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January the 8th 2018 – Stalwarts and Veterans Press Release

Press release Dated: Thursday 4th January 2018 Subject:



This press release has been prepared by the ANC stalwarts and veterans (the stalwarts) who are signatories to the document “For the Sake of our Future” in October 2016.

The signatories also facilitated the recent National Consultative Conference on the ANC in November 2017. The declaration of that conference can be found at

The ANC and the January 8th Statement

The history of the January 8th Statement stretches back to Bloemfontein on January 8th, 1912, a full 106 years ago.

Last year’s statement was made by the then African National Congress (ANC) President, Comrade Zuma on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC and 2017 was declared “the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo: Let us deepen unity”.

The January 8th statement of 2017 was encouraging; “The ANC must be a listening and humble organisation”; the message of the electorate in the local government elections had been heard; the promotion of ethics in the public services; the rooting out of corruption within the public and private sectors of the economy and ANC; a commitment to learning from the mistakes of the recent past; stamping out gatekeeping, ill-discipline, factionalism, the buying of members and the manipulation of internal democratic processes. Members of the ANC were called upon “to be exemplary in their conduct and lifestyle.

We expect our cadres to emulate comrade OR Tambo and live a life of humility, integrity and selfless service to the people”. On the 13th of January 2018, a new President of the ANC, Comrade Ramaphosa will make the January 8th Statement on behalf of the NEC. As stalwarts, we believe that we cannot have another year of paralysis within the ANC, government and the economy, where commitments are not met. As always it will be the historically disadvantaged, the poor and marginalised that will suffer the most. It will also mean the ANC will be punished in the elections of 2019, especially, although not exclusively in urban areas.

As stalwarts, we believe 2018’s January 8th Statement will be well crafted and the majority of our people will be able to identify with this statement of intent.

Our concern is simple, our people cannot eat words.

The incoming NEC must deliver and be seen to deliver on every aspect of the statement, something the outgoing NEC failed to do. At December’s ANC National Conference, there was wide ranging and positive discussions on priorities within the ANC.

As stalwarts we were pleased to note that these included the need for a real scrutiny of the suitability of the present elected leadership, at all levels of our movement. It is hoped that the NEC, at their meeting on the 10th January ensure that the integrity committee of the ANC, whose decisions were sadly ignored in 2017, are given new powers. This should ensure the original intentions of the NEC’s 2013 decision to hold leadership accountable and that the integrity of the ANC is not compromised, finally become a reality.

As stalwarts we have long called for the ANC to become a professional and modern party.

We support the call for the NEC to set up an effective committee to fast track this. We wish to see serious consideration of one member, one vote, for ANC elections at a provincial and national level and the urgent introduction of an effective membership system.

This should go a long way towards overcoming the manipulation of voting, as described in the 2017 January 8th Statement.

Since October 2016 we have called for a National Consultative Conference (NCC) of the ANC, sadly the NEC was unable to reach a consensus and accept this proposal. In November 2017 we initiated a conference and were joined by many senior comrades from past and present NEC’s, Provinces, the Alliance and on the first day civil society, to discuss the challenges the ANC faces and possible solutions. We are pleased that the ANC Veterans League has taken up the call for the incoming NEC to formally initiate an all inclusive NCC in early 2018. If our leadership pretends that principled unity can be built without honestly confronting the challenges within the ANC, the electorate will continue to do what was done in 2016, until it is too late for the ANC to restore the trust our communities have historically given us.

The NEC’s meeting on the 10th January and the January 8th Statement on the 13th, should be an important turning point within our movement. END

For the Sake of our Future: Background

The late Comrade Kathrada was the first signatory of the document “For the Sake of our Future” and we remain honoured by the continued presence and support of Comrades Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni. As stalwarts, we count amongst us those who knew and worked with OR Tambo; were part of those who led the struggle against apartheid, spent their time at the “schools” on Robben Island and other prisons throughout the country; were the class of ’76; in the leadership, or loyal solders of Umkhonto we Sizwe; part of the internal underground; leaders and members of the UDF; members of the Alliance and progressive organisations.

During the fight against apartheid we worked in secrecy to avoid arrest, imprisonment, torture or death. That secrecy is no longer necessary and we must now create an open democratic party, fit for purpose.

Today, secrecy only feeds unacceptable behaviours, factions, slates and deals that have no place in a democratic party of the future. As stalwarts, we have been and remain loyal members of the ANC for many decades.

Our objective is to continue to serve all the people of South Africa and ensure the historical values and principles of the ANC are restored. As stalwarts, we feel a profound responsibility to the movement and the country, to ensure that the principles and values of the ANC are not destroyed.

We believe that the overwhelming majority of our citizens embrace the values of the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of our country.

We would like to believe that we speak on behalf of all members of the ANC who reject state capture and any form of corruption; want to see the realization of our potential as a nation and who are committed to the elimination of poverty and the unacceptably high levels of inequality.



