20 Questions the ANC must answer during their December Elective Conference (so that we can return to 2018 upbeat).
By Steuart Pennington
I was interested to read an article by Yacoob Abba Omar, head of strategy and communications at the Banking Association South Africa where he poses 12 questions the ANC needs to answer. I agree with most of them – and have added 8 of my own (see below).
He writes, “As South Africa hurtles towards the end of the year, we are holding our collective breath ahead of the ANC elective conference.
“After December” or “let’s see what happens at the conference” are the kinds of things heard not only in our households, in Parliament or in boardrooms, but also on the airwaves and among commuters.
This is testimony to the centrality of the ANC in society. At the same time, it expresses a hope — ANC member or not — that this venerable organisation will get its act together and clear up its internal mess. Or in ANC parlance, “self-correct”.
I am probably among the growing number who feel that, notwithstanding who assumes the mantle of leadership, given the problems the nation, government and the country face, it actually is not going to make a huge difference who takes over from President Jacob Zuma.
It is in the interest of all South Africans that the ANC holds a successful conference in December.”
A successful conference is not negotiable — our collective psyche is in serious need of a lift.
I have therefore developed a checklist of 12 questions — the Clean Dozen, compared with the film The Dirty Dozen that my generation watched.
On the basis that we are all committed to a nonracial, democratic South Africa, we should ask of our candidates:
- What are you going to do to restore broad-based respect for democratic values in South Africa? The 2016 Afrobarometer Survey shows that support for democracy among our citizens is down to 64%, whereas it had reached a high of 72% in 2011.
- What are you doing to deepen nonracialism? We are seeing more and more social and psychological Oranias.
- What are you doing to promote social cohesion? Overcoming the racial and ethnic divides will have to occur in the context of rising inequality and poverty.
- What are you going to do about the state of school education? Recent Stats SA figures show that almost half of 25- to 35-year-olds have lower than a matric certificate, 33% hold a matric certificate and about a fifth have a post-secondary school education.
- What are you going to do about tertiary education? Pali Lehohla, the outgoing statistician general, pointed out that this generation is less equipped than their parents.
- What are you going to do about unemployment? The country’s unemployment rate is worryingly high at anything between 27% and 37%, and the 15-to-35 age group unemployment figure is almost 70%.
- What are you going to do to engage with civil society? Constant ANC-led attacks on civil society, the drying up of sources of funding as well as the migration by activists into state structures denuded NGOs of vital resources.
- What are you going to do about the increasing levels of violent protests? In the period 2004 to 2008 there were, on average, 21 violent protests a year. That has increased to 164 a year between 2014 and 2016.
- What are you going to do about addressing patriarchy in society, and especially gender-based violence? The 2016 demographic and health survey of Stats SA shows that 17% of women aged 18 to 24 had experienced violence from a partner and a similar percentage for women 65 years old and older.
- What are you going to do about the rising prevalence of HIV and Aids? Research shows that women in the 15-to-24 age group are eight times more likely to be HIV positive than their male counterparts.
- What are you going to do about crime? Although there has been a downward trend in some types of crime, we cannot be proud of the fact that an estimated total of 1.5-million crime incidents were experienced by approximately 1.2-million households in 2016 and 2017.
- To complete the Clean Dozen, the 12th question — the most fundamental question — is: What are you going to do about economic growth?
I would add eight more:
- What are you going to do to engage with the Business Community? Trust between the social partners is at an all time low. Successful nations demonstrate high levels of collaboration.
- What are you going to do about state capture, corruption and cronyism? It starts at the top.
- What are you going to do regarding our declining global competitiveness, we fell from 47th to 61st this year, our lowest ranking out of 140 nations ever?
- What are you going to do about the incompetence of the State and its ability to deliver services to our nation?
- What are you going to do about the shambles in our S.O.E’s? Is private sector engagement the way forward?
- What specifically are you going to do to attract international investment via policy certainty in mining, in energy, in manufacturing, in tourism, in agriculture and in infrastructure development?
- What are you going to do about food security, protecting our farmers, land reform and a transparent land audit?
- Lastly, what are you going to in respect of auditing Ministerial performance with demonstrable, transparent, punitive measures for non-performers?
Omar continues, “South Africa is rapidly becoming an investment pariah in the eyes of domestic and foreign investors. The South African public is pessimistic when investors look at the rampant corruption. With ANC factional fighting breaking out not only in its conferences but also in the legislature, the executive as well as in the economy, and security agencies seemingly impotent to restore law and order, we cannot expect anything different from those responsible for investing their own or other people’s money.
There is little room for point scoring. We all need to urge the ANC conference to be held in the best manner possible so that the entire country can do what it does best: unite as a nation and put all our energies into solving the most burning challenges of the day.”
So, answer the questions please!