CYRIL WINS ROUND 1

Sup­port­ers of the deputy pres­i­dent have en­sured that a scathing re­port about the ANC’s prob­lems is tabled at the Na­tional Pol­icy Con­fer­ence

CityPress - - Front Page - SETUMO STONE and ANDISIWE MAKINANA news@city­press.co.za

Sup­port­ers of for­mer African Union Com­mis­sion head and pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were hu­mil­i­ated on Fri­day, the first day of the party’s Na­tional Pol­icy Con­fer­ence, when the back­ers of Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa de­feated an un­ex­pected bid to pre­vent the tabling and pre­sen­ta­tion of a scathing di­ag­nos­tics re­port on the party’s prob­lems. An in­tense dis­cus­sion broke out in the con­fer­ence ple­nary on Fri­day as Dlamini-Zuma’s camp sought to flex its mus­cles by en­sur­ing that ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe would be barred from de­liv­er­ing a 10-page or­gan­i­sa­tional di­ag­nos­tics re­port, which placed much of the ANC’s prob­lems on Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s doorstep.

Man­tashe’s re­port went into spe­cific ANC prob­lems, in­clud­ing: The role of the Gup­tas; The Cabi­net reshuf­fle; The leaked emails; and The Nkandla scan­dal. The dis­cus­sion turned out to be a proxy for the ANC’s suc­ces­sion race as those back­ing Zuma and his pre­ferred suc­ces­sor, Dlamini-Zuma, aligned them­selves with the view that the pre­sen­ta­tion be quashed, City Press heard.

Al­though the re­port was al­lowed in the ple­nary dis­cus­sions, a fight-back against it was ex­pected at the break­away com­mis­sions.

City Press was made aware of a mes­sage sent by North West ANC chair­per­son Supra Mahumapelo to his del­e­gates, who were go­ing into com­mis­sions. The mes­sage read: “The po­si­tion of our prov­ince is that the di­ag­no­sis must be done by the branches be­cause the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) can­not diagnose it­self ... and that this be done as part of branch dis­cus­sions to­wards na­tional con­fer­ence.”

Si­fiso Mtsweni, the re­cently ap­pointed chair­per­son of the Na­tional Youth De­vel­op­ment Agency, led the ANC Youth League’s charge to scrap the re­port.

At one point, ANC na­tional chair­per­son Baleka Mbete rep­ri­manded him, say­ing: “You are try­ing to make a joke of this con­fer­ence.”

Zuma’s back­ers claimed that the re­port em­anated from con­cerns raised by the party’s anti-Zuma stal­warts and vet­er­ans – and that since said vet­er­ans had boy­cotted the con­fer­ence, it was un­nec­es­sary for Man­tashe to pro­ceed.

The Zuma bloc also ques­tioned Man­tashe’s re­liance on the SA Coun­cil of Churches’ re­port on state cap­ture, re­leased in May. In it, the coun­cil warns that South Africa is turn­ing into a “mafia state” as a re­sult of Zuma’s friend­ship with the con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily.

Al­though he has tried hard to por­tray neu­tral­ity, Man­tashe has been as­so­ci­ated with the cam­paign for Ramaphosa to take over from Zuma.

Cu­ri­ously, the ANC’s Mpumalanga branch started the de­bate on Man­tashe’s re­port, but in the end it was pre­mier and pro­vin­cial chair­per­son David Mabuza who de­clared that the prov­ince was not averse to the pre­sen­ta­tion be­ing tabled. This to-and-fro dis­played by the Mpumalanga fac­tion has been de­scribed by Zuma loy­al­ists as an at­tempt to test the wa­ters ahead of the ANC’s Na­tional Elec­tive Con­fer­ence, set to take place in De­cem­ber, dur­ing which Zuma is ex­pected to step down. But their op­po­nents have claimed an early psy­cho­log­i­cal vic­tory. City Press heard that dur­ing the heated dis­cus­sion, ANC Gaut­eng sec­re­tary Hope Papo was among the first to take the fight back to the Zuma group. Other prov­inces, such as North­ern Cape, East­ern Cape and West­ern Cape, seen to be sym­pa­thetic to Ramaphosa, also stuck to their guns and dis­missed the pro­posal. How­ever, their coun­ter­parts from the North West and Free State dis­agreed. They were sup­ported by the ANC youth and women’s leagues, each of which was al­lowed to bring al­most dou­ble the num­ber of del­e­gates (64) per­mit­ted to at­tend the con­fer­ence in a bid to “broaden the de­bate”.