17 – 19TH NOVEMBER 2017


As national representatives of Stalwarts and Veterans of the African National Congress and MK Council together with our fraternal organisations, SANCO, COSATU, SACP and ANC Veterans League as well as our allies from the Strategic Dialogue Group and taking into account the concerns from Civil Society, are all united by our love and concerns for our country South Africa and the African National Congress.
We are profoundly committed to the ANC, proud of its role in the achievement of our democracy and in the progress towards meeting our people’s aspirations as embodied in the Freedom Charter.
We are deeply troubled by the abandonment of the ANC’s historic values and principles, which has undermined popular confidence in government, parliament, state owned entities and other public institutions. This is an unprecedented political crisis.
We are also deeply hurt by what we regard to be a betrayal of our people’s long- standing support and trust in the ANC.
We observe that the current elected leadership of the ANC is paralysed and unable to deal with ill-discipline, incompetence and corruption that point directly to the highest office in the land.
We further observe that parliament and the executive, led by the President has been found to have failed in their constitutional obligations by the highest court of the land.
We are deeply disturbed by the leadership’s disdain for co-operation with relevant community-based organisations, thus relinquishing the ANC’s leadership of society.
The mismanagement of our economy has led to unprecedented unemployment rates. This has exacerbated the levels of poverty amongst the masses of our people. Women, the marginalised in our society, in particular the youth have suffered immensely from the full brunt of the leadership’s reckless decisions and indecisiveness.
The appalling state of the nation’s education system at all levels continues to promote marginalization of significant sections of our society especially our youth, which is destroying the lives of future generations.
The increased crime rates and the deplorable insecurity within our vulnerable communities in the background of the corrupted and dysfunctional policing and prosecution services together with unrelenting and dehumanizing gender violence, leaves a sore eye to witness.

We are witness to the moral degeneration in society that is overseen by a self- centred, non-caring leadership that lacks honesty, integrity and a vision for the future.


• The systematic looting of public resources by elected representatives and public servants to the detriment of social cohesion.

• The unparalleled capture of state institutions for factional and corrupt purposes.

• The marginalisation of many competent and honest leaders and officials who sought to protect the country from such dishonourable practices.

• Many deplorable instances of assassinations and other forms of violence relating to political infighting and acts of criminality;

• The systematic erosion of the State’s ability to carry out its constitutional mandate of delivering services to our people;

• The failure to implement the transformative social and economic programmes aimed at improving the lives of our people.

• Diminishing the stature and reputation of South Africa and the African National Congress in the eyes of our people, the sister peoples on the African continent and the world at large.


The ANC leadership has fallen prey to forces who seek to advance their own selfish and corrupt interests which is inconsistent with the values, policy positions and ethos in the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution;

• Membership of the ANC has come to be seen by some as a path to positions, personal power, privilege and licence to plunder the state resources.

• In government, some members of the ANC have failed to resist and combat actions that subvert the democratic state.

• The ANC-led Alliance is polarised, divided and weakened.

• The social distance between elected representatives and the people has

widened and support for the ANC has declined in recent elections.

• As many ANC branches have fallen prey to gate keeping, as a result of factions seeking political office to plunder public resources rather than to serve the people.

• Members who raise their voices in protest against the downward spiral of the ANC have often been threatened and marginalised.

• Our parliamentary caucus has been divided over mechanisms of enforcing accountability and for restoring the credibility of parliament.

In short, the ANC has relinquished its leadership of society and plunged itself into an untenable political crisis. This development represents a danger to all South Africans who love justice and who desire rapid progress towards a better life for all.


We feel the pain of our people whose enthusiasm, trust and love for the ANC has been dampened.

We acknowledge that our failure to address these issues timeously has contributed towards the grave reputational damage, political and moral crisis facing our organisation and country.

We are however convinced that our movement, with a rigorous, serious and genuine introspection can self-correct and be rescued from its current crisis.


• Turning the ANC from its present destructive path will not be a simple matter.

• A programme of self-correction must build on the ANC’s historic values of

service, selflessness and integrity.

Self-correction will require sustained introspection, critical analysis and concerted action to restore the ANC’s credibility as a leader of society and a humble listening organization that is rooted amongst the masses of our people it seeks to lead.


We are determined to work with many partners who share the historic vision of the ANC to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous nation.

We will not allow the ANC to die under our watch.

We believe, with our many years of commitment and contribution, we carry the wishes and authority of ordinary members of the ANC as well as the millions of our people.

We strongly affirm our belief that this historic National Consultative Conference can help to heal the ills currently afflicting the African National Congress.

We pledge to spread the message of this National Consultative Conference to our ANC branches its higher structures, the country and the world at large.



1. The ANC Conference in December 2017, in accordance with rule 11.5 of the ANC Constitution, establishes a committee to design and develop a renewal document, For the Sake of our Future including a plan of action and oversee a thorough renewal of the ANC structures including the branches as follows amongst others:

• To assess and scrutinise the suitability of the elected leadership at all levels in line with the adopted documents, in particular “Through the Eye of the Needle”,

• Takes urgent and practical steps to professionalise and modernise the ANC with priority being given to the membership system;

• take full advantage of the advances in the information, communication technology and management sciences to continue to put in place a better membership system;

• communicate effectively with its membership, core constituency and society in general;

introduce progressive management methods in the running of the ANC;

• supervise the formulation of practical strategies to ensure that the ANC develops both human and material resources to fulfill its historic task to lead the continuing struggle for the all- round victory of the Democratic Revolution;

• promote a value system that obliges its members and those of its members who are in the State apparatus to serve in the interest of the people of South Africa;

• oppose all corrupt practices, including the abuse of power by all its members in the organization and all institutions of State to enrich themselves or individuals and/or corporations;

• must defeat the establishment of cliques and factions which subvert our united national effort to achieve the inclusive democratic transformation of South Africa in the realisation of the goals of shared prosperity, poverty eradication and reduction of inequality in a growing economy;

• work together with society for the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society;

• respect for and the strengthening of the institutions of the democratic State;

• continuous respect for and strengthening of democratic practices and therefore the rule of law;

2. The Integrity Commission must be an independent constitutional structure within the ANC with the capacity to act independently from and without the influence of the ANC NEC or any official, including the president of the organization. Implementation of its recommendations of the integrity commission. The integrity commission must submit its report directly to the NEC.

