ANC's President Cyril Ramaphosa looks with members of the National Executive Committee (NEC)
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The origins narrative of the ANC tells the story of a counterweight to the 1910 Union of South Africa, crystallised in the then Parliament of the Union and peopled by the then Dutch settlers and British colonists. To this extent, the Parliament of the People, represented by the inclusive ANC, sought to balance out the exclusive arrangement of the Union of South Africa.

In the forging of these two blocks, however, they were underwritten by a conglomerate of interests and ideas. And so, the United Party, later to be the Progressive Party, on the one hand, and the Pan African Congress (PAC) and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), on the other hand, constituted different iterations of a South African vision.

1994, however, represented the dominance of the broad ideological vision of the ANC. A vision represented by a constitutional democracy, in which equity is not optional. Therefore, I’m interested in the fate of this vision.

Fast forward to the electoral fortunes of 2024. The current divisions within the ANC echo a historical pattern of interests and ideas. Bar COPE, which has fallen off the electoral cycle, the EFF represents a ‘black left’. Similar to the ANC Youth League of Anton Lembede or the PAC, the EFF is concerned with de-centring whiteness and re-inserting state-centred forms of development.

On the other end of the spectrum is the MK, headed by the former President of the Republic, Jacob Zuma. This milieu represents the more traditional impulses of the ANC. Unable to accept their defeat in the configuration of power that established democratic South Africa, they want a reversal of democratic gains.

While the MK looks towards the past, the EFF understands the past and the present as simultaneously constituted for a reconfigured South Africa. However, while the

Democratic Alliance (DA) appears to undermine the equity provisions of this vision through market-centred forms of development, both the EFF and the MK are saddled with allegations of corruption. The problem with corruption is that it can subvert state policies, as we witnessed in the State Capture Commission reports.

However coalitions are formed, and with whomever, it is important to ensure that the equity provisions of South Africa’s constitution are central to talks that characterize coalition arrangements. Accordingly, any subversions of this mandate or their undermining should be avoided in these arrangements.

Though many may fear a post-ANC South Africa, it is important to consolidate South Africa’s constitutional principle of equity which permeates throughout the political divide.

Dr Thapelo Tselapedi is a Politics lecturer at Rhodes University (RU)

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