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South Africa: The ruling ANC is not aligned with the constitution, says Kgalema Motlanthe

By Xolisa Phillip, in Johannesburg
Posted on Monday, 19 July 2021 11:47

South Africa's Kgalema Motlanthe in Ottawa, Canada on 27 November 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) - the oldest liberation movement on the continent - is operating as though it has no constitution, says former president Kgalema Motlanthe. The country is in crisis following more than a week of mass rioting in two populous provinces following the imprisonment of former leader Jacob Zuma.

Motlanthe served as head of state between 2008 and 2009, the period that followed Jacob Zuma’s rise to power as ANC boss in 2007 and Thabo Mbeki’s recall from the highest office in the country.

Following the 2009 general election, when Zuma became state president, Motlanthe served as deputy president until 2014. Motlanthe is also the erstwhile general secretary of the ANC, a role in which he served for two terms until December 2007.

The former president made the observation about the ANC’s constitution during the Indlulamithi Scenarios 2030 project briefing held late on Thursday 15 July , where he delivered the keynote address and engaged with attendees.

The country needs saving from the ravages of an escalating pandemic, a buckling education system, joblessness, famine, violent tension and the corrosion of unity.

The Indlulamithi initiative charts South Africa’s socioeconomic trajectory using, among others, economic modelling, to forecast what the country wants to achieve by 2030. Its steering committee includes Somadoda Fikeni, a prominent political analyst and Andile Sangqu, the former executive head for Anglo American in South Africa.

The ANC operates as though it’s got no constitution,” said Motlanthe, adding that “to make matters worse, the ANC constitution is not aligned to the constitution of the republic in a very clear, explicit way.”

“In fact, the only part where any of the arms of the state are mentioned [in the ANC constitution] is caucus. That, you know, in the legislatures or parliament, you will have a caucus – and that’s about it,” said Motlanthe. “First, the constitution of all political parties ought to be aligned to the constitution of the republic, so that the constitution of the republic is given its place of eminence in our polity. Otherwise … let me stop there.”

South Africa’s post-apartheid democratic architecture is the result of a negotiated settlement. The country’s final constitution, the product of extensive negotiations, was approved in 1996 and effected in 1997.

Motlanthe made the remarks against the backdrop of social upheaval and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, where acts of widespread looting, with undercurrents of economic sabotage, were witnessed this week.

Dialogue for democracy

He opined that “the time for dialogue has never been more pressing in South Africa’s democracy than it is now.”

“As we examine the Indlulamithi Scenarios and planning models, we gather again to deliberate on the research, data and interpretations of science to understand what needs to be done to save South Africa from injustices of the past,” Motlanthe said adding that South Africa suffers from injustices of the present and injustices such as poverty.

According to Motlanthe, the country needs “saving from the ravages of an escalating pandemic. Saving the youth from a buckling education system and joblessness. Saving hungry families from famine. Saving businesses from collapse. Saving the nation from violent tension. Saving us all from the corrosion of unity.”

“These are just some of the injustices that require our fullest attention and dedicated dialogue,” said the former president.

On his part, Fikeni noted that, historically, deep crises have been used as an opportunity to reflect and change course in many countries while Sangqu concurred saying: “The time for social dialogue and social compacting is upon us. We all have a responsibility to defend and protect our democracy.”

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