BE­HIND THE ANC’S JAN­UARY 8 STATE­MENT IS... A HOUSE DI­VIDED

Pres­i­dent glosses over crises and paints a glowing pic­ture of the state of the ANC, while other lead­ers warn that cor­rup­tion and fac­tion­al­ism will kill the party

CityPress - - Front Page - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

The ANC is a house di­vided as it cel­e­brates its 105th an­niver­sary. This was all too ev­i­dent this week as the party pre­pared for its birth­day bash, to be held at Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto to­day. De­spite the party try­ing hard to present a united front, ten­sions be­tween dif­fer­ent factions reached fever pitch, with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s sup­port­ers ac­cus­ing Gaut­eng prov­ince of not do­ing enough to make the event a suc­cess.

Zuma’s sup­port­ers, who see Gaut­eng as re­bel­lious, be­lieve the prov­ince’s lead­er­ship want to hu­mil­i­ate Zuma by hav­ing him speak to a half-empty sta­dium. These ac­cu­sa­tions have been an­grily re­jected by Gaut­eng’s lead­ers.

The Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee is the only ANC struc­ture that has openly bro­ken ranks by re­fus­ing to de­clare un­wa­ver­ing al­le­giance to Zuma.

BIT­TER RIFT

The an­niver­sary rally is the high­light of the ANC’s an­nual cal­en­dar, and prov­inces take turns to host it. It is where the pres­i­dent of the party reads out the Jan­uary 8 State­ment, in which the ANC’s vi­sion and pri­or­i­ties for the year are an­nounced. This year’s procla­ma­tion takes place against the back­drop of a bit­ter in­ter­nal rift, at the start of what is set to be a di­vi­sive elec­tive con­fer­ence year.

Be­sides these clashes over the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the event, party lead­ers have also been openly at odds with each other about the state of the party and the coun­try.

While Zuma painted a glowing pic­ture of the state of af­fairs this week, oth­ers – in­clud­ing Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa – warned that ram­pant cor­rup­tion and fac­tion­al­ism would kill the ANC.

Na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber Naledi Pan­dor en­cour­aged ANC mem­bers to “res­cue the ANC” and “speak up when wrong things hap­pen in the or­gan­i­sa­tion”.

An NEC mem­ber sym­pa­thetic to Zuma told City Press that neigh­bour­ing prov­inces had been roped in to counter the “lazi­ness” of the Gaut­eng ANC.

“We saw that these guys here are lazy and do not want to cam­paign. But they will never [get it] right be­cause there are too many prov­inces com­ing in to cam­paign and do door-to-door [mo­bil­i­sa­tion],” he said.

He said one of the rea­sons the Gaut­eng ANC was lack­adaisi­cal was be­cause it ini­tially did not want to host the event, cit­ing cost is­sues. A Luthuli House in­sider said na­tional struc­tures had also taken charge of the pre-rally ac­tiv­i­ties, held at Soweto’s iconic Vi­lakazi Street on Fri­day, as well as the fundrais­ing gala din­ner held in Sand­ton last night. Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula – who is also an NEC mem­ber and the ANC’s head of cam­paigns – even roped in his for­mer per­sonal as­sis­tant to help out. Gaut­eng’s ANC chair, Paul Mashatile, re­buffed the ac­cu­sa­tions that Gaut­eng was not co­op­er­at­ing, say­ing the pro­vin­cial team had done ev­ery­thing it could to en­sure the sta­dium was filled to ca­pac­ity. He said 800 buses had been se­cured to trans­port peo­ple from all over Gaut­eng and was con­fi­dent the prov­ince could fill the 40 000-seater sta­dium. He said lead­ers and ac­tivists had even for­saken their fes­tive sea­son hol­i­days and were work­ing hand in hand with Mbalula to pro­mote the event. More than 20 000 posters had gone up and more than 100 000 fly­ers had been dis­trib­uted. “Be­fore Christ­mas we made sure that ev­ery­thing was in place ... Ev­ery branch will have a bus,” said Mashatile. But a Tsh­wane leader ex­pressed doubt, say­ing the party was in the dark about trans­port ar­range­ments. Re­gard­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that Gaut­eng was reluctant to host the event, Mashatile said the de­ci­sion to host the bash in the prov­ince was made in late Novem­ber be­cause there had been a pro­posal to host smaller events in dif­fer­ent ar­eas on dif­fer­ent dates, rather than one big na­tional rally. He said the Gaut­eng ANC had then ex­pressed con­cern that in De­cem­ber the prov­ince was al­ways “the land of mi­grants” since many lead­ers and ground-level ac­tivists went away on hol­i­day at that time. He ad­mit­ted to bud­getary is­sues be­ing an added con­cern. “We were over­stretched, com­ing from an elec­tion cam­paign.”

POOR PER­FOR­MANCE

Be­cause of a fear of fail­ure, pro­vin­cial ANC branches – in­clud­ing Mpumalanga, North West, Free State and Lim­popo – were also bussing in thou­sands of peo­ple. The chair­per­sons of the re­spec­tive prov­inces said this week that they were trans­port­ing mem­bers be­cause Jan­uary 8 was a na­tional event.

