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Viewpoint by Gwede Mantashe


There is a Chinese proverb that "when a person leaves, the tea gets cold". In the literal sense, this of course does not refer to tea but rather to power. As the proverb goes the "the tea must cool after the guest has left, otherwise it will go bad", meaning that although one freely drinks tea during their tenure in office, the authority to warm it up once they are gone is diminished.

Viewpoint by Viewpoint by Alvin Botes


The Construct ‘African State’ Africa as a continent was of particular interest to the colonisers because of its strategic geographic location and for advancement of religious hegemony. The pre-colonial era had as its anchor in sea-trading routes, and was a calculative factor in improving trade with the Mediterranean, India and the Far East (Osaghae and McGowan, 2002:180).

Viewpoint by Moferefere Lekorotsoana


Observing the long years of exile and conditions under which the ANC pursued the liberation struggle, comrade Oliver Tambo intimated that, we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all we succeeded to foster and defend unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general.




The problem with former leaders "finding their voice"

Comrade Gwede Mantashe is the Secretary General of the ANC

There is a Chinese proverb that "when a person leaves, the tea gets cold". In the literal sense, this of course does not refer to tea but rather to power. As the proverb goes the "the tea must cool after the guest has left, otherwise it will go bad", meaning that although one freely drinks tea during their tenure in office, the authority to warm it up once they are gone is diminished. Such is the rising tendency of former leaders who lambast the governments and parties they were once proud to serve. As a result of the luxury imposed by not having the responsibility of elected leadership, they want to warm their tea by seeking celebrity through criticism of those in office and the policies that they themselves once espoused.

This is not a uniquely South African phenomenon. All over the world, countries such as China and so-called mature democracies of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and even some countries on the continent, battle with the challenge of former leaders intent on positioning themselves within society at the expense of the parties and governments they led. It is said with hindsight everyone becomes a brilliant political pundit. Former leaders of parties and government reveal things to the media that at no point they had raised with their erstwhile or even current parties.

Having suddenly ‘found their voice’ after happily playing status quo politics whilst in power - the ‘former insider’ status of these former leaders lends them an extra appeal in the media. Their insights on party and state affairs are held up as ‘brave’, ‘courageous’ and ‘bold’ - speaking truth to power. The insider status of these critics also unfortunately lends them an air of invincibility: the public is led to believe that their views are gospel - as they have been privy to internal, confidential information. Their bona fides are presented as being for ‘the sake of the country’, and not to protect their "tea" in this case being individual or group interests, or to build a power base or fuel personal ambition. In certain instances it is not inconceivable that the intention some of these former leaders turned professional critics is to set up ‘alternative machinery’ - that offers a ‘alternative’ view to the organisation that they would accuse of supposedly being in decline.

According to them, theirs is the opposite of a rose-tinted view of state affairs; namely that the current state is in hopeless and irreversible decline. What must be read from their statements is that current challenges would never have happened when they or their political patrons were in power - theirs was a Golden Age, and ours is "delusional". This commentary does not unite our people and advance their struggle for socio-economic transformation, it neither consolidates their leadership of society instead it causes rifts within our organisation and undermines its cohesion.

Chairman Mao identified two types of social contradictions - those between ourselves and the enemy and those among the people themselves. The two are totally different in their nature. Because they are different, methods to resolve these contradictions are also different. The story of how Former President Mandela differed with then President Mbeki’s views on the handling of the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa is now a matter of record. Holding very strong views on the matter, Mandela attended and addressed the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress where it is reported the NEC vehemently differed with his views to the point of accusing Mandela of interference.

Neither Comrade Mandela nor the NEC of the ANC regarded internal contradictions as an issue for public record, understanding as we still do, that such would border on populism. Around the world, former leaders are quoted as vocal critics of the policies of the current administration in their countries - sometimes conveniently forgetting their own chequered legacies. Society can only be confused by veterans who operate independently and outside structures that they themselves would have sought to defend and protect during their periods of service. The only way, as the Correct Handling of Contradictions Amongst the People dictates, "to settle controversial issues amongst the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education" and certainly not by grandstanding and coercion. These are some of the lessons that leaders, who were our mentors and who today would be accused of such behaviour, taught some of us. Taking to the street and shouting at your comrades in any roles, we were told, is bad and opportunistic.