3. TheremustbeaonememberonevoteforadirectelectionofNEC.

4. ThenumberofdeployedNECmembersingovernmentmustbecapped. 5. TheTripartiteAlliancemustberevitalized,strengthenedandrespected.


1. Corruption must be rooted out from all levels of government and state owned companies – Eskom, SAA and SARS in particular.

2. A judicial enquiry must be urgently set up to investigate state capture and corruption that has served to undermine ANC and the culprits must be apprehended and prosecuted without unnecessary delays.

3. Ill-gottenmoniesmustbeconfiscatedbacktofunddevelopmentalprojects.

4. Hope and confidence in the South African economy must be restored by stakeholder engagement and embarking in an investment pact with business,

labour, communities and government.

5. Youthunemploymentandjobcreationmustbeprioritized


1. WemustworkwiththeCivilSocietytodefendtheconstitutionandrightsofall our citizens.

2. TheconstitutionoftheANCmustbealignedwiththatofourcountry.

3. The president must be directly elected and her/his powers be moderated in

line with the prescripts of our country’s constitution.


1. An Electoral Review Commission must be established for the regular reviews of our electoral systems.

2. TheIndependentElectoralCommissionmusthandleourelections.

3. The ANC president and chairpersons at various levels must be directly

elected by one member one vote.


1. Retrogressive tendencies of ethnicity, tribalism, racism and all forms of discrimination must be outlawed and resisted.

2. Education and economic equity must be ensured as they restore dignity and respect and enhance racial harmony.

3. ANC as a progressive organization must promote, enrich and educate all sectors of our society on non-racialism.


1. The ANC must view and treat Civil Society as a natural ally for the enhancement of nation building and service delivery.

2. CivilSocietyispartnerindevelopment,onpolicyanditsimplementation.

3. Together with Civil Society corruption and current attempts to acquire nuclear

power must be rejected and resisted.


1. Calls on all women and men of honour and integrity within the ANC and government to stand up against all forms of corruption, expose, reject and isolate the dishonest elements that seek to undermine and destroy our organisation, government and our reputation.

2. Calls for an open and fair election of the new ANC national leadership at the forthcoming December 2017 elective conference that will be committed to stamping out corruption and state capture with immediate effect.

3. A principled new leadership will be expected to heed a call for an urgent, all- inclusive conference that will get a process underway of correcting the wrongs within the ANC through an intense and fundamental organisational renewal into a truly modern organisation that will be adequately fit for purpose and responsive to the challenges of our times.

4. Calls upon President Zuma, for the sake of our future, to resign with immediate effect because he has let the ANC, our people and country down.


Andre ZAAIMAN’s most recent position in Government (2014) was as an Advisor to Minister Lindiwe SISULU – then the Minister of Public Service and Administration in South Africa. He currently teaches and trains South African, African and UN personnel in early warning, strategic intelligence analysis and complexity as the Research & Innovation Director of the African Center for Security and Intelligence Studies (ACSIP).

He previously served in the Presidential Support Unit that advised President Thabo MBEKI on issues of conflict in Africa and the Middle East and in senior positions in the Secret Service, National Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC) until he left Government in 2008.

He was a member of a five-person strategic Think Tank of Prime Minister Meles ZENAWI in Ethiopia from 2008 until his passing in 2012. It assisted the Prime Minister on developmental and diplomatic-security issues in Ethiopia and the region.

As the founding Director of the Goree Institute in Senegal, West-Africa – established following the 1987 meeting between a senior delegation of Afrikaners lead by Frederik VAN ZYL SLABBERT and a senior delegation of the then banned and exiled ANC lead by Thabo MBEKI – he worked across the African continent in both urban and rural settings, building the capabilities of public and civic organizations for self-reliance. He is co-author of the book “Managing towards self-reliance: organizational effectiveness in Africa”. He worked for nine years with President Abdou DIOUF when he was President of Senegal, on political dialogue, peace and Pan-African issues.

Andre was an activist in the anti-apartheid struggle and as a member of then banned and exiled ANC underground, was responsible for amongst other things, successfully gathering and interpreting intelligence and evidence on the secret death squads of the apartheid regime. His work as part of an ANC intelligence unit, included the covert exfiltration and first debriefings of Vlakplaas death squad commander Dirk Coetzee and several other members of both the Police and the old SADF Reconnaissance Commando in order to gather both evidence and intelligence.

As a staff-researcher he contributed a chapter in the book “Pursuing Peace and Justice in South Africa” by H.W. van der MERWE (1988); then Director of the Center for Intergroup Studies at UCT, and a Quaker pioneer that hosted the first meeting between Steve BIKO and Afrikaner student leaders in the 1970’s.

