Mantashe cracks the party whip
As powerful region endorses Ramaphosa and backs Mantashe, secretary-general warns against ‘joining forces with the enemy’
The second-biggest ANC region in the country, the Eastern Cape, has endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the next president of the party, and wants current secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to return into the top six. Xolile Nkompela, the ANC’s OR Tambo regional chairperson, told a memorial lecture in honour of slain Communist Party leader Chris Hani that the party wanted to ensure that Mantashe returned to being part of the top six when new leaders were elected in December. Mantashe delivered the memorial lecture. Nkompela, who spoke before Mantashe at a packed OR Tambo Hall in Mthatha on Friday, said they also wanted change in the provincial ANC leadership, led by Premier Phumulo Masualle, who is also chair of the ANC.
He said they wanted current provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane to replace Masualle at the provincial elective conference in July with a new leadership collective.
Later, in an interview with City Press, Nkompela said his region would support Ramaphosa, who is vying for the position of party president against President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“When going to [the ANC national conference in] Polokwane in 2007, we said the deputy president of the ANC must be president. We are not confused about that and we are still maintaining that.
“Unless we can be convinced otherwise, we are saying the DP [deputy president Ramaphosa] is ready when the president of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma, steps down in December.
“The president of the ANC at the moment is Zuma. There is no contestation about that and we have to respect him. But immediately after the national executive committee is dissolved in December, we start to nominate and vote for the nominated leaders. We will vote for Ramaphosa as president,” said Nkompela.
He said although they were not sure yet what position they would nominate Mantashe for, they wanted him back in the top six as “he is a principled leader”.
In his address at the memorial lecture, Mantashe lashed out at factionalism. He referred to the current goings-on ahead of the elective conference as a silly season, saying a lot of dirt would be thrown at people.
On the issue of the president’s recent controversial Cabinet reshuffle, Mantashe said they had since reinstated the question of consultation with the ANC.
“We are not asking for a favour that we must be consulted. We must be consulted. That was a resolution taken at the 52nd national conference [held in Polokwane in Limpopo]. We reaffirm that.
“We also reaffirm that the intelligence report [implicating former finance minister Pravin Gordhan] that was used [to fire Gordhan] complicated our space.
“It was even worse when the minister of intelligence called a press conference and said the report was not theirs. So, who does it belong to?”
Mantashe added that it was a mistake to suggest that some members of the ANC’s top six were now rebels because they had raised issues about the organisation in principle. This was in reference to public utterances Mantashe had made, along with Ramaphosa and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, expressing concern over Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle. “We cannot be rebels because we are raising issues affecting the organisation. We are going to raise issues of the organisation now and in future. We want the organisation to attend to those issues.
“But you cannot expect me, as secretarygeneral, to team up with opposition parties because I am angry. It is the worst thing that can happen to me,” Mantashe said.
He said more detail on the radical economic transformation being espoused was needed because currently, people were using the term, but it was “hollow in content”. “If we want to honour comrade Chris [Hani], we must fight factionalism in all its forms and manifestations. The problem with factionalism is that we do not see it is wrong when it suits us [not to to so].
“I can see Nkompela is being mischievous, saying they want Gwede first, which makes me think this is right. But no, factionalism is wrong. It has few effects. It divides, it destroys, it mutates.”
Mantashe said the Eastern Cape was a very important province but was divided. He said everyone’s strength was their base, their home.
“You must talk to each other and unify the province. If you don’t do that, you are giving yourselves a luxury you do not have. You must not allow people who are carrying money bags to divide you.
“I can see that the Eastern Cape is becoming a Mecca of sorts; everyone is coming here for pilgrimages.
“They come here to cut their small piece from this province. You should not allow that. All I am saying is that factionalism must be fought,” he said.
Mantashe said an SA Communist Party, under its erstwhile leader Hani, would never have shared a platform “with the enemy” because he was irritated by Zuma.
“He would not. He would deal with this irritation of Jacob Zuma here and fight it,” he said.
“You must never have a Communist Party that joins forces with the enemy for immediate satisfaction. That cannot happen. Chris Hani would not have allowed that.”
The ANC’s 54th national conference, taking place from December 16 to 20, was an opportunity for the party to correct itself, Mantashe said.
He said the problem was that members were not discussing leadership of the ANC not in terms of principle but in terms of preference.
“We must ... discuss leadership in terms of track record and behaviour in the organisation. If we don’t do that, as much as we complain about corrupt individuals and looters in the organisation, we will continue electing a leadership that sends the same message,” he said.
UNIFIED The launch of new union federation Saftu took place at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg. From left: Mbhazima Shilowa, Jay Naidoo, Zwelinzima Vavi and Ronald Mofokeng