ANC TOP SIX: From left, Zweli Mkhize (treasurer-general), Cyril Ramaphosa (deputy president), Jacob Zuma (president), Baleka Mbete (chairperson), Gwede Mantashe (secretary-general) and Jessie Duarte (deputy secretary-general). Picture: ANC MEDIA PIX
ANC TOP SIX: From left, Zweli Mkhize (treasurer-general), Cyril Ramaphosa (deputy president), Jacob Zuma (president), Baleka Mbete (chairperson), Gwede Mantashe (secretary-general) and Jessie Duarte (deputy secretary-general). Picture: ANC MEDIA PIX

THE ANC was formed 104 years ago. The fact that its leaders have succeeded in destroying what was once a glorious movement for the liberation of the oppressed in just 12 years proves right the adage that it is easier to destroy than to build.

The problems that have beset the ANC during this period are part of a continuum of internal tensions that started peaking in the months leading up to the axing of Jacob Zuma as deputy president of the country in June 2005. Coinciding with these tensions are external forces that have captured different parts of the ANC, some of its leaders, as well as some sections of the state. The external forces and the internecine battles of the past 12 years have conspired to produce a moment in our politics that has caused our society, economy, institutions and discourse to be contaminated by the decline it has imposed on our country.

It is a moment in the politics of the ANC which, just before its onset, produced two cults that are erroneously referred to as factions. The cults are beginning to do battle again, with one seemingly vindicated by the buffoonery of the cult in power. I am, of course, referring to the Mbeki and Zuma cults. The tragedy for the ANC, as was the case before Polokwane, is that the so-called "battle for the soul of the ANC" is generally seen as a battle between good (the Mbeki cult) and evil (the Zuma cult).

It is for this reason that some among us are travelling to a future in which Thabo Mbeki was re-elected for a third term as president of the ANC and the country. This is a future in which SA is saved from the ravages of Zuma’s presidency and all memories of the calamities of the Mbeki era are deleted from our consciousness.

I dreamt of a different future, a future in which neither Zuma nor Mbeki were elected president of the ANC in Polokwane. I dreamt of a future in which the gap between what we know and what we can prove is eliminated. Our present is not the future I dreamt of when it comes to this gap between what we know and believe to be true, on the one hand, and what we can prove, on the other. It is for this reason that, at least for me, debates about state capture, the Pravin Gordhan imbroglio, and the state of the ANC, our economy and the state, have produced a discourse that, in its heavy reliance on Orwellian manipulation, is as clear as a foggy day in London town.

I cannot prove that some elements in the ANC were captured before 1994, nor can I prove that the capturing has been happening since then. But, I believe this to be true. If truth is on my side, they have been captured by a variety of political, economic, global and domestic forces.

In the current conjecture, the force that has rendered our country, the state and economy susceptible to the imposition — by ratings agencies, global investors and foreign leaders — of policy measures and other designs from outside, is the multi-headed snake that is eating itself from the tail. The main head is feeding on the ANC itself, bent on destroying its ideals, legacy and history.

To be fair, though, there are many in the ANC who watch in fear and horror. If they are a silent minority, or are a majority that remains silent for too long, the ANC is doomed. But this does not necessarily mean that its historical mission is doomed.

This mission must relocate to a space that is noble. It must find a home in the hearts of South Africans for whom the truth must rise from the ashes of today’s partisan interests that, in some cases, come disguised as a love for the national interest, good governance and fiscal prudence.

For this to happen, we need to unmask partisan interests irrespective of the disguises of piety they choose to wear. As we begin to do this, we must not waste time looking for the masks of those who have been unmasked already by their buffoonery, cronyism, corruption and pursuit of narrow political, private and economic ends.

Matshiqi is an independent political analyst.