Andre was one of the organizers of the first public stand against military Conscription as part of the UDF-aligned End Conscription Campaign and the South African Objector Movement. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he worked in one of the three secret tracks that lead to the democratic transition in South Africa. He lead many delegations – business leaders, political leaders, academics, intellectuals, youth and student leaders – in the 1980’s to the Southern African Frontline States to meet with Frelimo, Swapo, ZANU and the ANC in Lusaka; then banned and exiled. He spent time with the EPLF (Eritrea) and EPRDF (Ethiopia) during their struggles in the Horn of Africa in the early 1990’s and trained the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq in strategic intelligence analysis. He studied at University of the Free State in the 1980s until he was prohibited from further studies because of his political activities. He is pursuing a PhD in information and intelligence studies at Stellenbosch University. With two other specialists, he developed an intelligent-machine, early warning system for the detection and prevention of anti-biotic resistant nosocomial infections in Hospitals, which is currently being tested in a major private Hospital in Cape Town.

Later this year he will head back to West Africa for an extended Research Sabbatical in Senegal, the islands off the coast of Brazil, Polynesia and the Santa Fe Institute for Complexity in the USA, and then to China.

His life story was featured in several documentaries including “EAT MY CALL-UP” directed by Naashon ZALK which tells the story of four men who – facing lengthy jail terms and a potential charge of treason punishable by a death sentence – refused to “serve” in the South African Defense Force (SADF) in the 1980’s.

2016 – Revisiting the Democratic Developmental State

POST CURRENTLY BEING UPDATED: 2016 – Revisiting the Democratic Developmental State in South Africa



The issue – a complex and rather wicked problem – will not be understood correctly if we resort to binary thinking, oversimplification, moral preaching or political point-scoring.

As as a country, we are not in a good place: domestically one observes a resurgence of antagonistic racial and tribal discourses and our economy is not growing properly; on the Continent our soft power – the power of attraction –  risks being replaced by practices of rivalry and suspicion; whilst internationally there is a distinctly sour taste in the mouths of many countries when the name of South Africa is mentioned.

Denial or electioneering will not help to move us forward.  And the problem runs much deeper than just bad or biased press.

imageSouth Africa is in need of a DENG Xiaoping moment.

That is a moment where ideology-speak is replaced by a reality-check. Where we stop living in our heads – thinking and talking about “foreigners”, “Whites”, “Blacks”, “Women”, “Lesbians” , “Zulus”, “Sothos”, “Afrikaners”, “Coloureds” or “the Poor” – and we start encountering real human beings living in the real world.

When, in 1978 after the ideological tyranny of the Gang of Four that brought  China only economic, social, cultural and intellectual disaster, DENG and his comrades wrote the famous newspaper article loosely translated as “Seek truth from the Facts” – originally a quote from MAO Zedong – they were saying that the Chinese leadership should stop living in their heads and start living in the real world of their people. As part of this, DENG argued that China needed to face up to a hard truth: that they were backward.

Roughly 35 years after this, China became the worlds biggest economy.

Roughly 25 years after liberation, South Africa has fallen behind Nigeria whilst countries such as Ethiopia – a basket case a mere 15 years ago – is powering ahead.

In the picture above, Ethiopian technicians are putting the finishing touches to a locally built and assembled train in a factory in Addis Ababa as part of the spectacular, double-digit growth of the Ethiopian economy over the last 10 years – all done within the framework of the Democratic Developmental state. The country has just inaugurated its urban light-rail system as well as the new fast rail network to the rural areas.

Below is part of the extensive modern road network built into the rural areas and below that,  the overhead railway infrastructure being constructed for the new urban light rail system in Addis Ababa can be seen:




My contention is that rethorically, we talk of transformation but in reality we are sliding back to the discourses, mind sets and patterns of the past. I will try and substantiate this assertion in a new post. South Africa is relying too much on its small, inherited, undiversified and increasingly uncompetitive old “white” economic platforms to try and compete in an “open” world economy under domestic conditions of democracy and global techno-informationization.

As an introduction, I am first re-posting a piece on the Democratic Developmental State. This is because a number of the issues raised in this piece, touches on central elements of the underlying problem: we are politically,  economically, socially and intellectually stagnating although we are moving forward. This is off course a paradox – moving forward and stagnating at the same time; or as the old decomposes, it is recomposing in surprising ways – and it is this paradox that will be investigated and explored in the next post.

Here then is the Introductory re-posting:

The African National Congress (ANC) continues to receive – as demonstrated by the outcome of the recent national elections in the May 2014 – an overwhelming political mandate to govern the country and implement its election Manifesto. It is therefore timeous and apt that we ask: will South Africa continue to move closer to becoming a developmental state? And if so, what will be its purpose, character and impact?

In this series of three articles, we will explore these questions as well as take a closer look at the background and genealogy of this idea; some misconceptions about it; look at some comparative examples; assess how far we have come on this journey in South Africa particularly through the building of a capable State and an effective, efficient and ethical Public Administration; and finally we will attempt to look ahead.

The electoral mandate received by the ANC is democratic and political. Consequently in discussing issues of development, the economy and the state, we must also focus on the relationship between the people, the political and the economic – or the political-economy – and the domestic, regional and international contexts. In interaction these components can be observed, conceptualized and described as a complex and dynamical – therefore heterarchical – system in which the notion of the Developmental State must be centrally located. Our democratic Constitution, conceived upon a similar notion – three interacting, equal spheres – functions from such a philosophical perspective as well, hence there is not only a suitable conceptual and practical fit, but we also avoid thinking along narrow economistic and reductionist lines.

