Political parties tend to evolve gradually, changing their nature over time usually as a result of changing circumstances.

To ensure the longevity of a party such changes have to be wise and take proper cognisance of the changing environment.

What I have in mind here are non controversial changes which do not provoke the coming into existence of serious mutually antagonistic factions.

Such factions are often responsible for turbulence and the self destruction of a party.

The ANC has undergone turbulent changes since 1994 with the influx of comtsotsis (comrade gangsters) who joined only to so as to use party membership to access opportunities for self enrichment.

Some of the comtsotsis were already in the ANC but became emboldened when they were joined by more comrades of their filthy kind.

The comtsotsis formally established a faction which subscribes to an entirely new ideology of looting.

Thus the ANC today comprises two antagonistic factions, one nominally subscribing [albeit with minimal commitment] to the original mission of the ANC to serve people while the other subscribes to a policy of blatant looting.

A good analogy is two antagonistic species competing for resources in the same habitat or two mutually hostile businesses competing for customers in the same market.

A process, which economists call creative destruction, will eventually ensure that only one of these two factions prevails.

The faction which eventually prevails will necessarily be weaker than the original pre conflict strength of the ANC for the following reasons:

  • Previous splits in the ANC were prompted largely by personality differences.
  • The groups that broke away had no viable alternative policy.

By contrast the looting comtsotsis of Jacob Zuma have an extremely attractive policy which promises incredible riches without any effort beyond loyalty to the party leadership.

In previous ANC splits the incumbent president had the advantage of controlling patronage networks at a time when patronage meant cushy jobs and perhaps access to some government tenders.

The Zuma years have changed the rules of the game.

The old version of patronage is peanuts when compared to riches that can be rapidly amassed by means of indiscriminate looting.

The faction of looting comtsotsis therefore holds out the promise of more attractive patronage than the president of South Africa can offer in addition to their capacity to bribe handsomely which they already possess even out of power having acquired it during the looting presidency of Jacob Zuma.

For the first time in the history of our democracy we have powerful forces that are driving two roughly equal factions apart within the ANC.

The destructive forces which are at work in the belly of the ANC will create a glorious opportunity for the opposition to remove the ANC from power for the first time in our democracy.

In my opinion it would be fitting that the day when the ANC is knocked out of power be celebrated as the birthday of genuine democracy in South Africa.

In my opinion the faction of the looting comtsotsis is the side which has the greatest potential to grow given the desperate economic situation of black people and the associated tendency to believe in miracle cures for every social ailment.

The nominally reformist faction should therefore abandon striving for unity with them and welcome the prospect of coalition with opposition parties to keep the comtsotsis at bay.

The reformists will eventually be engulfed by the comtsotsis if they do not tell the criminals to go to hell, prosecute them without delay, and start preparing ground for a coalition of sanity.

It is naked greed which is driving the internal conflict within the ANC, the prospect of amassing illegal wealth with impunity.

Yet this conflict has, ironically, the potential to usher in genuine democracy in South Africa.

There is a somewhat similar situation in economics.

Naked greed, a desire to be filthy rich is what drives capitalists.

Yet this drive results in the creation of wealth which is good for society.

How wonderful it would be if we end up with "comrades" who love the idea of generating profits by legal means.

Then we may yet grow our own entrepreneurs.

Themba Mdlalose

10th April, 2018