Though political pluralism is to be welcomed - they cannot have it both ways. On the one hand you position yourself as an "insider-turned-outsider" but at the same time you want to leverage former relationships for personal, political or other gain. Policies and programmes of government, the functioning and decisions of the organisation are criticized ad infinitum, this is cause of serious concern particularly if one considers that we have never had the pleasure of them expressing their views when they were still in power.

The ANC has a plurality of forums intended to promote internal democracy. Some of these include the recently held NGC, to which current and former NEC members were invited. The NGC went to great lengths acknowledging and confronting the vexing issues facing the movement. One of the greatest strengths of the ANC has always been the movement’s ability to frankly assess its shortcomings and weaknesses. Self-introspection is a key pillar of the ANC’s political life. It is in internal forums such as these that the ANC, in accordance with our dearly held commitment to criticism and self-criticism, raises issues in order correct the challenges facing the movement and society at large. The bona fides of those who choose to remain silent in many such forums, only to find solace on the pages of newspapers should be brought into question. It is because of deep disappointment in some of our own that it is necessary for these tendencies be highlighted. It is out of frustration that we refuse to insulate unbecoming behavior; even within our ranks.

This article was first published in the Business Day, 5 November 2015

Mandela speaks out on his mission in the ANC http://beta.iol.co.za/news/politics/mandela-speaks-out-on-his-mission-in-the-anc-83126
Why China’s "Retired" Generals don’t leave quietly
On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among The People
Viewpoint by Alvin Botes


Comrade Alvin Botes is the Deputy Chairperson of the ANC Northern Cape


Africa’s Decolonisation, Independence and New Forms of Dependence

Our current epoch should be characterised by unfettered belief in building an African Developmental State, with a solid foundation in the virtues of selfless, people-centred and people-driven development.

The Construct ‘African State’ Africa as a continent was of particular interest to the colonisers because of its strategic geographic location and for advancement of religious hegemony. The pre-colonial era had as its anchor in sea-trading routes, and was a calculative factor in improving trade with the Mediterranean, India and the Far East (Osaghae and McGowan, 2002:180). Two streams of religion were competing ideologies during pre-colonial times. These were Christianity (Roman-inspired) and Islam (Ottoman Empire).

The evolution of African statehood has its origins within a particular context, and the Berlin conference (1884) imposed substantive limitations on its formations. Little regard was held for historical, social, economic and political conditions which were present in African states. The Berlin product had the state not as a voluntary social construct, which should have arisen as consensus between the various tribal kings, but as an imposition of those foreign to the African people (Francis Fukuyama, 2012). Africa’s underdevelopment has as a result rampant poverty, human deprivation and low levels of human capital development (Maxi Schoeman, 2002:209).

Osaghae et al. (2002:179) argues that the majority of the forty-eight independent African countries were granted freedom ‘under duress’, in the late 1960s as European imperialism reached its apogee. It is therefore important to celebrate African independence as a set-back for her colonisers, as her emancipation was not as a result of the magnanimity of the imperialist states, but was occasioned by the liberation movements themselves and the shifting of the global balance of forces. It took the fifty American states more than 200 years, since 1776, to have an agenda of national cohesion.

Africa also requires time; it must be given the opportunity to dispense with more than 350 years of enslavement.

The arrangement and demarcation of Africa into manageable, smaller regions has enabled Africa to better organise herself (Van Nieuwkerk and Hofmann, 2013:56). The formation of regional African organisations was premised on enhanced economic integration and security cooperation. They further served as an instrument for African states to “overcome their inherent weaknesses”, thus leveraging their interface within Africa and World Affairs (Khadiagala and Lyons, 2001:4).