It is also necessary to mention this at the start in order to clearly differentiate this discussion about the South African developmental state from previous historical debates and examples of hierarchical, static, state-directed, centrally planned and often socialist, alternatives. This should not necessarily be interpreted as taking an ideological position about economic values – much is wrong with capitalism – but rather as an attempt to reflect on how to make optimal use of political power in the current conjuncture and context. Or in other words, how to best give expression to the idea that “the people shall govern” by effectively and efficiently implementing the political mandate that the voters of South Africa has just given the ANC through the free expression of their will in Constitutionally proscribed democratic elections. Our developmental state, given this reality, must therefore of necessity, also be a democratic one; we cannot simplistically try to imitate or transplant authoritarian versions from other contexts.

Moreover, in as far as development is concerned, there is a Constitutional imperative that is not often mentioned or discussed. The Constitution (Chapter 10) requires the State to be developmental in its orientation, and that the country must pursue substantive equality. This was eloquently analyzed by Chief Justice Pius LANGA in his 2006 Public Lecture (Stellenbosch) on the radical or transformative nature of our democratic Constitution.

The concept of and the rationale for the democratic developmental state in South Africa is therefore not in dispute: fast, sustained and inclusive growth; moving the most populous part of our dual economy – Black and poor – out of underdevelopment caused by colonial and apartheid dispossession; historical catch-up with developed economies by our national economy as a whole; and building competitiveness into the future. With the polity in South Africa having been fully democratized, key sectors of the economy however still largely function on the basis of cheap African and migrant labour from rural areas – precisely how the colonial and apartheid economies were built – and so the structure of the South African political-economy will have to be fundamentally changed, reformed and retooled.

A democratic developmental State will allow us to do so in an orderly and planned fashion, as we – through targeted State intervention – build a new majority-Black industrial class whilst at the same time expanding, diversifying and growing our industrial base. The twin pressures of a democratized polity and global competition in open markets, create two iron cages from which no Government or political party can insulate itself when it considers its economic policy or political performance.

In this respect I will argue in this Series that the democratic developmental State is a national priority ideally suited as the framework around which an inclusive National Compact can be successfully and productively negotiated and constructed. By combining this with a strategy of industrialization through regional integration – the latter already the consensus position in the African Union – the ANC Government will smartly leverage the investments it has made in Continental renewal over the last 20 years, and which are now beating fruit.

Background and Context

Some initial remarks about the context, both historical and contemporary, are important. In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War and at the height of neo-liberal triumphalism, it was impossible to raise any critique of free-market capitalism. As Wendy BROWN perceptively argued in her 2003 Essay entitled “Neo-liberalism and the end of liberal democracy”, the logic of the market had not only penetrated spheres where it did not belong – for example the public sphere that pursues the common (not private) good and which must protect or empower the weak against the strong – but also imposed a new form of rationality. Neo-liberalism is generally understood to be the repudiation and replacement of Keynesian welfare state economics with the deregulated, free-market or private sector capitalism associated with Hayek and the Chicago School of political economy. It is also closely associated with the phenomenon that came to be called “globalization”.

As BROWN pointed out: “The neo in neo-liberalism, however, establishes these principles (pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution) on a significantly different analytic basis as set forth by Adam Smith…Moreover, neo-liberalism is not simply a set of economic policies; it is not only about facilitating free trade, maximizing corporate profits, and changing welfarism. Rather neo-liberalism carries a social analysis, that, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neo-liberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutional and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player”. Wendy Brown: Edgework; pp. 39-40)

Earlier in 1989 in an essay published in The National Interest under the title “The End of History?” Francis FUKUYAMA asked whether we had arrived in a post-ideological world and the triumph of liberal democracy. The ensuing debate gave politics, political agency and the State a bad name and for a while it seemed as though the world was doomed to live the nightmare of market fundamentalism, conservative realism, financialization, militarism and rapidly escalating inequality. For Africa, this situation would have meant remaining locked in the colonial and post-colonial state of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment; a situation that under conditions of democracy, would automatically and rapidly lead to any Government presiding over such a situation, being unceremoniously voted out. The intricate and tenuous relationship between the people, politics in the form of democracy, economics in the form of free-market capitalism and the context quickly became apparent.

In that post Cold War period of conservative liberal – if not belligerent American – hegemony, South Africa and Africa had to steer a very careful course, given the then balance-of-forces internationally and in the case of South Africa, domestically. It was a most dangerous period fraught with enormous risks. The ANC Government realized early on that both the NDR and the project of a developmental state were political, strategic, context-sensitive and would have to be constructed through patience and human agency, effort and ingenuity.

American unipolarity and triumphalist belligerence, gave rise to a conservative liberal orthodoxy which came to be known as the Washington Consensus. It is important to note that the origin and history of the key body of policy measures that came to be known as the Washington Consensus, remains contested. Whilst the British economist John WILLIAMSON claimed that “the story started in the Spring of 1989 when I was testifying before a Congressional committee in favor of the Brady Plan. I argued that it would be good policy to help the debtor countries overcome their debt burden now that they were making profound changes in economic policy, along the lines advocated by Balassa, Bueno, Kuczynski, and Simonsen (1986)”; none other than Joseph STIGLITZ highlighted the fact that the key policy measures contained in the Washington Consensus, actually originated in the rational response of some South American countries to the objective political-economic and social conditions they faced at the time. Regardless of its origins, one of the enduring legacies of the Washington Consensus and how it was politically wielded on the international stage by the USA and other developed countries, was that the State was discredited and fingered as a key problem; particularly when it came to economic and developmental issues. Through viciously policed Structural Adjustment Programs, developed countries coerced developing countries into pursuing the withdrawal and weakening of its States; the deregulation and opening of its markets,; the privatization of its public assets; the reduction of its public debt and the “toeing of the line” internationally.

