IN A recent document, ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe made the following analysis: "The member who joined the ANC in the days of illegality when the ANC was an illegal organisation ... because those who joined at that time are men and women who understood that there would be no reward other than the liberation of all South Africans.
"There would be no personal rewards or decorations and the possibility existed that you could even be eliminated or imprisoned or hounded into exile or maimed and so on.
"They were a different calibre altogether. We realised that of the ANC in 2000 – the ANC had been in government for about six years – and we realised that the new members were treating the ANC as a legitimate stepping stone to opportunities of self-enrichment.
"Not only were the new members guilty of that, but even some of the old members have been overwhelmed and overcome by the temptations of power.”
The words of Mkhuluwa (Big Brother, as he is affectionately known) really got me thinking.
In its formation and early years, the ANC took an intellectual stance in its struggles. They would send deputations to the queen and petitions to intellectually convince the British empire of the cruelties of colonialism.
That strategy did not seem to yield the positive results envisaged and so the ANC in the 1940s had to adopt a more radical and mass-based approach which culminated in events such as the formation of the ANCYL, defiance campaign and many other popular struggles of the people.
However, after the democratic breakthrough of 1994, when the ANC became the governing organisation in power, a change in the ethical character of some of the members – including deployees in government and other institutions of influence and power – stepped in.
Being the party and organisation in government came with many benefits and opportunities that never existed in the struggle before liberation.
Now this meant that leaders deployed into government, can be exposed to how the state actually operates (the ins and out of the game), huge salaries as ministers, MPs and deployees as chief executives in government parastatals.
This situation certainly had an impact on the consciousness of many comrades.
Some who were not politically active began to be psuedo-revolutionaries only to get access to deployment and state resources. Being in the ANC became a fashionable career opportunity to other and a gateway to government tenders and doing business with government.
However, now as the ANC goes back to the drawing board (policy conference), a new struggle ought to be infused into the membership.
This new struggle is not that of arms, mass defiance or any other sort but a revolution of consciousness and spirituality.
Every member needs to sit down, ask themselves why they joined the ANC, are they acting in accordance with ANC traditions and make a revolutionary and ethical introspection. This phase of struggle is about the individual and not the crowd.
In doing so, I believe true leaders in the ANC will be revitalised and will no longer sit in small corners fearing to condemn new tendencies that eat away at our organisation like a cancer.
Society needs an ANC that will be an answer to their questions and a solution to their social problems and that can only occur in an ANC filled with mission-driven soldiers.
Luvuyo Ponase, ANCYL RTT member and branch secretary for Ward 23, Port Elizabeth