In Pursuit of Power

During the colonial epoch, regional conflicts took the express form of the colonial masters managing and or protecting their historical footprints, whilst advancing their future economic potential. The post-colonial dispensation has produced a new African body-politic, wherein state conflicts are extended into regional conflicts the moment they involve neighbouring African countries. The pursuit of national security at all costs has its unintended and antagonistic outcomes, since the accumulation of security measures leads to insecurity for a country’s immediate neighbouring states (Philip Nel, 2002:28).

Before the ‘wave of democratisation in Africa’, overarching reliability for security was assumed by former colonial powers, in particular France.

The American-driven African Crisis Response Initiative was a policy instrument founded on the precepts of African ownership for African crises (Khadiagala et al., 2001:11), and sought to change the responsibility paradigm between and amongst African leadership as well as between African and European leaders. The Cold War served in many ways as an antithesis to colonialism in Africa, and spurred many liberation movements to solidify linkages with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and other Socialist countries. Colonialism of a Special Type Neo-colonialism and the balkanisation of Africa after the Cold War was characterised by a liberated Africa which was, however, under a new stewardship.

In addition the ongoing indoctrinated subserviency to the European way of life had the effect of entrenching colonial dependency (Ruth First, 1970:70). A vestige of Western post-neo colonialism was the instructive note of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to African countries that initial trade privilege allotted under the Lome agreement would be done away with (Southall et al., 2002:199). This insistence by the WTO pre-supposes that the African economy is capable of competing on an equal footing with other, more developed economies, having little regard for the history of political economy within the African states, or the elementary nature of statehood in Africa.

Even as we continue to advocate for Africa’s independence, our continent continues to be intertwined with the West out of necessity, as it provides our primary export markets. McGowan and Nel (2002:5) correctly argue that “interdependence does not exclude asymmetrical relations of dependence.” It does mean that a subservient relationship does exist, wherein the marginalised and underdeveloped has been accorded a pedigree of power, equal to its standing in the broader global body politic.

We, as Africans must ‘contest’ for a development trajectory which is intertwined with the world economy, but one which will be immune from failures of the capitalist market orientations (ANCYL, 2008:60).

An instructive economic challenge which must be overcome is trade liberalisation, and in particular the Doha debate in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on agricultural subsidies. The central topology of trade stagnation is the requirement that Africa remove produce subsidies, whereas the developed economies continue with the allocation of huge subsidies to their own agricultural farmers. A complete new mind-set must be encapsulated by our leaders, to ensure a dramatic shift from exporting commodities and importing ‘high value’ consumables to one where value is added to the production of primary products.

African Solidarity: Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance Optimistic and unrealistic suggestions to constitute one Africa, as a catalyst for its sister states, in the form of a united African Federation (pan-Africanism) produced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. The forebears of African statehood, leaders such as Zambia’s Kaunda, Tanzania’s Nyerere, Ghana’s Nkrumah and Senegal’s Senghor propagated African unity and pan-Africanism. The OAU was formed to realise African unity, and the inaugural summit which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopa, in May 1963 gave serious consideration to it.

However, the 1964 summit laid bare stark African contradictions, when it subscribed to the colonial boundaries, and by implication entrenched the sovereignty of individual African states. The idealism and euphoria of postindependence, from the 1960s, quickly subsided in the 1980s, due to increasing repressive one-party states, the failure of the African-socialism model, military rule and patrimonial states, aptly earning Africa the title as the ‘lost continent’.

The African Union (AU) was established to defend the sovereignty of its Member States; to promote peace and stability; and to advance democracy (Constitutive Act of the African Union, 2000).

Africa’s resolve to enshrine good governance is firmly embedded in initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and its embryonic governance apparatus, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) (Nicky Oppenheimer, 2007). Because of the voluntarily nature of its membership, it is an opportune moment for Africans to respond with African solutions to essentially African problems.

