Forgetting God has left ANC intellectually wanting, as the MK logo debacle shows

Complacency is behind the regress that marks the once upstanding liberation movement

Members of MK celebrates outside the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg for Zuma’s MK Party as Electoral Court declares its existence lawful and constitutional.
Members of MK celebrates outside the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg for Zuma’s MK Party as Electoral Court declares its existence lawful and constitutional.

Nobel Prize-winning author and poet Alexander Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974. Wondering how the once mighty USSR could have come to such ruin in the early part of the 20th century, Solzhenitsyn, a wordsmith and man of letters, was at a loss... for words.

He had to rely on the sagacity of Russian elders who, in his view, had the most apt explanation for the "great disasters that had befallen Russia".

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

A wave of atheism and self-destructions was sweeping through Russia at the time, culminating in the "ruinous Russian Revolution" that Solzhenitsyn lamented had "swallowed up some 60-million of our people".

Inside the broad church that is the ANC, there are practicing atheists and Communists galore and "forgetting God" can never be determined as being at the core of the trials and tribulations of the once glorious movement.

Perchance there is another practice that is at the root of the disembowelment of the ANC – self-inflicted as it is. It could be complacency, the malady of the arrogant and the big-headed, a trait that is as ANC as the green, black and gold colours on their mast.

In his poignant lament of the fall of the Mother Russia, Solzhenitsyn invokes the wisdom of compatriot and novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky.

"Dostoevsky warned that great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared."

In the very next line that comes immediately after this one, Solzhenitsyn writes: "That is precisely what has happened."

He could be talking about the ANC today.

In the early years of his presidency, Nelson Mandela was engaged in a bitter legal fight to reclaim ownership of his prison number 46664. Mandela had a fight on his hands to trademark his own "property" so he alone could benefit commercially from it.

It was him in that single cell on Robben Island. That prison number was his and his alone.

Mandela had to seek the protection of the courts to stop long-time confidante and lawyer Ismail Ayob from selling artworks of the likeness of Madiba. The late great statesman accused Ayob of betrayal. The falling out was messy, to put it mildly.

Now, you’d be forgiven to think there’d be institutional memory at Luthuli House to draw from the archives and know what to do with such crisis when the proverbial turd hits the fan. You’d swear the ANC would be ready to fight and not, to paraphrase Dostoevsky, not be caught intellectually unprepared.

But the ANC are proving to be masters at "forgetting God", being complacent. The entitlement that comes with incumbency has gone to the organisation’s collective head. They "liberated" the previously disadvantaged masses of SA, so they take it for granted that "our people" will approve this gratitude by voting them into power election after election. But, alas, the polls have proved this to be an illusion, delusions of grandeur.

Numbers show that the ANC support has dwindled from 62.2% in 1994 to 57.5% in 2019. Pundits predict the May 29 elections are likely to show a performance below 50%.

These great events that are catching the ANC unprepared could have been foreseen, and avoided.

On Sunday June 5 1955, about 3,000 people gathered in Kliptown, Soweto, to adopt the ANC Bible, the Freedom Charter, in what would later be widely known as the "congress of the people". The phrase "congress of the people" is as ANC as the swoosh strike of Nike or the three stripes of Adidas.

The many lawyers inside the ANC could have foreseen the "great events" of Dostoevsky so that they wouldn’t be caught intellectually unprepared.

But in December 2008, after the former ANC strongman Mosiuoa "Terror" Lekota had served divorce papers on the party of Mandela, Luthuli, Sisulu and Tambo, the courts decided his new outfit could call itself the Congress of the People (Cope).

Towards the end of last year, Luthuli House was aware that their erstwhile Number 1, Jacob Zuma, was hard at work setting up a counter political home for the walking wounded, the aggrieved within the ANC ranks.

The party dug their heads into the sand, hoping to call Zuma’s plan a bluff. Now that they have been shaken out of their reverie, they approached the Electoral Court to stop the registration of Zuma’s MK Party. Too late, the court said, throwing the book at the ANC. Your case holds no water, they were chided in court on Tuesday.

MK is as ANC as the colours of its logo.

Now the uMkhonto weSizwe logo is gone. Why? Because the men and women in the ANC have grown haughty and "forgotten God". That is why all this has happened.

Makatile is the publisher of The Sentinel.


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