It has been a decade of decline and ignominy for the ANC. The gap between the ideals of the party and what it has become has never been wider.
The qualitative difference between leaders of the past and the leadership available to the party today has become sharper than the contrast between night and day.
But the bottom still beckons seductively to an ANC that is governed by the base and amoral political instincts of members and leaders who belong to cults that worship the power of greed and derive power from drinking opponents’ blood.
The ANC has not hit the bottom yet. The day the bottom comes, it will be more spectacular than the bloody scenes at the Eastern Cape provincial conference at the weekend. To paraphrase a question about President Jacob Zuma that someone asked me at the national congress of the South African Communist Party two months ago: “Why do some leaders of the ANC hate the ANC, the governing party, so much?”
As I argued in a column a few weeks ago, there is an askari element that will not rest until it has accomplished the mission of destroying the ANC from within and by forging alliances with external forces that have always been hostile to the idea of a society that, in terms of race, economic, social and other relations, will be the antithesis of apartheid society.
In this respect, the internecine battles in the ANC can be characterised in many ways.
The two I wish to isolate, are: First, the political adventurism of the misguided who have been duped by corrupt factionalists into believing that they are part of an agenda for radical and revolutionary change, and, second, the conservatives who are committed to the retention of apartheid economic relations, who must protect their stake in the current economic order and have succeeded in fooling too many among us into thinking they are the good guys.
However, if we are serious about getting closer to the truth, we must go to the ANC in exile and the underground to find part of the answer. Nostalgia will not suffice because, like its cousins, selective memory and morality, it is a form of selective perception and, therefore, a form of false consciousness. The ANC of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Charlotte Maxeke and Dorothy Nyembe is gone and shall never be again, and maybe that is a good thing since what is needed is a new ANC.
What is needed is an ANC that is a qualitative improvement on both the ANC of today and yesterday.
Nostalgia is a problem because it tends to gloss over the fact that some of the corruption we see today is a continuation of what was obtained before 1994.
It is a function of a political culture of exile and underground politics of struggle, which, itself, was a combination of the noble and ignoble.
The ignoble has outlived the noble and that is why the ANC is inexorably hurtling towards implosion.
The current situation is, therefore, a product of the continuity of the ignoble. It is also a function of the demonic dance between the enemy within and the enemy outside the ANC, with too many in the leadership and membership of the party playing the role of chief enemy to the ANC, SA and its people.
Then there is the role played by tricksters and con artists in designer sheepskin, beneath which lies the predatory instincts of political wolves and the parasitic tendencies of scavengers.
The battle between the enemy within and the predatory scavengers will reduce the ANC to a carcass, and history will devour the remains.