When the African National Congress became the first democratically elected, and therefore legitimate, Government in the history of South Africa in 1994, it inherited not only a country steeped in racism, division, fragmentation, violent strife, inequality and poverty but also one with an empty fiscus, a large public debt, a dual economy with one part developed and living off an underdeveloped part.

As far back as in its 1997 Discussion Paper entitled “Developing Strategic Perspective on South African Foreign Policy”, the ANC conceptually linked the people, democracy, development and the context; both domestic and international. In what was to become known as the “African Renaissance”, the Discussion Document presciently sets out the following strategic agenda:

1. The recovery of the African continent as a whole
2. The establishment of political democracy on the continent
3. The need to break neo-colonial relations between Africa and the world’s economic powers
4. The mobilization of the people of Africa to take their destiny into their hands thus preventing the continent being seen as a place for the attainment of the geo-political and strategic interests of the world’s most powerful countries; and
5. The need for fast development of people-driven and people-centered economic growth and development aimed at meeting the basic needs of the people.

From an ideological perspective, the implicit anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal stance, emerging from the liberation struggles of the African continent against foreign domination and underdevelopment, in these positions are self-evident and need no further emphasis at this stage. We will however return to these at a later stage as they are central to contentious contemporary debates about the South African economy, growth, industrialization and development.

The ANC and the Developmental State

By 2007 the ANC had articulated its understanding of the Developmental State with specific South African characteristics, and defined its key features:

• The first attribute of a developmental state in our conditions should be its strategic orientation: an approach premised on people-centered and people-driven change, and sustained development based on high growth rates, restructuring of the economy and socio- economic inclusion.

• The second attribute of a developmental state should be its capacity to lead in the definition of a common national agenda and in mobilizing all of society to take part in its implementation. Therefore, such a state should have effective systems of interaction with all social partners, and exercise leadership informed by its popular mandate.

• The third attribute should be the state’s organizational capacity: ensuring that its structures and systems facilitate realization of a set agenda. Thus, issues of macro-organization of the state will continue to receive attention. These include permutations among policy and implementation organs within each sphere, allocation of responsibilities across the spheres, effective inter-governmental relations and stability of the management system.

• The fourth attribute should be its technical capacity: the ability to translate broad objectives into programs and projects and to ensure their implementation. This depends among others on the proper training, orientation and leadership of the public service, and on acquiring and retaining skilled personnel.”

Importantly it also went on to emphasize three additional tasks:

1. Developing the capability to intervene in the economy in the interest of higher rates of growth and development
2. Effecting interventions that address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment
3. Mobilizing the people as a whole, especially the poor, to act as their own liberators through participatory and representative democracy

Following vigorous internal debates and linking the developmental state to the National Democratic a Revolution (NDR), a senior ANC leader at the time – Alec ERWIN – observed:

“A key point will be that neither the NDR nor a developmental state can be taken for granted. It is absolutely essential to understand the complexity of these phenomena. Neither of them can be treated as technical matters that can be brought into existence by political decisions and institutional changes alone, although both of these are important. An NDR is a historically defined possibility requiring a particular conjuncture of class forces. A developmental state is not some stage of development in state formation or a blueprint of governance. A developmental state comes into being when a political movement can translate its political power into a set of institutions that support developmental processes which can be sustained over decades.”
Alec ERWIN: The Developmental a state and the National Democratic Revolution in Ben TUROK (Ed): Wealth doesn’t trickle down: the case for the developmental state in South Africa; p.129; 2008.

ERWIN then went on to argue that even when an appropriate conjuncture for the NDR and for a developmental state may exist, it will not be brought into being in the absence of “strategic and sustained political leadership. This aspect is of great importance, particularly as the consensus in the literature and theory of the developmental state is that it needs to be constructed, usually under adverse conditions, and that a development-oriented leadership, governance and strategy is therefore one of several critical variables for success.

These factors connect the developmental state and statecraft directly: before one talks about a capable State one needs to talk about a competent Government. Sun Tzu in explaining the five factors that will determine victory or defeat in war, placed a particular emphasis on Statecraft too.

By the 2010 National General Council, the ANC Discussion document on economic transformation had concluded that “implementing a more effective development strategy requires a developmental state, in the sense of a state that can co-ordinate all its efforts around core developmental priorities and implement its programs efficiently. A particular problem is that groups with economic power can lobby the state, or even corrupt officials, to achieve favorable policies at the cost of broader transformation. The pressure comes mostly from large companies, backed by threats of disinvestment, and from black entrepreneurs, who use their personal contacts and the claim of equity to obtain political back up and funding.” The National Planning Commission, which had been established in 2009 to design a National Development Plan, launched its Plan in 2012 after extensive, inclusive if not sometimes rancorous debate, division and contestation. The DPSA started the process of building a capable State that is corruption-free, professional, effective, efficient and ethical. In other words, we can conclude that South Africa has already embarked on the journey of building a democratic developmental state – quite an extraordinary achievement given the short space of time and complexity of the task.