In his book Africa since Independence, Colin Legum categorises some periods in the history of our continent as the Romantic Period, from 1939 to 1970; the Period of Disillusionment, from 1970 to 1985; the Period of Realism, from 1988 onwards, and the Period of Renaissance, which is the period towards the end of the last Century, and the beginning of the 21st Century.(Thabo Mbeki, 2003). Our current epoch should be characterised by unfettered belief in building an African Developmental State, with a solid foundation in the virtues of selfless, people-centred and people-driven development.

The Path to Power: a New World Order

The emergence of China as a potential superpower has reconfigured the global body politic, which presents itself as a shift from uni-polarity to multi-polarity. World capitalism has been firmly engrained in the global community and this is reflected in the dominance of the USA, a peculiarity of the ‘hyper-power’. The emergence of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – has the possibility to change the international economic landscape. Although uni-polarity had decaying features such as unilateralism and injustice, it is not guaranteed that multi-polarity will usher in a better developmental paradigm for Africa (ANCYL, 2008, p.60). Central to any economic interest of a country, a friend or an enemy, is the betterment of their domestic people’s interest. It remains an unanswered question if BRICS’ approach to the development of Africa will be different to that of the rest of the developed world.

The growing danger which confronts Africa is the ‘war on terror’, which has been depicted as a humane campaign against terrorism and, by implication, evil. The so-called ‘collateral damage’, i.e. the intended targeting of civilians in conflicted areas, is inhumane and repugnant. It often increases support for terrorists and their causes, especially when it leads to the dangerous phenomenon of militarism (ANC, 2007:34).

The singular objective of these ‘big-brother’ postures is to serve as an expostulator to African leaders never to underestimate the West’s superiority, a lesson the oil-rich Libya assimilated too late.

The African Dependency Syndrome African’s over-reliance on its former colonisers is a direct result of the neoliberal policies which it embraced in the past, under the stewardship of the Bretton-Woods institutions. Africa faces the dangers of a failure to tackle the scourge of Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality. That should be the central topology which underpins the African Century. But how are we to meet and recognise of the challenges of underdevelopment, and the channelling of ‘development aid’ to Africa?

Bauer (1981) highlighted the misendeavours of such artificial efforts by stating that “the argument that aid is indispensable for development runs into an inescapable dilemma. If the conditions for development other than capital are present, the capital required will either be generated locally or be available commercially from abroad to governments or to businesses. If the required conditions are not present, then aid will be ineffective and wasted.” Increasing development aid has a decaying effect on the African Renaissance, whereby Africa should free herself from economic bondage, through producing a competing economic system and encouraging ‘respect for an honest day’s work’.

Moyo (2009) argues that the receipt of concessional (non-emergency) loans and grants has an identical effect of holding a precious stone: it has minimal incentives for integrity and productivity.

He further highlights that at the epitome of the development aid paradigm in Africa, between 1970 and 1998, the poverty rate rose from 11 percent to a staggering 66 percent. Maxi Schoeman (2002:227) augments this argument by stating that “only strong, cohesive states can withstand the threat of internal decay and collapse”.


A key challenge for African leaders is how to convert the potential which the continent offers into realisable political dividends. To paraphrase Karl Marx, the role of leadership, including African leadership, is to change the world. Inherited colonial boundaries should become links of cooperation and trade, instead of boundaries of exclusivity (Kwame Nkrumah, 1965).

It is correct that “nothing is more precious than independence and freedom” (Ho Chi Minh, 1966) as long as the dialectical and accompanying thesis is that “nothing is more precious than the defeat of poverty and underdevelopment” (Thabo Mbeki, 2007).

The regeneration and development of Africa is entirely dependent on the consciousness of its leaders and the active participation of the masses in socio-economic development and political processes.

