An African National Congress flag. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL
An African National Congress flag. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL

A new documentary has shed light on the apparent disparities between the vision the ANC held for SA when it came to power‚ and how that vision has changed over the years.

The documentary‚ produced and directed by Dr Siona O’Connel and titled Promises and Lies — Fault Lines in the ANC‚ screened for the first time on Thursday night at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein.

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe attended the event‚ while former finance minister Pravin Gordhan delivered the opening address.

The documentary is largely formulated on the basis of never-before-seen images captured by British photographer Laurie Sparham of the ANC leaders in exile in Zambia and other countries‚ and includes interviews with former finance minister Trevor Manuel as well as IPID head Robert McBride.

"These photographs and video all come to us at a very timeous moment‚ at a time when there is some sort of paradigm shift around the world and also in our own country‚" Gordhan said.

"The ANC as we have known it‚ the struggle ethos and ethic‚ the kind of values that it propelled hundreds of thousands of activists and people in South Africa around the world to struggle against Apartheid and to build a new and democratic South Africa‚ is an ethic and ethos that is being challenged at the moment‚ and being undermined in many ways as well‚" he continued.

Promises and Lies is thought provoking – as it takes one through a time of the ANC leaders that was not very well documented‚ for obvious reasons.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel said the values of leaders such as Nelson Mandela have been replaced with the "opportunism of office".

"If one were to draw a distinction between the leadership of Nelson Mandela‚ who focused very largely on what it took to convene an inclusive society‚ when we descended from that‚ it’s not about convening a society‚ it’s about not getting caught out. The values have been replaced by the opportunism of office and that is a deep tragedy‚" he said.

"I think that one of the ways President Zuma and those around him have opted to play this game is actually to weaken the institutions‚ [like] when the COO of the SABC Hlaudi Motsoeneng goes to Parliament and says I don’t come here to account because I am not accountable to you…Eskom today‚ Transnet tomorrow‚ the SAA the following day."

Manuel said the ability of the detective services‚ crime intelligence and even the National Prosecuting Authority which was ‘dismantled brick by brick’ to prepare simple issues for court‚ was another result of how the country’s institutions have been influenced.

"The consequence is not borne by a few corrupt individuals; it’s borne by the people of South Africa. I think that if you look at all of the institutions‚ you have exactly the same problem."

O’Connell meanwhile said the documentary and the photographs was a reminder of the past and placed an emphasis on the obligation on South Africans to be held accountable for their conduct both before and after 1994.

"Promises and Lies has always been more than an academic endeavour‚" she said.

"As someone deeply committed to the project of freedom‚ I was lucky to be given the negatives by photographer Laurie Sparham.

"We owe a debt to the libratory moment of 1994 which demands a relentless quest for unrealised freedom. Moreover‚ we owe it to ourselves to imagine this freedom in such a way that suggests a radical understanding of what it means to be human.

"The photographs remind us to guard the past‚ to give it a presence in the here and now‚ and to emphasise our obligation to be held accountable for conduct both before and after 1994‚" O’Connell said.

"This film is a small gesture of what is a lifetime commitment to my work and what it means to be human‚ and free."

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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