reform programme, the ruling Zanu-PF literally found itself in a tight corner. It was at that time that the party decided to go it alone and introduced sweeping reforms regarded by detractors as dangerously populist while supporters lauded them as enduring fundamental reforms whose time had come.

While the positive effects of the sweeping reforms are gradually taking root in the national economy, there is no denying the fact that Zimbabwe stands as probably the only country in Africa making headways in making its nationals become proud owners of their own country’s resources. And this may also explain why it is the only country on the continent still under Western economic sanctions.

Twenty- two years after Freedom Day, the governing ANC party in South Africa is faced with a similar predicament. Calls for the ANC to deliver on its Freedom Charter are growing louder by day.

The Freedom Charter was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance consisting of the ANC, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress.

Officially adopted on June 26, 1955 at a Congress of the People in Klipton, the charter’s main precepts were that the people shall govern, all national groups shall have equal rights, the people shall share in the country’s wealth and the land shall be shared among those who work it.

While the South Africa government has done a lot in facilitating the entrance of black entrepreneurs into the mainstream economy, the majority of black citizens still feel marginalized and remain mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. Yes, the people are governing but the land and the wealth is still in the hands of a minority.

Nowhere was the desperate zeal to deal with residual disparities of apartheid more pronounced than the party’s recent Fifth Policy National Conference held in Johannesburg from 30- 5 July.

A number of issues were discussed including communications, social transformation, education, governance, international relations, organisational renewal and peace and stability. As expected the need for radical economic/social transformation particularly on white monopoly capital and the land questions dominated discussions.

Just as Zanu-PF, the ANC has realised the duplicitous, cankerous and uncooperative character of whites in equitably opening spaces for the sharing of wealth with the black majority. Although opinion remains divided on whether to call it white monopoly capital or just monopoly capital, there is no debate about the need to correct the historical inequities. Nine out of 11 commissions said the phenomenon of monopoly capital is a global one but the overall agreement that none can run away from the reality of white dominance in the economy in the context of assets, income and professions. Again like Zanu-PF, time and patience is running out as thousands of landless South Africans clamour for land.

The willing buyer willing seller policy which was an initial model for Zimbabwe has not made any significant headways and this explains why the ANC is now calling for the expropriation of land without compensation.

But there is a catch.

President Zuma believes the ANC can find “radical solutions” to redistribute land to black people while remaining within the framework of the Constitution. Addressing thousands of delegates at the ANC policy conference, Zuma expressed dismay at the pace of land restoration and redistribution which he said remains a sore point for millions of South Africans and that the solution was to appropriate land without compensation. This is the same route taken by Zanu-PF when it realised that the willing-buyer willing-seller was unworkable.

It does not end there. One is tempted to conclude that somehow someone within the ANC has taken the Zanu-PF template especially when it comes to dealing with factionalism.

As he closed the policy conference, President Zuma recommended two deputy presidents for the party to deal with factionalism. He told delegates that if need be he was prepared to go from province to province to address branches on the need to have two deputies.

“But you can have whatever formula that you want to have, the fact of the matter is, this a remedy to kill factions in the ANC,” President Zuma said.

President Zuma was reiterating his support for a recommendation by the ANC in KZN for all factions in the party contesting positions to be allowed to serve in the top leadership of the orgnisation as a panacea to end factionalism.

“Let us not get rid of one who did not win, let us need the one who became number two or who did not win to be a deputy of the one who won.”

The President conceded that there was a need to change the constitution before the changes are implemented. And on white monopoly capital, Zuma said it remains technically correct in the context of the South African political economy to talk of white monopoly capital.

It is not hard to see that there is a lot of convergence in vision and policy between the ANC and Zanu-PF. While some within the ANC are hesitant to effect radical changes given their dalliance with white capital monopoly, it is not fatuous to predict wholesale changes in the offing similar to the indigenisation policies operational in Zimbabwe.

July 2017
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