What happens when those who want to govern us can hardly govern themselves?

2019-11-19 23:35

While political leaders expend energy and resources insidiously, they relegate the real project of nation-building and create a vacuum that is quickly filled by those with nefarious intent, writes Modidima Mannya

Not long ago we saw our self-appointed anticorruption and good governance angel, the DA, start a journey of implosion with the unceremonious removal of party leader Mmusi Maimane.

The resignation of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and the allegations he made cannot be taken lightly.

Not that this was wholly unexpected in light of the history of the party and its black leaders.

In a matter of days the party had undone its equal-opportunity mantra, replacing its key black leaders with white ones, including bringing back past leaders from the political grave.

Some will argue that the DA is finding itself and, as with any inevitable change, the ructions we saw were normal.

Those agitating for change within the party proudly pronounce that they are repositioning it, albeit through fight and fire.

As with many issues, the fullness of time will be the judge.

Internal conflicts have become the toxin of our society. Being members of certain political parties has become life-threatening. Some leaders have become champions at humiliating their members
Modidima Mannya

Enter the red berets and what clearly looks like a looming battle royal for the heart and soul of a party that earned its stripes for supposedly championing the cause of black power, while at the same time facing myriad allegations of corruption involving some of its leaders.

In its short life in Parliament, the EFF is reported to have had the highest turnover of public representatives.

The open contestation for power and developing animosity have started to show visible cracks within what looked like a well-controlled military-style project.

Commander-in-chief Julius Malema, probably anticipating some degree of fallout, has already pronounced that we must not be surprised if we see contestations for positions.

After all, it is all about democracy. And democracy it might be, but we must remember that there already have been instances of violence in pursuit of that democracy.

It is possible that we will see more violence as things change and the contestations become more pronounced.

What is clear though is that there is agitation for change one way or the other.

The ANC kindergarten has not helped matters either.

In a matter of weeks, two of its assemblies coordinated by the national youth task team were marred by serious violence that resulted in death and property damage.

The ANC Youth League has already gone through hard times.

One would have thought that by now fatigue would have calmed everyone involved but the opposite seems to be true, with youth league contestants displaying enough energy to spare in the race to gain space and power.

Read: The ugly side of politics

Ironically, the incidents of violence happened within the context of attempts to rebuild the youth league into a potent force to contest the space which the EFF has occupied.

Of course the youth league situation mirrors the ongoing troubles faced by its mother body.

Even with the 2017 elective conference long gone, the wounds of the past bruising battles do not seem to have healed.

The unity and cohesion that Nasrec promised to deliver remain as elusive as ever, with government once more systematically becoming a victim of that elusive peace.

There is a fight and a fightback and only ashes will be left behind should the status quo persist.

The ANC has always enjoyed the undisputed title of society leader.

The DA and the EFF have, to some degree, become deputies to the governing party and, while the ANC continues to retain its title, the DA and EFF continue to expend much energy on internal conflict instead of shifting their respective focuses to leading the country.

The divergence of views and policy between the ANC and its deputies is not helping either.

The fact that each party cannot claim hegemony on certain policy issues emphasises the challenges faced by a society dependent on political parties.

The public disagreements within the ANC on policy and the fallouts within the DA can leave society only more divided than ever.

The internal conflicts of parties directly affect society.

As leaders and members tear each other apart, either in power struggles or major policy disagreements, it is impossible to imagine that society will not participate in that conflict.

Those agitating for change within the party proudly pronounce that they are repositioning it, albeit through fight and fire. As with many issues, the fullness of time will be the judge.

Our society has become even more polarised, courtesy of the internal conflicts within political parties.

The DA has done itself a great disservice by not being honest and true to what it claims to stand for.

The attempt to blame its former leader is shameless.

In equal measure, the ANC and its youth league cannot continue to blame former leaders for current woes.

If political parties find it so easy to shift responsibility, who can society look to?

The blatant racism, powermongering, killings and persecutions within political parties do not augur well for social cohesion.

Political parties cannot have the authority to lead society if they are unable to relate and resolve their own internal conflicts.

Even as our homeland and the economy are crumbling, with possible scary consequences, those obsessed with power see nothing other than their incumbency in positions of power and access to resources.

The fact that poverty, inequality and unemployment are rising by the day serves as no deterrent to those with a penchant for power and fortune.

Read: The double standards of politics

Internal conflicts have become the toxin of our society. Being members of certain political parties has become life-threatening.

Some leaders have become champions at humiliating their members, others are so obsessed with the pursuit of power that one can imagine a potential dictatorship in waiting.

The history of this country is written in the blood of those who perished owing to political party infighting.

The last state of emergency was the product of the National Party’s internal battles.

The numerous massacres in various parts of the country in the past have their roots mainly in internal conflicts.

We must wonder what the future holds when those who are desirous to govern us can hardly govern themselves in peace.

The fact of conniving factionalism and the use of violence to resolve differences within political parties has become a cancer in our society.

Mannya is an advocate, writer and executive director of legal services at Unisa


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December 15 2019