The African National Congress’s (ANC) promise to return to the fundamentals of the Freedom Charter is an attempt by the party to reestablish its ‘political legitimacy’, according to analyst Andre Duvenhage. This comes after the ruling party’s 103rd anniversary celebrations at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, where it vowed to use the National Development Plan (NDP) as a vehicle to re-affirm itself to the Freedom Charter.
The moved to host the bash in the Western Cape has been seen as an extremely strategic decision on the part of the ANC, especially in light of its attempts to win back support in the province ahead of the 2016 local government elections. The province is currently held by the Democratic Alliance (DA), who holds a substantial support base amongst locals.
“At the moment there is a complete lack of leadership and legitimacy within the context of the ANC. We know about all the in fighting with Numsa and Cosatu, and we know about the EFF issue. So it’s clear they would like to use the Freedom Charter to ensure legitimacy,” he claimed.
But questions remain over the compatibility of the NDP and Freedom Charter, with Duvenhage suggesting there were several conflict lines between the two.
Saturday’s bash, as well as the build up to it, marked several somewhat rare public appearances by President Jacob Zuma, who has largely kept a low profile since being reelected for a second term. His ‘reemergence’ comes at a particularly pivotal time for the ruling party, and has been seen as an attempt to reclaim his, as well as the party’s position in the Western Cape.
Despite this, Duvenhage was critical of Zuma’s presentation, describing it as not very ‘consistent or coherent’.
“There were a lot of loose statements involved, and he lost his text at certain points. I won’t go too strong on the content he presented, because we must take into consideration this was an ANC rally. We are not yet at the February State of the Nation Address (SONA),” he explained.
During his address, President Zuma notably took a swipe at those who have broken away from the main ANC organization to establish their own political parties; a list which includes the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Congress of the People (COPE) amongst others. With the ANC having all but dominated the political sphere since 1994, Duvenhage questioned whether these statements were healthy for democracy in South Africa.
He further added that Zuma’s active role within the celebrations may have been a sign of concern for recent developments in parliament, where the EFF and other opposition parties have taken a more radical and straight forward approach to challenging him.
“He cannot move because it is all about ‘pay back the money’. He is losing a lot of faith, and I am looking at this rally as an attempt to secure his position in the Western Cape. To show to the political environment that the ANC is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the Western Cape,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)