It is always useful to start a discussion by clarifying what meanings we ascribe to some of the key concepts that are central to this series. Concepts, as social constructs and linguistic expressions of ideas in ordinary language, can and do, within certain limitations, have different meanings and the particular meanings used, often reflect ideological preferences, contextual realities and power relationships. Their meanings are not fixed but under conditions of hegemony, some singular, specific meaning may be accorded exclusive preference which will make it seem or appear natural. The definition of a meaning is therefore itself a political act – of this we are acutely aware ourselves – and it is therefore also in the interest of transparency that we lay bare the meanings we attribute to different ideas and concepts.

In the next installment in this series, we will look at the concept of a democratic developmental State and highlight some surprising and counter-intuitive aspects of it.

On Deliberation: (epistemic)justice and (press)freedom in South Africa in word and deed


The rancid and acrimonious public exchanges peppered with strong racial and gender undertones that mark what goes for public debate in South Africa, raises a question that may at first glance, seem preposterous: are we sliding into a form of “civil war by other means”?

Words, information and knowledge can easily become dangerous weapons of a different kind.

Although deliberation – a free and critical public dialogue – is an essential feature of a stable and robust democracy, it is by no means certain that its citizens will know how to engage in this civic art. Besides, freedom of speech and expression as civil liberties are necessary but not sufficient conditions for this (that is inclusive, deliberative and equitable democracy) to happen: amongst many other things the citizenry has to be capable and the body politic free too.

But what does this freedom mean?

Certainly it means different things to different people and like all concepts, the dominant meanings ascribed to it have evolved and changed over time. In his 1997 Inaugural Lecture in Modern History at the University of Cambridge – later published as a book entitled Liberty before Liberalism (1998) – Professor Quentin Skinner skillfully traces the rise and fall within Anglophone political theory of what he labels “a neo-roman or republican understanding of civil liberty”. He describes how the “neo-roman theory rose to prominence in the course of the English revolution of the mid-17th century…but the ideological triumph of liberalism left the neo-roman theory largely discredited…the rival view of liberty embedded in classical liberalism went on to attain a predominance in Anglophone political philosophy which it has never subsequently relinquished.”

In the neo-roman conception of freedom, civil liberty was not defined by civil society or non-interference, but instead, by not being in servitude. In other words not being ‘in potestate‘ or literally ‘in the power of someone else’ as for example in the case of slavery; or something else as for example in the case of colonialism. The patronizing, patriarchal and paternalistic idea of “the good Master” is therefore anathema to the republican notion of freedom as non-domination.

Importantly, this is not necessarily the case in the classic liberal motion of freedom as non-interference.

In his 2014 book ‘Just Freedom: a moral compass for a complex world’, the political theorist Philip Pettit argues that “freedom in this sense requires the absence not just of interference, but of the subjection to another that was known at the time of the Roman republic as dominatio or domination”. He goes on to explain that “a common metaphor suggests that you are free insofar as you are given free rein in your choices. If you have all the leeway or latitude you could wish for, if you enjoy carte blanche in determining how to act, then by this suggestion you enjoy freedom in the fullest measure. The phrase ‘free rein’ is drawn from horse-riding. When a rider lets the reins hang loose, the horse enjoys free rein: it can go in whatever direction it wishes. When you are given free rein, so the metaphor suggests, you too can take whatever path you choose: you are under no one else’s operative control. But while giving the horse its head in this sense, I remain in the saddle…I do not exercise operative control over the horse, then, but I do enjoy potential or reserve control. And as that holds in the literal case, so it holds also in the metaphorical. When I give you free rein, I refrain from exercising operative control, but I still enjoy the reserve counterpart of that control. I may not pull on the reins but I do remain in the saddle.”

According to Pettit, a “republic, as it came to be conceptualized, is nothing more and nothing less than a community organized around these ideas of equality before and equality over the law. By a curious irony, however, it was at this very time that another way of thinking about freedom emerged to displace republican ideas. Under this conception, freedom in any choice requires just the absence of restriction or interference, not the absence of domination. One can enjoy freedom, in other words, just by enjoying free rein; it does not matter that another party sits in the saddle, retaining reserve control over how you choose”

This conceptual contestation is crucial to understand in our current debates, disagreements and firefights about transformation – in particular transformation in and of the media – towards a society in South Africa that is both free and just. It also raises the real question: what are the subtle and not-so-subtle residual forms of domination – of un-freedom – in the infosphere and beyond, that still plague our stuttering journey towards a fuller democracy?

And perhaps it explains the bitter tones between former comrades and across racial divides in our public discourse: the intuitive and tacit use of entirely different conceptions of freedom and what it means?

Albert O Hirschman in his wonderful 1991 Essay entitled “The Rhetoric of Reaction: perversity, futility, jeopardy” argued that “a democratic regime achieves legitimacy to the extent that its decisions result from full and open deliberation among its principal groups, bodies, and representatives. Deliberation is here conceived as an opinion-forming process: the participants should not have fully or definitively formed opinions at the outset; they are expected to engage in meaningful discussion, which means that they should be ready to modify initially held opinions in the light of arguments of other participants and also as a result of new information which becomes available in the course of the debate”.

But he hastened to point out that to achieve this informed, self-critical and free opinion-forming, deliberative process, is far easier said than done for there are several obstacles and dilemmas that stand in its way. These obstacles require further scrutiny and we will briefly look at three: 1) contextual dilemmas; 2) rhetorics of intransigence; and 3) epistemic injustice.

