‘Teach ANC youth tol­er­ance’

ANC trea­surer-gen­eral says the gov­ern­ing party can­not cel­e­brate junk sta­tus

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

ANC trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize wants the party’s youth league to be “trained in tol­er­ance” af­ter its re­cent dis­rup­tion of the Dur­ban me­mo­rial ser­vice for ANC stal­wart Ahmed Kathrada, saying they needed to un­der­stand that views that dif­fered from their own were al­lowed. The for­mer KwaZulu-Natal premier and provin­cial ANC chair­per­son also told City Press he openly crit­i­cised Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s late-night Cab­i­net reshuf­fle be­cause “cir­cum­stances” de­manded that he do so.

Mkhize was also un­happy with se­nior ANC and gov­ern­ment lead­ers who cel­e­brated the news of South Africa be­ing down­graded to “junk” sta­tus and be­lieves there is a need to “cor­rect’’ such be­hav­iour.

He has sug­gested that the two days set aside to dis­cuss the “dif­fi­cult time” fac­ing the gov­ern­ing party at its pol­icy con­fer­ence in July should be used to ham­mer out rules for cam­paign­ing ahead of the De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Mkhize made th­ese com­ments in a wide-rang­ing interview with City Press this week.

He has been tipped to ei­ther stand as ANC deputy pres­i­dent come De­cem­ber or, more re­cently, as an alternative to both deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and for­mer AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma for the po­si­tion of party pres­i­dent.

Ad­dress­ing the party’s vet­er­ans calls for a spe­cial con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to dis­cuss their wish for Zuma to step down, Mkhize said the July pol­icy con­fer­ence would be the fo­rum in­stead.

“Two days on one sub­ject like that should be fairly help­ful. I hope that all the com­rades who have is­sues find a way to chan­nel their is­sues through it. I think it will help a lot. It was not part of the plan, but came about be­cause the stal­warts sug­gested a con­fer­ence,” he said.

“There were many views and we felt that those could not be dis­cussed out­side the con­text and the con­text is that the or­gan­i­sa­tion is go­ing through a dif­fi­cult time,” Mkhize said.

Ad­dress­ing the boo­ing of him­self and for­mer finance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han at the Kathrada me­mo­rial, Mkhize said it was “noth­ing personal” and was a spin-off of the cur­rent “con­tes­ta­tion of views”.

“It re­mains ill dis­ci­pline. It raises the need for young peo­ple to be trained in tol­er­ance,” he said.

“There are certain con­ducts that can­not be con­sid­ered a fit­ting trib­ute to a stal­wart such as Ahmed Kathrada. I am of the opin­ion that young peo­ple need to be con­stantly and con­sis­tently en­gaged with so that they know the right way and the wrong way of be­hav­ing,” he said.

In re­sponse to ques­tions as to why he spoke out on the reshuf­fle, Mkhize said there were “certain cir­cum­stances around the mat­ter”.

“Suf­fice to say that we have had an op­por­tu­nity to deal with and thrash out those is­sues in­ter­nally ... To­gether we have worked out a way that the or­gan­i­sa­tion must move [for­ward] now,” he said.

“Let’s put it this way – we are deal­ing with par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances that made us take up that par­tic­u­lar de­bate and we have found a way of deal­ing with it,” the for­mer close ally of Zuma said. Mkhize said the party’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee had is­sued a state­ment that all lead­ers had to take the down­grades se­ri­ously and work to­gether in sup­port of Trea­sury. “We will con­tinue to cor­rect those who might be down­play­ing the na­ture of the chal­lenge,” he said.

Mkhize said the ANC was fac­ing many chal­lenges, some of them due to ob­jec­tive fac­tors such as the poor per­for­mance of the econ­omy, which meant that “the party takes the heat”. There were also internal weak­nesses within the party that needed to be “straight­ened [out] and re­solved”.

Turn­ing to the ANC suc­ces­sion bat­tle, Mkhize de­clined to say whether or not he would stand for a new term. “Well, I’m still in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, so I will have to wait and hear what the nom­i­na­tions are in­di­cat­ing and we will re­spond then. The ap­proaches will come when the process opens. At that point ev­ery­thing should be pub­lic, as peo­ple will be open about who they will be nom­i­nat­ing,” he said.

Mkhize said the party needed to en­sure that it “cor­rected” or­gan­i­sa­tional prob­lems.

“There are lead­er­ship con­tests, but we need to re­mem­ber that there was an ANC dur­ing, be­fore and af­ter the con­test and that the ANC must sur­vive, not personal in­ter­ests.”

Mkhize has been meet­ing with ANC branches in KwaZu­luNatal to hear their griev­ances and says the prob­lems there – gate­keep­ing, ma­nip­u­la­tion of branches and ma­nip­u­la­tion of pro­cesses – had to be dealt with ahead of con­fer­ence. “We do not want any lin­ger­ing doubts about the pro­cesses. This is a prob­lem we have to deal with through­out the whole coun­try.

“We have spo­ken about peo­ple who utilise lead­er­ship po­si­tions to ma­nip­u­late the struc­tures so that they can get the pre­ferred in­di­vid­u­als into po­si­tions, the use of pa­tron­age. The ANC go­ing into this con­fer­ence must make the most im­por­tant cor­rec­tions to be af­fected so that, go­ing for­ward, we do not alien­ate the mem­ber­ship of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

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