Last weekend, ANC presidential hopeful, Lindiwe Sisulu, stated that amnesty for President Jacob Zuma was an option, as it would help unite the ANC. This is a striking example of just how deeply entrenched and acceptable is the notion of state capture in the ANC mindset. For Sisulu to freely admit to ANC control over SA’s prosecution process and to show open willingness to sacrifice our constitutional principles of equality before the law and separation of powers in order to protect the ANC shows how advanced is their conflation of party and state.
That the ANC has failed to speak out against Edgar Lungu’s current efforts to repress democracy in Zambia (most recently by declaring a state of emergency on feeble pretexts and by imprisoning opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema on equally spurious grounds) shows how “normal” state capture is for the ANC.
This is hardly surprising since the ANC’s state capture project is two decades old. It was birthed at their Mafikeng Conference in 1997, when they formally adopted the policy of cadre deployment, in order to gain control of all “levers of power” in SA. This was ostensibly to deliver to “the people”, but of course some people are more equal than others, as we see by Sisulu’s suggestion of amnesty for Zuma.
Cadre deployment and state capture are two sides of the same coin. You capture a state by deploying loyal cadres. Even back in 1997, cadre deployment was an open declaration of war on democracy. Granted, Thabo Mbeki, the father of ANC state capture, was motivated by total domination rather than private wealth accumulation. But the mission was to entrench total control over all aspects of the state, which is clearly a subversion of democracy. It took power out of the hands of the people and destroyed the checks and balances.
It is one thing to deploy cadres in politically elected positions. Quite another to deploy them to other organs of state, including media, armed forces, judiciary, private sector, SOE’s, civil service, electoral commission, regulatory bodies and chapter 9 institutions, as the ANC has sought to do. The purpose: to transfer wealth from one elite to another. Rather than growing for everyone the pot of gold inherited by the rainbow nation, the ANC soon set about acquiring it for themselves through state capture.
And this has played out at all levels – national, provincial and local. A small minority creates an exclusive universe in local areas, excluding the majority from the fruits of democracy. Mayor Mashaba has uncovered billions that were stolen in Johannesburg under the previous ANC local government. The more money to be made, the greater the efforts at state capture. That’s why our state-owned enterprises have been the prime targets.
Cadre deployment and state capture are paternalistic, anti-democratic, unconstitutional and illegal. No doubt, Mbeki’s rationale was along the lines of Squealer’s in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, when Napolean eliminates the public meetings: “No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
This is why he protected Mugabe’s state capture project in Zimbabwe. The fact is, state capture is the standard mode of operation for many liberation movements, in order to consolidate power and secure their commercial interests, and the ANC is no exception. Its National Democratic Revolution manifesto is its blueprint for state capture. The strategy backfired, however, when opportunists came on board.
Cadre deployment was to be the vehicle, and inevitably patronage soon became the fuel, that was to deliver the state into the full control of the ANC. Until the Guptas hijacked it. The ANC had so neatly captured the state that for the Guptas, it was a small matter to stage a hostile takeover. Conveniently for the ANC, the Guptas have become the lightning rod for public fury, now that all has been revealed. But that anger should be directed at the ANC, who paved the way for their success by providing Zuma and a loyal force of cadres already deployed into every aspect and sphere of government.
Over the past twenty years, cadre deployment and state capture have bred a strong culture of loyalty to party rather than to the people of South Africa, a culture which will in all likelihood be on full display come 8 August when ANC MPs vote in the motion of no confidence. That’s why only the people of South Africa can free our country. Only by voting the ANC out of government in 2019 can we restore the democratic and constitutional order, and re-establish the accountability that must be at the heart of our social compact.
South Africa needs a reset. We must move from a nationalist agenda, to promoting the rights of individuals. We must move from a captured state to a capable state in which staff are appointed on merit to serve the public, rather than on political allegiance to serve a party. We must move from a stagnant, elitist economy to a growing, inclusive economy. Redistribution without growth is not even a zero sum game; it’s a recipe for recession, which is where we find ourselves today. That’s why the ANC has failed to give our children a brighter future.
It’s time to move on. South Africa needs to get out of national liberation movement mode. We need to become a globally integrated, modern, constitutional, multi-party democracy with strong, independent institutions and a professional civil service. This is the new beginning we need, and the DA will be at the forefront of this change.