Discursive Constructions of the African National Congress (ANC) and Its Discourse of Freedom: A Critical Analysis
AbstractThis paper interrogates the various discursive or symbolic constructions or presentations of the African National Congress (ANC) contained in the 1999, 2004 and 2009 ANC national election manifestos and the ruling party’s discourse of freedom. The term discursive construction is used to capture the structural, systemic, cultural and epistemological patterns of hegemonic power that have engulfed the ANC discourse since 1994. We argue that the ANC is discursively constructed or presented as an organisation which brought freedom to South Africa; a leader of the struggle for change; an organisation still committed to the policies of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and principles of the Freedom Charter; the only force in South Africa with experience of democratic government; the only organisation with plans or programmes to transform South Africa into a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous democracy; and lastly, a mass-based organisation, rooted amongst the people, reaching into every social sector and every corner. An integral part of this narrative is a discourse of “complete” or “total” freedom – in the sense that it includes the social, economic and political aspects or elements of the reality of the lives of the majority of South Africans – which the ruling party in South Africa claims to have delivered for the majority of South Africans. All these symbolic constructions or presentations, including the ANC’s discourse of “complete” or “total” freedom, are negated by reality as well as by alternative oppositional and academic discourse about what has really been achieved in the country since 1994.
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