ANC warns stal­warts against an­tag­o­nis­ing vot­ers

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI, SETUMO STONE and S’THEMBILE CELE news@city­press.co.za

If the ANC loses the 2019 elec­tions, the blame could partly be laid squarely at the feet of its el­ders, who have been pub­licly crit­i­cal about the lead­er­ship cri­sis in the gov­ern­ing party.

City Press has re­li­ably learnt that this was among the warn­ing shots fired by some mem­bers of the party’s top six at a four-hour na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee meet­ing with party stal­warts this week, be­fore a con­ces­sion by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma that their call for a con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence was le­git­i­mate.

Yes­ter­day, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe an­nounced that the na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee re­solved that the party’s pol­icy con­fer­ence in June would be split into two, with the first days ded­i­cated to the con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence.

City Press un­der­stands that the vet­er­ans went to Fri­day’s meet­ing with a pro­posal to con­vert the Jan­uary 8 cel­e­bra­tions into a spe­cial con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence owing to the ur­gency of is­sues.

In­sid­ers have painted a pic­ture of the first meet­ing of the two par­ties as be­ing frank and ro­bust, with Man­tashe and his deputy, Jessie Duarte, ad­mon­ish­ing the stal­warts for “be­hav­ing like they were not part of the ANC”.

They were among those in the meet­ing who ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with the vet­er­ans’ de­ci­sion to hang the ANC’s dirty linen out in pub­lic.

“They said that the Gaut­eng lead­er­ship be­haved like they were not part of the ANC; they do their own thing and refuse to in­volve na­tional lead­ers in any­thing that they do.

“They then blamed the Gaut­eng struc­ture for the poor elec­tion re­sults in the prov­ince, where the ANC lost two key met­ros, in­clud­ing Jo­han­nes­burg and Tsh­wane,” said an in­sider.

“They said if the ANC lead­er­ship lost in 2019, it might be be­cause vet­er­ans were be­hav­ing like Gaut­eng did.”

But yes­ter­day, Man­tashe said it would be wrong to blame the vet­er­ans for a neg­a­tive elec­toral per­for­mance.

“There is no such thing. We are en­gag­ing with them and we want to get them in­volved in the work of the ANC.

“The dis­cus­sion with the vet­er­ans can­not drive vot­ers away. The only thing that will drive away vot­ers is when you keep the vet­er­ans on the pe­riph­ery and then they cry loud. When you in­vite the vet­er­ans into the cen­tre of the move­ment, that can­not drive away the vot­ers,” Man­tashe said.

Other staunch Zuma sup­port­ers who came com­bat-ready – such as Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa, ANC Youth League pres­i­dent Collen Maine and So­cial Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini – pulled no punches at the meet­ing as they lectured the el­ders on their “ques­tion­able con­duct” of pub­licly rais­ing in­ter­nal mat­ters of the ANC.

Zuma is said to have sur­prised many – even those who were bay­ing for the vet­er­ans’ blood – with his rec­on­cil­ia­tory ap­proach to the dis­cus­sions.

He told the vet­er­ans that he agreed with their anal­y­sis about the crises in the ANC as pre­sented and con­tained in their let­ter ad­dressed to him, but had asked that a way for­ward be found. He also asked the meet­ing that the re­quest for the spe­cial con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence be con­sid­ered.

Those who spoke on be­half of the vet­er­ans in­cluded Pro­fes­sor Stan Sang­weni, Siphiwe Nyanda, Al­bertina Sisulu and Rashaka Rat­shi­tanga, who men­tioned the need to unify the al­ready di­vided ANC and to root out cor­rup­tion and re­solve the lead­er­ship cri­sis.

How­ever, Zuma is said to have an­gered the vet­er­ans when he used the op­por­tu­nity to make a mock­ery of the Nkandla scan­dal, say­ing the vet­er­ans were too quick to talk about is­sues they didn’t un­der­stand.

He said peo­ple didn’t un­der­stand and just wanted to talk, rais­ing is­sues out of ig­no­rance.

Zuma also laughed off a Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor find­ing that he “in­di­rectly ben­e­fited” from the Nkandla ren­o­va­tions, say­ing the term was in­vented be­cause peo­ple could not prove any wrong­do­ing . He asked: “How do you ben­e­fit in­di­rectly?” He also com­plained that, de­spite pay­ing up for the un­due ben­e­fits, peo­ple were still mak­ing a fuss and pre­tend­ing that Nkandla was still an is­sue.

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