It is only a person whose head is deeply buried in the sand who will deny that the ANC is tearing itself apart. And in so doing it needs no assistance from its political opponents.
It was ANC leaders who just before the recent local government elections imposed Thoko Didiza as a compromise mayoral candidate for Tshwane. In response, angry party members and supporters ran amok, burnt buses and vehicles and stoned anything in sight. The ruling party tried to distance itself from the violence but it would be hard pressed to deny that its decision was what triggered the violence. It is only the ANC which has the dubious distinction of being the only party whose ward councillor candidates (about 13, the last time I checked) were killed in the run-up to the recent local government elections. These killings were allegedly linked to factional fights for council jobs. It must be a party at war with itself when comrade turns against comrade in so brutal a manner that people are prepared to kill. Then there is the issue of Pravin Gordhan and the Hawks. Political motives are said to be behind the latest developments. The ANC at Luthuli House might argue that it has nothing to do with the matter and that government and its agencies must handle it. Well and good but there is a reason why the word "ruling" precedes party in reference to the ANC. The ANC government is handling this matter poorly and in the process risking to plunge the country into an economic crisis.
Now, no one is suggesting that Gordhan is above the law but why would the Hawks deal with this matter so clumsily? Where is the leadership? A few years ago former National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Vusi Pikoli found himself in a situation where he had to arrest the then National Police Commissioner, the late Jackie Selebi. He went to President Thabo Mbeki to inform him about the matter. You may have a view on how Mbeki subsequently tried to deal with the matter but one thing he cannot be accused of is not providing leadership on it. He tried to persuade Pikoli to delay the arrest while he prepared the security cluster about what was going to happen. Leadership.
In Gordhan's case, did the Hawks inform the head of state, given the sensitive nature of Gordhan's portfolio? It does not seem so. But if they did, did the President canvass the views and counsel of that nebulous entity called the collective leadership? Judging by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's remarks at the funeral of the late Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile, it would seem not. He himself was caught off guard by the Hawks' move on Gordhan. Ramaphosa said: "It should concern us because when government works well, it should be a government that does not wage war against itself."
Also, there is the simmering discontent by some with the current state of the organization so aptly captured by Sipho Pityana at Reverend Stofile's send-off. Reactions to his speech by some within the ANC suggest the divisions could get worse in the organization before some real healing takes place. The ANC is bleeding.
The tragedy is as a leader of society - it is still the ruling party, after all - the ANC's internal wrangling has an effect on the whole of society. When the ANC fights among itself, the focus is taken away from service delivery as energies are focused on factionalism and how to stay ahead of the other faction.
At the rate things are going, someone needs to remind the factions within the organization that the enemies are not Gordhan, Pityana or the candidate ward councillors who recently perished. It is not even the EFF or the DA. The ANC's enemies, at least from what it has told us, are: poverty, inequality, education, corruption, economic and unemployment. That’s where the ruling party should be directing their energy . Yet we hear very little nowadays about how the ANC government intends to tackle these.
Factionalism and divisions are not going to help the ANC. The same goes for our councils. While we appreciate the fact that the people who make up local government come from different political schools and ideological backgrounds, there comes a time when we must all put these aside and work for the collective good.