In the classic Shakespearian tragedy Hamlet there is a scene wherein Lord Polonius is imparting various virtuous wisdoms to his soon-to-be travelling son, Laertes. Polonius closes his sequences of fatherly advice with the following:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou cannot then be false to any man.”

The advice from Polonius no doubt still rings true today – before you can convey truth to others, you will need to be truthful in your own thoughts, words and deeds.

South Africa’s most recent display of false promises, exaggerated claims, and oblivious delusion can be found in the ANC’s anniversary statement on January 8th 2022, delivered by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of both the country and the Congress.

Even though many members of society are now somewhat accustomed to the requirement of routinely weeding out the falsehoods, fake news and deceit and weighing it all up against lived reality, this latest fantastical concoction from the ANC could give Lewis Carroll a run for his money (so to speak).


Celebrations provide latitude for moments of self-congratulation and some ameliorating of obvious failures, but there are also the time-honoured virtues of studied reflection, modesty, and conscientiousness. These virtues are especially important when one has the responsibility of guiding a nation’s economic policies – even more so when the future for millions of citizens looks bleak and uninviting as a result of one’s own insufficiencies and callous disregard for citizens’ welfare.

Given that I was reading the ANC’s 8th January statement merely a day after having consumed Part I of Deputy Chief Justice Zondo’s  Report on State Capture, the level of delusion, self-congratulation, and contradiction contained in the celebratory statement is the clearest sign that the ANC is simply incapable of reimagining itself and, more telling, that it has zero desire to implement any of the corrective reforms directed by the Deputy Chief Justice.

The movement knows that it has exhausted all its revolutionary currency with the people of South Africa, and its failures as regards governance, corruption, and job creation are simply so numerous and endemic that it is now compelled, by some or other innate psychological pathology, to indulge in self-delusion rather than face a sober assessment of its multitudinous failures.

This will leave it in a difficult situation when it tries to reconcile its own contradictions. As  has been the case for some time now, the ANC will claim on the one hand to be reforming – in order to placate an increasingly hostile citizenry – while on the other hand it will continue with its outdated and failed socialist policies.

ANC wisdom

Selected pearls from the January 8th statement are given below as a tantalising entrée:

“….. the pandemic struck as we were launching concerted efforts to rebuild the democratic state after years of state capture.”

“As expected, the renewal that we have embarked on is being assailed at various levels by acts of institutional and social disruption. Let us from the outset make it clear that these desperate efforts will fail in the face of a united people resolved to protect South Africa’s democratic gains.”

“Consequently, political formations with divergent ideologies and agendas have found common cause in an effort to defeat the ANC and, more substantively, to disrupt pro-poor programmes of social and economic transformation.”

The obvious tactic in using these particular words is to mislead the public with thoughts of some unknown third force that is responsible for state capture and the country’s current economic malaise. It is not the ANC but rather someone or something else that has bedevilled the country for the past decade, leaving in its wake rampant corruption, a failing economy and tragic levels of unemployment.

More ANC wisdom:

“Our mission has always been to serve the people of this great nation and to ensure that a better life for all steadily but surely becomes a lived reality.”

“No resistance, even from within our ranks, can force us to abandon the cause of truly being the ANC of the people.”

“There are specific tasks the organisation must undertake to enable our membership to lead in uniting the country against backward and destructive tendencies. The ANC must have consistent cadre development and political education programmes to understand the movement’s vision, programme and ethos. We must further ensure that our leaders and representatives are able to explain our mission and programme clearly and persuasively.”

I suppose the sentiment expressed above is analogous to a once famous actress who has fallen out of favour with her fans and peers – she remains desperate to lure them back, to be loved and adored as she once was. In so doing, she reminisces together with them on her past graces and talents, but the persistency of her more recent poor performances and bad behaviour remains more obvious, and she is thus left to dwell alone within her own fantasies of glory and adulation.

A Luta Continua:

“The ANC urges government to lead in concluding a social compact with all social partners, setting out a collective commitment to implement measures and targets to place our nation on a higher and more inclusive growth path aimed at addressing our common national challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”

“As part of this Plan, we have undertaken several economic reforms in areas such as energy security, the efficiency of our ports, digital migration and access to broadband, and ease of doing business.”

These two extracts created diametrically opposed theatre scenarios for me. In the obligations required to be undertaken in the first statement, government is referred to in the 3rd person; as if somehow the ANC has not been the ruling party for the past 28 years, and is now inviting the government to play ball with the ANC, who will act as the country’s saviour and fix the multitudinous problems.

Perilous policies

There is no consideration given to the destructive policies that the ANC has consistently foisted upon the country, that in virtually every meaningful sense have worked entirely against alleviating poverty, unemployment and inequality.

In contrast to this 3rd person stance, in the second statement above the ANC credits itself with undertaking vital economic reforms that will benefit the country.  Except that the mentioned economic reforms are all fantasies – there has been no reform in ‘energy security, the efficiency of our ports, digital migration and access to broadband, or in the ease of doing business.’

Each of these policy issues is in a mess – Eskom being the most obvious. The ports are expensive and inefficient,  digital migration and the opening up of more affordable broadband have been delayed for years by various inept Communications Ministers, and any entrepreneur who has started a new business in recent years will attest to the mind-numbing levels of red tape and the number of bureaucratic hoops through which they need  to jump.

Given the risk of inducing nausea and even more hypertension for readers, I shall refrain from any further in-depth dissecting of the ANC’s statement, which runs beyond 8 000 words, save to say that the remainder of the statement is replete with other imaginings, statements of ill-conceived intent or manifest contradictions, such as:

  • the country’s ‘desperate need’ for expropriation without compensation in order to give effect to land reform;
  • how the ANC will implement all the corrective recommendations from the Zondo Commission;
  • how they will continuously guard against counter-revolutionaries seeking to undermine the good work that the ANC has done;
  • the ANC will continue to call for ‘democratic centralism’, (i.e. a euphemism for socialism);
  • the ANC will continue with cadre deployment but ensure that those deployed are capable and fit-for-purpose with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to serve communities;
  • the ANC will provide free basic services across all municipalities; and
  • the ANC must unite against “any attempts to undermine the National Democratic Revolution and our programme of social and economic transformation”.

There is a colloquialism that reads along these lines: “The end comes slowly, and then suddenly!

Maybe once the ‘suddenly’ part becomes obvious, levels of delusion also expand at an equally sudden rate!

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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