Organizations are not different from other living organisms. They come into being, go through the processes of learning and growth, mature and adapt to changing material conditions, or stagnate and die.
Often the ability to adapt to the changing environment is the most critical element that determines whether species and other living organisms adapt or die.
Change is the only permanent constant in life. Out of the womb of the old the new gets born. Sometimes, the old must die for the new to be born. Yet in other occasions, the new itself is not ready to be born and the old refuses to die.
The genesis of the ANC bears testimony to this irrefutable law of nature. Throughout the 104 years of the ANC’s existence, there have been ebbs and flows, growth and stagnation. Amongst many other factors that prevented the ANC from early death was its ability to adapt to new conditions and circumstances. Over time this critical element of survival was termed the ability to “self- correct.”
Denialism has never been a defining feature of the ANC. The ANC’s history has been the history of “problems identified and problems solved,” to paraphrase the late ANC stalwart and Isithwalandwe, Comrade Walter Sisulu.
The resilience of the ANC, amongst other things can be attributed to its ability to criticize itself openly and honestly, genuinely seek to understand the form and the content of the challenge, its cause and effect, essence and phenomena and locate it properly in time and space.
This has been made possible because of its umbilical cord, which is connected, to the people.
Consequently, an ANC that is not connected to the wishes and aspirations of the people, which are its lifeblood and nerve center, can never survive.
It is against this background that various ANC conferences in our recent past have made a clarion call for organizational renewal.
The recent local government elections outcome is the clearest indicator of a need for urgent surgery and renewal, before the ANC’s condition becomes terminal and incurable. Scientific and empirical evidence (declining electoral support over time) suggest that unless something extraordinarily drastic gets done soon, death is our inevitable end.
My perspective is informed and grounded on the raison d’être of a revolutionary and transformative movement for radical socio-economic change. Whilst losing political power does not necessarily lead to the immediate death of the ANC as an organization, however, the ANC’s historical mission as articulated in our strategy and tactics document and our perspective on the national democratic revolution, does not foresee an ANC that exist for its own sake. In other words, occupying opposition benches is simply not in our DNA. Hence the need to reclaim and regain lost ground.
The ANC is a revolutionary organization that has a clear mission of building a National Democratic Society. Hence the need to retain political power, with a full mandate from the majority of our people to continue with the radical socio-economic transformation project
It is in this context, that urgent steps need to be taken to prevent a scenario where we need to lose power first before we appreciate the need for urgent organizational renewal.
Extraordinary circumstances require extra ordinary measures. The scale and scope of renewal must cut across all levels of the ANC and all its component parts.
The first step required for a process of renewal to unfold is to admit without reservation, that doing nothing is not an option. The modalities of how this process must unfold and be managed are merely a tactical question and not a matter of principle. “There is no power that can stop an idea whose time has come,” said Victor Hugo.
At the center of this process of re-imagining a renewed ANC lays the function of leadership and conscious and active membership that appreciates the gravity of the challenges of our time, a collective that understands that we have arrived at our own “Morogoro moment.”
I have no doubt in my humble mind, that the ANC, that I came to know, love and respect over a period spanning over three decades, can rise to the occasion and effectively and decisively renew itself.
The words of that eminent prophet of liberation, Franz Fanon, reverberates on my head as I recall his profound challenge when he said in his seminal work in the (wretched of the earth), “every generation must emerge from its relative obscurity, identify its mission, fulfill it or betray it.”
Men and women of integrity, young and old, from urban and rural areas, black and white, rich and poor, are yearning for a renewed ANC that will restore the confidence of the overwhelming majority our people as a custodian of their wishes, aspirations and ideals as contained in the Freedom Charter.
CDE BRIAN HLONGWA IS CHIEF WHIP ANC CAUCUS, GAUTENG LEGISLATURE