Lim­popo pre­mier and ANC pro­vin­cial chair Stan Matha­batha af­firmed Man­tashe’s re­port, but was con­tra­dicted by pro­vin­cial youth league sec­re­tary David “Che” Se­lane be­fore he was shouted down and told that he did not rep­re­sent the pro­vin­cial ANC, said an in­sider.

Matha­batha’s ar­gu­ments won the day for those who wanted the re­port tabled. “Stan said the re­port was drafted and ap­proved by the NEC for pre­sen­ta­tion to the con­fer­ence. Any re­port ap­proved by the NEC for con­fer­ence will be tabled,” said the in­sider.

Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor and De­fence Min­is­ter No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula were al­legedly among those who pushed for the re­port to be tabled. “But it was af­ter Stan spoke that [Mabuza] stood up and said he was with­draw­ing the pro­posal,” said a del­e­gate.

Sihle Zikalala, the ANC chair in KwaZulu-Natal, which tops the ANC in terms of membership, was heard telling the ple­nary that the prov­ince did not mind whether the pre­sen­ta­tion went ahead or not. Both sides claim to have had the up­per hand. “We clob­bered them,” said a pro-Ramaphosa del­e­gate from Lim­popo, sup­ported by an­other from the North West.

How­ever, a Gaut­eng del­e­gate said the Dlamini-Zuma camp out­classed its op­po­nents.

Man­tashe fi­nally spoke. He be­gan by jok­ing that he was from a fam­ily of spir­i­tu­ally gifted peo­ple, and had there­fore “fore­seen” the de­bate that had just hap­pened. This was why he had pref­aced the re­port with a quote from OR Tambo, which in­cludes this sen­tence: “We were al­ways ready to ac­cept our mis­takes and to cor­rect them.”

Later, at the me­dia brief­ing, he said del­e­gates had even­tu­ally “warmed” to the re­port, adding that it was not too dif­fer­ent from Zuma’s po­lit­i­cal overview. He said his and the pres­i­dent’s pre­sen­ta­tions “over­lapped” and that both were dis­cussed at the spe­cial pre-con­fer­ence NEC meet­ing that was held on Tues­day.

But un­like Zuma, Man­tashe went into specifics about the ANC’s prob­lems, in­clud­ing tack­ling is­sues such as the Gup­tas and the leaked emails, the Cabi­net reshuf­fles and Nkandla. He also said it would be fool­ish to ig­nore the re­port by the coun­cil of churches.

Man­tashe’s re­port blamed the ANC’s elec­toral de­cline since 2005 on the grow­ing trust deficit be­tween the peo­ple and [the ANC], on a lack of ethics, on the per­cep­tion that the ANC was entirely cor­rupt, and on the col­lapse of or­gan­i­sa­tional dis­ci­pline.

“An­other de­fence that has been bandied about is the one that coun­ter­poses the be­hav­iour of this fam­ily [the Gup­tas] to white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal. White mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal is in­vented as if it is a new phe­nom­e­non, in­stead of af­firm­ing that its defeat is at the heart of the rev­o­lu­tion,” said Man­tashe in the re­port.

On the ANC’s fail­ure to be so­lu­tionori­en­tated, he said: “One good ex­am­ple is the Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment on Nkandla. The judg­ment is, in fact, the con­clu­sion we came to more than three years ear­lier. “How­ever, be­cause it was per­ceived to be an at­tempt by some as try­ing to trap [Zuma] into an ad­mis­sion of guilt, no firm de­ci­sion could be taken.” More than 3 700 ANC branch del­e­gates from the coun­try’s nine prov­inces, as well as the youth and women’s leagues, are at­tend­ing the pol­icy con­fer­ence, which is sched­uled to con­tinue un­til Wed­nes­day as the ANC re­fines its gov­ern­ment poli­cies and comes up with new pro­pos­als for the next five years. Satur­day was quiet com­pared with Fri­day, with a fo­cus on the strat­egy and tac­tics doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted by Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa and the or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted by Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula.

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

Gwede Man­tashe

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