Konopa: Letter by Provincial Chairperson Activism 2: Perpetual Grievance Activism Supra Mahumapelo 

KONOPA: Letter by Provincial Chairperson Supra Mahumapelo


Since it began controlling political and governance power in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) has had to confront many challenges that include the phenomenon of perpetual grievance activism.  

Some will argue – correctly so – that what the ANC faced post-1994 is not new, as it had faced the same in exile, though under different circumstances. 

History in this regard confirms that some of the cadres of the movement turned against others and projected themselves as victims of their style of leadership. Some crossed over to become enemy agents, citing unsustainable issues of bad treatment in the camps.  Some sought refuge within the system of apartheid, projecting themselves as victims of harassment within the ranks of progressive forces. 

This tendency of forever complaining and seeking the intervention of leaders on this and that on a regular basis destabilizes the organization and seeks to project those in leadership and other members as perpetrators of some sort of actions that result in some members becoming forever complainants, dillallane in Setswana. 

These forever complainants create instability within the ranks of both the ANC and the tripartite alliance. This becomes possible, partly because some of the members, leaders and supporters lack the necessary capacity to arm themselves with political instruments of handling political challenges. 

The challenge we face as the ANC is the over-production of leaders who are populists and fond of being praised at all times at the expense of the revolution. Instead of being able to confront these perpetual grievance activists, leaders in some instances make it their responsibility to find fault in those who are leading instead of teaching members that in the ANC we work on voluntarism and selflessness.

In some instances, some of us simply lack the understanding of accepting, internalizing and living with the outcomes of democratic processes. 

This unproductive destabilizing tendency is so entrenched in the structures of the broader movement to the extent that a mere removal or exclusion from a Cabinet post is projected as a crisis among alliance partners. Literally, money has to be spent on long meetings and conferences to try and deal with issues that are essentially the making, plotting and planning of perpetual grievance activists. This is because we lack selflessness and we will try to rather ensure that the popularity and the standing of the ANC in the eyes of the voters is compromised.  As soon as some of us are deployed in senior government positions and parastatals, then the organization and broadly the alliance is said to be more united than ever before. 

This unprincipled approach to politics is very dangerous and poses a serious threat to the revolution. This situation worsens when from one term to the next a number of us fail to plan accordingly for the day we are not in positions of organizational and government authority. What we do is not only perpetuating grievance, but we spice it up by integrating it and perfecting the art of victimhood, just like the Soviet Union did when Mao Zedong worked hard to project himself as a victim when he actually imposed pain on himself and his supporters. This is how structures and sections of the society get duped into believing that we are victims or casualties of those who are in positions of authority. 

The ANC has to be equal to the challenge. One of the deliberate systematic approaches is to focus on protracted cadreship development programme that should be compulsory for all members and leaders at different levels. There should then be refresher courses for all. Leaders should be assessed by structures and individual members throughout their terms of office and any attempts to concoct anything discrediting the standing of any leader or member must be dealt with firmly. 

Branches must be encouraged to resolve – through democratic means – their own views on leaders who either promote or project themselves as baseless perpetual grievance activists. Such leaders should be put through processes that will make it difficult for them to qualify for election into any position in both the organization and government. 

Processes and guidelines must be tightened to make it almost impossible for anyone catapulting themselves through tendencies such as these to succeed within the structures. 

Cde Supra Mahumapelo is ANC Bokone Bophirima Provincial Chairperson. This is the second in a series of six activisms he’s writing about in Mogolodi. Look out for the third activism in the next edition of Mogolodi