Humanitas Afrika congratulates the African National Congress (ANC) for a successful national conference

African Update – 03/01/13

Something good always comes out of South Africa in the midst of adversity. It is one country in which the propitious is cousin to the perilous, the miraculous conjoins the mundane and hope almost always makes nonsense of the hopeless. It is a self-redeeming country and the ANC encapsulates it all. There could not be a more eloquent testimonial than the recent 53rd national conference in December 2012.

The clouds that started to gather ahead of the Mangaung conference ravened ominously. Marikana was still simmering with disturbing memories in the background. The hilly mining town had suddenly become a household name for all the wrong reasons. About 34 to 46 miners were gunned down by police officers sent to keep the peace in the wake of demonstrations for better terms of service. Marikana was a tragedy and South Africa remained aghast even as the ANC went into conference.

Then there was Mandela, the saintly old Madiba was poorly and taken into hospital. It dominated news throughout the country and for good reasons too. Mandela is a living saint and any sign of the sun going down evokes panic in the rainbow nation and far beyond. The ANC and the whole country held their breath and Africa prayed with them.

Meanwhile, the ANC was going into this conference with a somewhat fractious gulf of polar differences. It was a menacing threat to the unity the conference sought to represent as "Anyone but Zuma" became the slogan of the “Forces of Change”. They wanted Jacob Zuma out of the ANC presidency and by extension the leadership of the country.  Kgalema Motlanthe, Zuma’s deputy, was for them “the future of the ANC and the future of South Africa".

Such was the ominous build up to the Conference it gave away very little that the conference could be anything but successful. Was Zuma up against a Brutus? Would the 53rd conference find appropriate response to the economic contradictions that culminated in Marikana? Would a post-conference ANC retain the resolute unity that helped it weather the apartheid storm? There were more questions than answers.

When the conference finally took place it was held under the theme "Unity in action towards socio-economic freedom". This was the clearest signal of an ANC unwavered by detractions. It was a loud message of intent; the focus and the sense of purpose and direction was unequivocal. The ANC was not unaware that political freedom per se was meaningless unless it translated into socio-economic freedoms for the mass of South Africans. The ANC would stay the cause and soldier on united.

By the time the conference was over the clouds had cleared and the skies were blue. Zuma was returned to duty with a decisive mandate. Of the 3,977 votes cast he won 2,986. For his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, the former ANC Secretary General, was back to the ranks. The ANC legend is expected to bring on board rich and contemporary experience from entrepreneurship in the private sector and the trust and integrity earned in yesteryears from amongst the working class as founder of the National Union of Mineworkers.

The ANC is a 100 years old institution and the resilience of Africa’s oldest liberation movement has never been in doubt. Yet, for the continent’s biggest economy to yield appreciable dividends for the people across board the ANC would have to be seen to be doing more to lift the grassroots out of economic doldrums. This is probably where the combined leadership of Zuma and Ramaphosa, revolutionary fervour and economic pragmatism, seem the right ticket at the right time to turn things around in the right place.

For now, the pre-conference sceptics are lost for words and everyone can smell the roses. It is time to build on the momentum of this forward match, but it is also the moment to reflect on those causal factors that motivated the “Forces of Change” within the ANC family. The entire African nation is expectant and we trust leadership can deliver!

Humanitas Afrika wishes Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa and the rank and file of the ANC the blessings they need to progress South Africa and the rest of the continent further.

Afrikatu Kofi Nkrumah

President of Humanitas Afrika, Czech Republic

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