The African National Congress (ANC), the oldest liberation movement on the continent and the political home of greats like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, is in ruins. It was once adored in Africa and respected around the world.
The "party of Madiba" is preparing for an end-of-year elective conference that is more likely to exacerbate than to mend its severe differences.
Since about the middle of the first decade of this century, it has been clear that the ANC was "in difficulty," and things have only gotten worse since then.
Gwede Mantashe, a longtime unionist, a lifelong party supporter, a cabinet minister, and the current ANC national chairman, experienced the "unthinkable" this week when he was jeered from the podium at a gathering of the party's staunchest friends, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Jobs are harder to get, incomes have rarely increased in recent years, and unions themselves have fewer paying members due to high unemployment rates of between 30 and 40 percent, the latter of which includes people who have given up looking for work.
The ANC's "liberation premium" has long since vanished in a country where the "social contract" with a once-revered liberation movement, in power for 28 years, has deteriorated to the point of collapse.
The party's "cadre deployment" doctrine, which translates to "chosen jobs for friends and lackeys," has rendered it ineffective, corrupt, and lifeless.
Board-based economic empowerment initiatives have not succeeded in creating a sizable emerging "black" middle class—"black," in this context, being a political designation.
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