The first difficulty arises from the context because most modern democracies empirically-speaking, come into being not as a result of a pre-existing consensus on shared or basic values “but rather because various groups that had been at each other’s throats for a prolonged period had to recognize their mutual inability to achieve dominance. Tolerance and acceptance of pluralism resulted eventually from a standoff between bitterly hostile opposing groups.” (Hirschman 1991).

One will be forgiven for thinking that Hirschman had South Africa in his mind when he wrote this, for in trying to understand this as well as his later descriptions of the nature and the rise of conservative, neo-conservative and reactionary politics that flows from such standoffs and subsequent transitions, one cannot but notice the relevance of this and of what he observes next:

“A people that only yesterday was engaged in fratricidal struggles is not likely to settle down overnight to those constructive give-and-take deliberations. Far more likely, there will initially be agreement to disagree, but without any attempt at melding the opposing points of view— that is indeed the nature of religious tolerance. Or, if there is discussion, it will be a typical “dialogue of the deaf”— a dialogue that will in fact long function as a prolongation of, and a substitute for, civil war. Even in the most “advanced” democracies, many debates are, to paraphrase Clausewitz, a “continuation of civil war with other means.” Such debates, with each party on the lookout for arguments that kill, are only too familiar from democratic politics as usual. There remains then a long and difficult road to be traveled from the traditional internecine, intransigent discourse to a more “democracy-friendly” kind of dialogue. For those wishing to undertake this expedition there should be value in knowing about a few danger signals, such as arguments that are in effect contraptions specifically designed to make dialogue and deliberation impossible.”

Secondly, these arguments, contraptions and rhetorics of intransigence that block social change – transformation in South African parlance – and make sound deliberation impossible, can be defined, according to Hirschman (1991), as three reactionary narratives: 1) the perversity narrative in which policies or actions intended to effect socio-political and economic change are portrayed as having the opposite effect; 2) the futility narrative in which all attempts at transformation are portrayed as likely to fail creating a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and negative-expectancy behavior; and 3) a jeopardy narrative in which the costs of transformation are portrayed as too high and as endangering some previously achieved accomplishment.

But if we need to broaden our conception of freedom, then what about our conception of justice? For a lot has recently been said about freedom but much less – if anything – about justice. From Charlie Hebdos insistence on its supposed freedom and right to publish offensive religious symbols – even in the face of vociferous protestations – to debates about press freedom in South Africa and the right of journalists to express their political views freely albeit in a playful, social manner.

What is ignored is often more telling than what is said.

This point was not lost on African political observers, many of whom have remarked on the disproportionate media coverage given to violent events in Paris relative to similar violent events – but with much higher casualty rates – at roughly the same time in Nigeria; all perpetrated in the name of one or the other religion as such atrocities often are.

What then politically-speaking, is at play here? For this discursive game is not at all innocent but reflects quite vividly the underlying power relations in our society battling to transform itself away from an unjust to a just society: away from the evils of the past: discrimination, exclusion, violence, paternalism, patriarchy, inequality, dispossession and domination. In this sense, our democratic Constitution, based on the Freedom Charter and the wide consensus of our society, not only embodies what we mean by a “free and just society” but also calls upon all citizens to actively and practically transform our lives individually and collectively in this ongoing process.

Freedom must not come at the expense of justice.

The philosopher Amartaya SEN in his book “The Idea of Justice” argues that “We may often enough agree that some changes contemplated – like the abolition of apartheid, to give an example of a different kind – will reduce injustice, but even if all such agreed changes are successfully implemented, we will not have anything that we can call perfect justice. Practical concerns, no less than theoretical reasoning, seem to demand a fairly radical departure in the analysis of justice.” This call for a critical analysis of justice; and implicitly of freedom and of the relation between these two concepts, brings us to the third and last obstacle towards an inclusive and deliberative democracy: epistemic injustice.

What does epistemic justice entail? According to Free State University academic Tania Rauch-Van der Merwe in her provocative and insightful new study entitled “The political construction of occupational therapy: A critical discourse analysis of curriculum as discourse” and drawing on the work of Miranda Fricker, Nancy Fraser and Michel Foucault, epistemic injustice entails the unexamined a-priori assumption – often imbedded within discreet discourses of superiority and domination – that some groups of people such as women or blacks (or the poor or African?) are illegitimate or less-legitimate “bearers of truths” (Rauch-Van der Merwe) or “carriers of knowledge” (Fricker).

It’s importance derives from the simple fact that in a deliberative democracy where diverse opinions, the inclusion of marginal or excluded voices, and non-paternalistic modes of communication are critical transformative acts, epistemic injustices remain a major if hidden obstacle to making progress away from societal injustice and towards an undoing of forms of discursive domination that curtails freedom and negatively impacts on the potential for greater justice.

My contention is that such forms of epistemic injustices – a residual form of domination and therefore of un-freedom – are widespread in the South African media, public discourses and knowledge work. The opinions of white or male intellectuals and journalists in public debates frequently carry more weight than those of black or female intellectuals. If we want to move towards greater social cohesion and a society that is both free and just, then creating space for more rational, sober, inclusive and self-critical public debate, must become a priority. A free press and the media must play a central role in doing so but it will require that we all as citizens and as a society, honestly address the pernicious obstacles to real democratic deliberation and transformation that face us: the contextual dilemmas of our violent and divisive past; the rhetorics of intransigence to transform it; and the unfreedom that derives from pervasive and ongoing epistemic injustice.

But first, what masquerades as public debates or deliberation must cease to be conducted as though they are the continuation of civil strife and war by other means; we are equal citizens and not enemies after-all.