Athol Trollip
6 minute read
3 May 2022
2:08 pm

Unseating the ANC must come before comfort

Athol Trollip

It's time for parties to put their differences aside and be pragmatic about removing the ANC from power, writes Athol Trollip.

ANC flag. Photo: Supplied

I often say to people that the most important ‘ism’ in South African politics is not nationalism, capitalism, socialism, or communism. It is pragmatism.

Pragmatism is not the abandonment of values and beliefs.

In politics, it is the recognition of a cause greater than one’s own party and the need to collaborate with other organisations in order to achieve an objective. It almost always means working with parties with whom you disagree, but these disagreements are deprioritised over the greater national good. 

What is this greater national good of which I speak?

It is, without equivocation, the removal of the inept and kleptocratic ANC from government.

Also Read: Ineptness showing through the cracks of ANC’s economic policy

There is probably no political objective or mission in South Africa more powerful, more universal, or more transcendent of our politics than the shared belief that the ANC needs to go in order for South Africa to prosper. 

This truth has become a common cause in our country because every post-apartheid societal problem can be traced back to ANC government failures that have become so systemic that they can only be understood to have been caused by the ANC. 

This fact was recently so candidly exposed when Busisiwe Mavuso was ejected from a SCOPA hearing where the IFP’s sycophantic chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa and the ANC couldn’t bear to hear the truth. 

Every discussion about fixing education starts with the removal of the ANC to end the era of SADTU’s control over the future of our children.

Every discussion about the economy involves the removal of a party that provides no clarity of vision, no direction, and no leadership towards growing our economy and to create jobs.

Every discussion about our criminal justice system has the removal of the ANC as a pre-requisite because, after all, how can criminals succeed in fighting criminality? The adage that poachers make the best gamekeepers is just not apposite in this instance. 

Also Read: Crime pays well in South Africa: The political landscape is infested with nests of criminals

There is no belief in meaningful solutions, strong ethical leadership or coherent economic direction emanating from the ANC.

Even in the most unlikely places, within the rank and file of the ANC, supporters have simply stopped voting.

The only reason the ANC gets elected, even if in fewer places with each election, is because of the ever-deepening polarisation of the electorate and the complete failure of ambition and imagination of opposition parties in South Africa. 

It should therefore follow that, even in the fragmented space of South African politics, even with the many things about which we disagree, one unifying objective should form the basis of collaboration – the removal of the ANC. 

This is precisely why the recent events in the Nelson Mandela Bay Council circus are a lamentable alienation of the residents who experience failed ANC government in the most inconvenient and painful way.

I venture reluctantly, possibly more than most other places in South Africa. 

Also Read: Double ANC murder: Councillors gunned down in Eastern Cape, manhunt underway

A majority of councillors from the DA, VF Plus, EFF, PA, UDM, COPE, ACDP and others recently signed a petition for the removal of the ANC Mayor.

Residents rejoiced in this ray of hope. But alas the DA instead held a press conference in which they spoke about the incumbent challenges of taking over the failed ANC-led coalition in the most tragically and politically emasculated manner.

Challenges relating to the municipal manager. The water crisis. The instability of a coalition with so many parties that may be required. Critically, they committed to come to Council and vote out the ANC government and when the time came, they flattered only to deceive. 

A day or two later. the ACDP and VF Plus were the lone rangers in the Council because the word was out that the DA would not attend and vote out the ANC because they did not want to rush into an unstable coalition government. 

This is patently a decision made in the interests of a political party, in the interests of comfort and not for the greater good.

Where did the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay feature in that decision?

Theodore Rooseveld, in his famous Man in the arena speech. Concluded with the following words:

“Who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

The speech aptly describes the VF Plus, ACDP and many other political parties who were willing to recognise the importance of removing the ANC.

These parties were willing to put their differences aside because they know that above their differences, the ANC must go.

What better description then for the DA than “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat?”

There might or might not have been a legal challenge related to going ahead with the meeting, however, did not stop the DA from proceeding with a council meeting and appointing another city manager.

Now, the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay will have to continue to endure the chaotic coalition with the ANC still in control.

Water cuts will persist, sewerage will continue to flow down the streets and corruption will continue.

Our cities, provinces and country will not be turned around by those cold and timid souls. 

Nelson Mandela Bay as the rest of our country needs bold leadership. Opposition parties, collectively, need to show more ambition, imagination, and commitment and this has to be built on a foundation of pragmatism – the removal and replacement of the hapless ANC government. 

Every day I encounter scores of people who are abandoning the ANC for better political options and opening up new opportunities where that have never existed before. Ordinary people young and old, black, and white, urban, and rural are making new choices. Little by little more South Africans are beginning to unite uniting behind new and fresh ideas and a vision for a more prosperous South Africa. 

The time has come for political parties to sit down and chart a pragmatic way forward with only one item on the agenda: the removal of the ANC from national and provincial governments in 2024.

  • Trollip is ActionSA Eastern-Cape Provincial Chairperson. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Citizen.