1. African National Congress (ANC) (2007). Strategy and Tactics document: Building a National Democratic Society, 52nd ANC National Conference.
2. ANC Youth League (2008). National Conference Discussion Documents: International Perspective, 23rd National Conference of the ANCYL, Mangaung, Free State.
3. B T Bauer (1981). The Third World and Economic Delusion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
4. Eddy Maloka Umrabulo, 1st Quarter, 2013. ‘Celebrating 50 Years of the Formation of the OAU: Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance’.
5. Ruth First (1970). The Barrel of a Gun: Political Power in Africa and the Coup d’Etat. Penguin Press.
6. Fukuyama Francis (2012). The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. London: Profile Books Ltd.
7. Gilbert M Khadiagala and Terrence Lyons (2001). Foreign Policy Making in Africa: An Introduction.
8. Kwame Nkrumah (1965). ‘None of Us Can Stand Alone’. Speech delivered to the OAU, reprinted in the New African magazine, July 2007.
9. Vladimir Lenin (1916). Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Lenin’s Selected Works, Progress Publishers, 1963, Moscow.
10. Marx Karl . Theses on Feuerbach. Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR, 1969.
11. Thabo Mbeki (2007). Umrabulo, ‘Debating Globalisation: The World Economic Forum’.
12. Thabo Mbeki (2003). ‘Elections, Democracy and Governance in Africa’. Opening address by President Mbeki, at the Africa Conference on Elections, Democracy and Governance.
13. J Patrick McGowan and Philip Nel (2002). Power, Wealth and Global Equity: An International Relations Handbook for Africa. Second edition. Cape Town: UCT Press.
14. Ho Chi Minh. (1966). ‘Nothing is More Precious than Independence and Freedom’. Address on the occasion of the anniversary signing of the Geneva Agreements, Vietnam.
15. Dambisa Moyo Dambisa (2009). Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
16. Philip Nel (2002). ‘Theories of International Relations: Power, Wealth and Global Equity’. In McGowan and Nel (op cit).
17. Nicky Oppenheimer (2007). Lecture delivered at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (RUSI), London.
18. Osaghae E. Egosha and Patrick J. McGowan (2002). ‘Africa in the global system, 1600 to decolonisation’. In McGowan J and Nel (op cit).
19. Maxi Schoeman (2002). ‘Africa’s International Relations. In McGowan and Nel (op cit).
20. Roger Southall and Daniel Conway (2002). ‘Africa in the
contemporary world’. In McGowan and Nel (op cit).
21. A Van Nieuwkerk, and K Hofmann, (eds) (2013). Southern African Security Review 2013. Johannesburg: CDSM and Maputo: FES.
Viewpoint by Moferefere Lekorotsoana


Comrade Moferefere Lekorotsoana is the Manager of Communication: Secretary General's Office (ANC)


The Burden of Leadership in Challenging Times

Observing the long years of exile and conditions under which the ANC pursued the liberation struggle, comrade Oliver Tambo intimated that, we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all we succeeded to foster and defend unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general.

A hermeneutical angle to this text should inform how we interact with each other, wrestle with the challenges the ANC faces and navigate the present milieu our organisation finds itself in, with an eye to the future.

In recent times a plethora of voices have emerged in the public domain to highlight the challenges our movement is faced with. Critically, these have been voices of veterans, stalwarts and leaders of the African National Congress.

Interestingly enough some in the media and social commentators have read this as “warnings” to the movement by what they term “former leaders” of the ANC. The reference to former leaders ignores the fact of these individuals - individually and collectively - being leaders and members in the organisation, who participate in its various structures and organs. Arguably, such a reference seeks to suggest a disjuncture between them and those currently in leadership positions of our movement. The subliminal narrative being that the present stewards of our organisations have deviated from the essence and form of the movement itself.

The other response has come from some among us who have either questioned the timing of the critique or proposed that the critique is out of touch with the present reality in both the ANC and its alliance partners. An adverse consequence would be an environment where those who have views to express may be silent and, thereby, our movement lose a crucial characteristic that has guided it over time; that is, self assessment and introspection.

In engaging with this discourse one proposes that the approach we consider should be premised on some of these aspects; self introspection and ability to correct our errors, the essence and form of our movement and the environment in which it finds itself today.