A re­gional Jo­han­nes­burg ANC leader said grass roots struc­tures were still reel­ing from the shock of the party’s per­for­mance in last year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

He said Gaut­eng’s lead­ers were be­ing “iso­lated be­cause peo­ple do not trust them”.

The con­flicts that spilt into the open last year reemerged this week as ANC lead­ers criss­crossed the prov­ince in ef­forts to drum up sup­port for the rally.

Zuma, who puz­zled or­gan­is­ers by opt­ing to re­main in his home­town of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal in­stead of lob­by­ing for sup­port in Gaut­eng, used his first cam­paign ap­pear­ance on Fri­day to re­but his op­po­nents. He sin­gled out An­drew Mlan­geni and Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela as “real veter­ans” in ref­er­ence to party stal­warts who had signed an open let­ter last year chal­leng­ing his lead­er­ship.

Be­sides the Fri­day event and at­tend­ing an NEC meet­ing on Thurs­day, Zuma was con­spic­u­ously ab­sent from the tra­di­tional week-long mo­bil­i­sa­tion cam­paign. The NEC meet­ing even had to be pushed back by a day to ac­com­mo­date his late re­turn from Nkandla.

In ap­par­ent de­fence of his lead­er­ship, an ebul­lient Zuma told the Vi­lakazi Street crowd that the ANC had faced crises be­fore, even go­ing back to the days of found­ing pres­i­dent John Lan­gal­ibalele Dube.

“The or­gan­i­sa­tion has faced chal­lenges, and at times peo­ple said it was dy­ing ... But the ANC will never die, be­cause it is the party of the peo­ple,” said Zuma in a speech de­liv­ered mainly in isiZulu.

Re­peat­ing his reli­gious mantra that the ANC would rule un­til Je­sus Christ re­turned, Zuma said the party was close to God be­cause it had priests among its co-founders.

He said the party would “live for­ever” and was re­spected on the con­ti­nent and glob­ally.

“There has never been a time when the ANC was not called names, but it stood firm. Even to­day they still call it names. Those who write will write un­til the ink runs dry.”

En­cour­ag­ing loy­alty, Zuma said: “When a bus breaks down in the mid­dle of the road, peo­ple do not get off the bus and walk to their fi­nal desti­na­tions. They wait un­til the prob­lem is fixed and get back on the road once more.”

Zuma’s blasé mes­sage was in stark con­trast with that of his fel­low lead­ers on the mo­bil­i­sa­tion trail this week, who all warned against cor­rup­tion and urged that the party get back on track.

At the 22nd com­mem­o­ra­tion event mark­ing for­mer SA Com­mu­nist Party leader Joe Slovo’s death on Fri­day, Pan­dor called on ANC mem­bers to use their power to re­claim the party. “The power is in your hands, so use that power to res­cue the ANC. Use your power to bring the ANC back to the peo­ple.”

Pan­dor said or­di­nary mem­bers had “given too much power to lead­ers, and that is why they think you are for sale”, adding that the ANC de­served “lead­ers of in­tegrity, who will not be cor­rupt, who are tried and tested, and made a solid con­tri­bu­tion to our coun­try and the build­ing of this democ­racy”.

“We do not want cor­rup­tion and peo­ple us­ing pub­lic re­sources for their pock­ets. We do not want lead­ers who take us for granted.”

She went on to say ANC mem­bers knew those who were cor­rupt, “be­cause they come to you with bags of money”. “Let us ex­pose them,” she urged. Ramaphosa said ANC mem­bers needed to act to stop peo­ple who bought votes for lead­er­ship posts.

“Our move­ment is rid­dled with factions – and even lead­ers are lead­ers of factions,” he said.

He added that lead­ers must not serve their own per­sonal in­ter­ests or those of their friends and fam­i­lies.

“The is­sue of deal­ing with cor­rup­tion should be tack­led in a very proac­tive man­ner. We are go­ing to make sure that life­style au­dits hap­pen. And they must not only hap­pen to just gen­eral mem­bers. They must hap­pen at the lead­er­ship level, right at the top.

“Be­cause it is when we im­ple­ment such a de­ci­sion [that] we will be able to be­gin the process of deal­ing a dev­as­tat­ing blow against cor­rup­tion,” said Ramaphosa.

In a sign of con­cern about how Zuma will be re­ceived at the rally, City Press un­der­stands that mem­bers of the Umkhonto weSizwe Mil­i­tary Veter­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion will be on hand to “de­fend” Zuma at the rally.

Mean­while, ANC lead­ers down­played fears that this week­end’s heavy rains in Gaut­eng would keep sup­port­ers away or dis­rupt the rally.

ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said the party had “ex­pected ad­verse weather con­di­tions”, while Mbalula said that mea­sures were be­ing taken “to en­sure that we mit­i­gate against the im­pact of this on the rally”.

PA­TIENT Cyril Ramaphosa

RO­BUST Paul Mashatile

RAM­BLING Ja­cob Zuma

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