By Howard Feldman
South Africa in December 2022 feels worse off than December 2017. Although it is fair to acknowledge that significant inroads have been made regarding state capture, it is as important to note that the corruption was the consequence of the organisation itself.
To some extent being thankful for the progress that the ANC has made is like being grateful that the pyromaniac has only burned down the bedroom section of the house. And that although the house has not been rebuilt, at least we have removed the flame thrower and replaced them with a box of matches.
The maniac is still in the living room, trying to ignite the sticks, but we are keeping an eye on him to make sure that he and his friends do as little damage as possible … until they get bored and either leave, or simply die from old age.
On night in December 2017 we were late for dinner, but for once I didn’t care. From the car where we sat, we had sight into the restaurant where our dinner companions were clearly waiting for us to join. My wife was growing restless and suggested that we go inside. I resisted. The radio was on, and they were about to announce that Cyril Ramaphosa would lead the African National Congress. In 2017 South Africa was at a crossroad.
This was important.
Fast forward to December 2022 and there is little chance that we would be late. I would listen to my Spotify playlist rather than the radio and it would be me, not my wife, who would be restless if we were not on time.
Because it feels like it hardly matters who leads the African National Congress.
This is not negative or defeatist. It is simply a reflection of faith in an organisation that has proven to be incapable of self-reflection, incapable of real leadership and of real integrity. They have not managed to rid itself of the pyromaniacs who live amongst them and who remain intent on not only burning the organisation to the ground, but the whole country as well.
Organisations reflect the ethos of the individuals who are part of that collective, meaning that the sum of each person makes up the body of the whole. For that reason, a company I work with will only hire people who are:
Hungry, humble and smart.
What does this mean? “Hungry” is defined as driven and eager to learn; “humble” does not mean self-effacing, but rather that they are willing to acquire knowledge from anyone, that they are open to recognise and acknowledge errors so that they can do better; and “smart” is not only intelligence, but also emotional intelligence. It is the ability to read a room, recognise the needs of others and to understand not only what is being said, but what is not.
As an organization, the ANC is none of the above.
The euphoria that we experienced after the election of Ramaphosa in 2017, was genuine. Finally, it seemed that the ANC had taken stock, recognised the error of its ways and even acknowledged that the country deserved better.
With Stage 6 loadshedding the norm, with a crumbling infrastructure and lackluster economy, with a morally bankrupt foreign policy, the ANC has proven without question that they are no longer relevant to the people of the country.
Which is fantastic news.
Because there are alternatives. Because there are politicians from other parties who believe in the country, who will work together for the sake of the nation. Because the only thing that we don’t have in South Africa is a government who cares. And they are replaceable. And because 2024 is a short 18 months away.
Which is when we will finally get rid not of the matches in their hands, but also remove the pyromaniacs who still hold them.