The critique of the organisation by those inside it should, therefore, be viewed as an identification of the errors we have committed and continue to make in pursuit of our historic mission. It is important for each of us to accept, as a starting point, that the challenges highlighted are neither new nor divorced from what our reports to various organisational fora, speeches by leadership at different times and certain policy conclusions that emanate from resolutions and declarations of various conferences have said. Consequently, the critique emerging at the public level now is rather a reinforcement of the message of our organisation itself, about itself. The critical challenge is whether such an approach not only refers to the weaknesses but points to the measures the organisation continues to implement in order to address the situation.

Of the ten reports of the commissions at the October 2015 National General Council one is of particular importance, namely, organisation building and renewal, for the ensuing debates. Its importance derives from two aspects. First, it is one of the only two issues - Balance of Forces being the other - that were discussed separate from the sector-based issues by all the eight commissions. Second, its deliberations sought to confront the identified malaise in the organisation, which is borne testimony to by its conclusions.

Its recommendations, which were agreed to by the entire Council, reflect that the body of our organisation has reached its tether with the gate-keeping on membership, voting slates, factionalism, corruption, erroneous deployment, etc. The decision to affirm and strengthen the role, power and effectiveness of the Integrity Commission is no light matter in this regard. These outcomes are a deliberate attempt by the movement to ensure that we do not continue to tear each other apart either because we have different interests or because we have not been able to see progress in overcoming present challenges. Therefore, with this understanding, it demonstrates our readiness to accept our mistakes and to correct them.

Premised on this, the task of our leadership - in its collective, is to communicate this readiness displayed in the NGC; and to make concerted effort to implement it. It serves no purpose, other than tearing each other apart and further creating disunity in the organisation and among our people, to regurgitate the ills particularly when remedies have been proposed, coupled with the seriousness to put them into effect.

This is at the heart of what leadership is and what organisational change is about. As Ira Chaleff, a lead figure in leadership and coaching proposes, in the face of leadership flaws, too many people assume cynical perspectives, rather than do the hard work of building relationships in which they can have more positive influence. Our leadership, collectively, should transcend this cynicism and invest in making a positive influence in the change that those who are led yearn for. Its ability to think through the difficulties that bedevil the movement, as the NGC has just demonstrated, is the means through which we can realise the change in our movement - what we term organisation-building and renewal. Otherwise we would be faced with what the organisational consultant, William Bridges, articulates in the manner that, nothing undermines organizational change as the failure to think through the losses people face.

Leadership in this instance, at least in the sense of our movement, cannot be conceived of in terms of former and present. Once an individual was elected into the position of leadership they do not cease to be a leader of the organisation. What ceases to be is the fact that they are not serving in a directly elected position of leadership in that moment. This is why our movement enables ex officio participation for of its previous most senior officials in high organs as the National Executive Committee (NEC), and invites those who would have served in these leadership structures before to participate in its various national conferences. This is recognition of their continued leadership of the organisation, while not incumbents, and responsibility to guide it and to find solutions with those who are its official stewards. It is presupposed that their past experience and the fact that they were accorded with such responsibility, continues to place them at the service of others who lead today and the movement at large. It is the trust they earned for having led the organisation before and, therefore, are entrusted with it to the end. This worldview inherently gives meaning to the theory and practice of collective leadership that our movement has preoccupied itself with, which surpasses positions people hold at given periods of history.

If and when we share a common understanding of collective leadership and the burden of responsibility it bears, we would be better-placed to seek a consensus on what and how its form of expression should be in a plural and democratic country. In many ways ours, both the organisation and the country, is a democracy resonant of Western democracies. Most recently some former UK Labour Party MPs and Ministers comment publicly about their current leader - Jeremy Corbyn. Some have gone as far as suggesting Labour will not win the next elections under his leadership.

Instead of sometimes, seemingly, wanting our present reality to resemble our organisation in its previous historical form we should decipher the form that can best represent its essence today. In addition, rather than appear to be pontificating we should all be engendering, in word and deed, the outcomes of the National General Council. By so doing, we will succeed to foster and defend unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general.


ANC Provinces


27 October - 20 November - Plenaries


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