Mailbox: Time for a new Codesa as history of 1980s, 90s repeats itself

JOHANNESBURG — With the ANC self-imploding and finding itself crumbling under its own weight of corruption, is it time to form a new Codesa to chart a way forward? This is a question that Dr Duncan du Bois poses in this letter to BizNews. Of course, with so many competing factions and interests, one has to question whether it would ever be possible to get everyone around the same table. – Gareth van Zyl

By Dr Duncan du Bois*

History has a habit of repeating itself. By the late 1980s, extra-parliamentary activities had eclipsed the role of Parliament as the arbiter and driver of change.

That same reality prevails today. Apart from initiatives of the main opposition parties to pursue judicial action against corruption and fraud, Parliament has shown itself to be unable uphold its oath to serving the people of South Africa by impeaching the corrupt President.

Once again, the initiative, momentum and impetus in promoting action to bring about change lies with extra-parliamentary organisations. Not only are they sentinels calling for justice but they are activists going after the perpetrators of corruption and state capture.

They include: forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan, OUTA (Organisation undoing tax abuse), Right2Know campaign, Helen Suzman Foundation, FW de Klerk Foundation, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Institute of Race Relations, Institute of Security Studies, AfriForum and many others.

When Codesa (Convention for a Democratic Foundation) came into being in 1991, more than 90 organisations and NGOs were represented. Together with political parties they forged the transition from apartheid South Africa to the new South Africa.

With daily accounts of the strife within the ANC, faction pitted against faction, ongoing assassinations and violent intimidation, the hostile political climate of the 1980s and early 1990s is repeating itself, with a key difference: the “Struggle,” of which the ANC nostalgically boasts, has returned in a new format, namely, the “struggle” to establish which faction of the ANC can monopolise the looting of South Africa.

Lost in a blizzard of fraud, failure and dysfunctionalism is the ANC’s 1994 slogan “Ready to govern.”

African National Congress (ANC)

Since the onset of the Zuma regime, that slogan has been shown to be completely false as borne out not only by state capture but the shameless, avaricious scramble by Zuma and his adherents within the ANC to enrich themselves by every crooked means possible. Looting has not become an aberration of governance. Under the ANC looting is governance.

Clearly, our situation has reached a point where a new Codesa is urgently required as was the case back in 1991.

This mess cannot be allowed to stumble on to the 2019 election. Moreover, given the state of politics and parties, it surely is unwise to expect them alone to remedy matters through the 2019 election.

People need hope of deliverance. They need to see that there are real alternatives to the ANC’s kleptocracy which is why the convening of a new Codesa is required along with the many extra-parliamentary organisations which, to their credit, have stood up in defence of law and justice.

Just as South Africa needed Codesa to chart the future beyond the moribund National Party, so it needs a new Codesa to chart the future beyond the moribund ANC. It’s time to hit the reset button.

  • Dr Duncan du Bois is an author and postdoctoral, independent researcher.
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