#ANC106 - Party must seize the day or lose it
As per the party tradition, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the January 8 statement on Saturday, outlining the programme of the organisation for this year, a plan of action that will also inform the government's direction.
Champagne corks will be popped, a big cake will be cut and entertainment will be provided to the thousands of ANC members and supporters present in East London on Saturday to listen to Ramaphosa.
But the arrival of the ANC leadership from today in the Eastern Cape, the meeting of the party's national executive committee on Wednesday and the subsequent event on Saturday should not be ordinary moments of ceremony, as was the case in the past.
If what ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe said in Soweto and Wattville over the weekend is anything to go by, the ANC has little to celebrate and more to reflect on.
Mantashe painted a picture of a sick organisation, whose biggest challenge is neither policies nor the implementation of programmes, but corruption. Graft has permeated the ANC to such an extent, it seems to have landed the party on its deathbed.
Tragically, the race to self-enrichment has also eroded the party's values and principles, such as selflessness and compassion for the poor and downtrodden, who continue to live in poverty and squalor on the margins of society.
Corruption in government has continued to steal from the poor, and looks to be surrendering the country and its future to unscrupulous characters.
South Africa is at a crossroads. Either we slide further into the wilderness or we are saved from a dim future. The economy is growing at too slow a pace to create much-needed jobs; young people are restless and demand the free education they have have been irresponsibly promised; inequality has increased the gap between the poor and rich; and race relations are at a low because of the slow pace of economic redistribution.
We are perched on the edge of a precipice.
On Wednesday, under these distressing circumstances, the new ANC NEC will meet for the first time.The nation will be waiting with bated breath to hear what Ramaphosa is going to say.
The party has an opportunity, which could be its last, to start forging a new path and recapturing the minds, hearts and imaginations of South Africans.
Given the trust deficit that has developed between the voters and the governing party, this won't be easy.
Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency was anchored on fighting corruption.
Now is the time to walk the talk. It is time for the campaign song, Zizojik’izinto, thula mntanam, wena ukhalelani ("Things will turn around, why are you crying, my child?"), to become a reality.
This is no time for empty promises. This is no time for Struggle nostalgia and credentials, but for delivery on promises and change.
It is not just about removing President Jacob Zuma, who has been at the centre of the corruption allegations, but renewing the organisation. Many of the party's problems predate Zuma’s administration and have engulfed the whole organisation, from the branches to the Union Buildings.
If the ANC fails to seize the moment on Saturday and fails to tell voters and supporters that it can self-correct, the voters will do what they did to the party during the 2016 local elections.