The ANC is out of touch

William Saunderson-Meyer |

05 August 2022

William Saunderson-Meyer says Ramaphosa sung from the RET hymn sheet at the ANC’s national policy conference


Last weekend’s policy conference of the African National Congress was a reminder of the growing disconnect between the governing party and the people. 

The country’s ruling elite live in a world far removed from the grim realities of most South Africans. The gap is now so great that it appears to be bridgeable by neither empathy nor intelligence. Neither of which, in any case, the ANC has a surfeit of.

It didn’t help the optics of the conference that it coincided with the gang rape of eight women by three large groups of men, thought to be illegal miners from neighbouring Lesotho. The police, which under Police Minister Bheki Cele have reached depths of incompetence and dysfunction that were previously thought impossible, responded by arresting 120 miners, not for rape but for illegal immigration, and igniting vigilante violence that has led to the clubbing to death of at least one foreign national. 

Cele, a crass ministerial abomination who has been implicated in corruption but because of Zulu ethnicity is crucial to Ramaphosa’s survival, added a personal sour note. Wasn’t it lucky – if it were luck – he mused, that one of the women had been raped by “only” one man? 

Other of his officers were much exercised by the fact that the three white women had not been raped. And others told the media that the women had been making a porn video, not a gospel video as they claimed.


Such crudely Neanderthal comments, which will go unrebuked, are emblematic of an ANC that lost its soul and come untethered from the people of all races that it is supposed to serve. After 28 years in power, it is tired, divided and uninspiring. 

In some ways, it appears simply to have given up trying. Many ANC cadres are just marking time, doing a last scan of the shelves to see what’s still worth stealing before disappearing through the exit.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was supposed to reinvigorate the party after the damage done during his predecessor’s presidency, is visibly listless and dispirited. He has good reason.

While the party endorsed, against the resistance of the corruption-tainted contingent from KwaZulu-Natal, his stand-aside rule for those ANC members criminally charged, it’s a double-edged sword. It potentially neutralises Ramaphosa’s most potent challengers at December’s leadership conference but it can equally clinically and abruptly end his hopes of a second term if he is charged in connection with the bizarre Farmgate scandal.