CR17 and slate politics

20 December 2017 | Opinion

Namibians in general appeared to have welcomed the election of South Africa's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as the new ANC leader following a narrow victory over former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The win clearly puts Ramaphosa firmly in line for the presidency of South Africa in 2019. The election of Ramaphosa is momentous in that it could help the ruling party turn around the country's moribund economy and appease the markets. In fact, the South African rand rallied over 4% immediately after Ramaphosa was declared the new ANC president. However, there was no slate victory for Ramaphosa as the markets would appear to have wanted. With a hung top six that now includes Jacob Zuma followers such as deputy president David Mabuza, Ace Magashule (secretary-general) and re-elected deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, Ramaphosa definitely has his work cut out for him. The odds are heavily stacked against him to bring down the high unemployment rate among young people as well as inspire investor confidence following a tumultuous spell under Zuma. On the other hand, he must also be seen to be fighting rampant corruption and disunity, which the party is grappling with. Tackling corruption will be his biggest challenge. Corruption has become so entrenched in the ruling party under Zuma and it remains to be seen whether both the state and movement would be further corroded by cronyism. So it is important for Ramaphosa to stamp his authority. All in all there are lessons to be drawn from the ANC elective conference, especially when it comes to the notion of promoting slate politics. Liberation movements like Swapo and the ANC are bigger than any individuals and members must guard against creating images of a leader through unquestioning flattery and praise. The slate approach associated with elective congresses does more harm than good and should be done away with. Slate politics also reduces delegates to mere voting cattle with no capacity to apply their own minds when participating in elective congress. It is completely unhealthy given the current political dispensation, which places a huge premium on forging unity.

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