Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
When the wolves fight, the shepherd rejoices. That much is true. But when enmity between the wolves stirs tension among the sheep, a good shepherd has reason to worry.
The divisions being exposed in the ANC may be surprising, particularly because the ruling Party has always employed enormous effort in projecting an image of unity among its ranks. Yet, as we approach the ANC's centennial, the escalating pressure to appear unified seems to be highlighting cracks and fissures.
The media tells us that the President of the ANC Youth League is enjoying diminished support, while the League's Executive Committee in KwaZulu Natal has been disbanded apparently for failing to support their President.
The media also reported this week on the State of the Organisation Report presented by ANC Secretary-General, Mr Gwede Mantashe, according to which almost three quarters of ANC branches across the country are not in good standing. There is talk of "the re-emergence of factionalism", "mistrust", "bad-mouthing of the leadership", "lots of suspicions" and fragility.
I have said many times that I will not interfere with the internal political dynamics of the ANC; and I will not comment on them even now when many of us are questioning who is the tail and who is the dog, and where all these fractures are leading.
What I am concerned about is the impact on our Republic of the implosion of political cohesion.
Last week's arrest of an ANC eThekwini Councillor for his alleged illegal possession of a firearm brought to light an unexpected twist.
While much was made of "the enduring strain between the IFP and ANC" and the fact that this Councillor had contested "an IFP stronghold", the Councillor himself spoke about how people from his own campaign team started demanding a percentage of his salary as a Councillor.
Death threats ensued.
This had nothing to do with the IFP. It had to do with the culture of entitlement that has taken hold in the ruling Party. It had to do with rivalries over securing salaries and positions. It had to do with money and greed for power. Ultimately, this is the root of the divisions within the ANC.
The ruling Party is nurturing a society split between the have-nots and the have-too-muches. For many of the ANC cadres, it is no longer just about getting a job, but about securing the perks that come with it. Veteran political analyst, Mr Allister Sparks, puts it like this, "I believe the ANC has become corrupt; it has lost its soul. The problem in the country is not globalisation, but corruption, greed and a lack of idealism. People are now just filling their pockets."
Our country shed some 395 000 jobs last year across all industries, with the exception of the social services sector, transport and government. Prospective employees know that a job in government brings security and benefits. But how many of them are prepared to work at maximum capacity? How many are qualified to do their job? How many care about work ethic, productivity and the best interests of the State?
The growing divisions in the ruling Party are heightening tensions over jobs and expectations. The wolves are fighting, but there is little reason to rejoice, for the sheep are being drawn into a culture of every man for himself.
As we address South Africa's unemployment crisis, we must change the perception of entitlement to renewed pride in earning positions and pay.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP