Is there a distinction between the ANC as organisation and the ANC as government?
I have just watched coverage of the Daily Maverick’s gathering on ENCA with Paul Mashatile, Gauteng ANC chair saying he does not agree with Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s Nkandla report and it has not come before the ANC as an organisation who have not discussed this. The issues like extra security spending on Nkandla need still to be discussed.
This raises a very important issue. Is the ANC as an organisation simply subsumed under whatever the ANC led government decides?
One of the reasons why many were unhappy about GEAR in 1996 is that it was a policy that government announced as binding not only on government but the ANC. The ANC leadership, of which I was then a part, had not discussed or even seen the document. One or two people on the socio-economic transformation committee saw it at a late stage.
Since then the issue of the relationship between an appointed government and constitutional structures of the ANC has receded in ANC discourse and there has been a high degree of convergence between the government and the organisation. They have almost always spoken with one voice and as if they are indistinguishable in recent years.
Personally, when I was active and in leadership, I regretted this blurring because I had hoped that there would be a vibrant organisation coexisting with a transformatory and democratic government. That followed from my previous involvement in advancing popular power, believing in an active organisation, beyond elections.
When Mashatile made this point he was repeatedly interrupted by Mmusi Maimane insisting that Mashatile was bound by the Police Minister. In reality Maimane failed to see the distinction that Mashatile was making. It also reveals how parliamentarism limits political vision. I am not saying that Mashatile has always abided by this distinction. But it is a distinction that is important. But it is completely beyond the political experience of the one track mind/parliamentarism of Maimane