Mantashe’s lobbying warning
ANC SG warns delegates not to bring succession battle into policy conference
THE ANC yesterday “cautioned” its branches, structures and alliance partners against sustaining the ructions playing out over the party’s succession battle throughout the course of the governing party’s national policy conference, which kick-starts today.
Briefing journalists at the venue, the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe warned against all forms of lobbying, including the chanting of slogans and songs that could be perceived as divisive when delegates gathered from today onwards.
“This is an opportunity for the organisation to truly caution itself. The biggest threat to the health of the ANC is engaging each other through the lens of the December elective conference because we are disagreeing with each other on who to nominate, therefore that becomes the basis of engagement, where everyone is suspicious of each other,” Mantashe said.
Mantashe’s comments come as ANC branch members and delegates are expected to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma, who is expected to give the opening address.
The gathering also comes against the backdrop of an ANC succession battle that recently kicked into higher gear after the ANC Youth League and MK Veterans Association gave an emphatic nod of approval for former African Union chairperson Nkosazana DlaminiZuma to take over the ANC presidency.
Hot on her heels for the ANC throne is deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been endorsed by Cosatu and Sanco.
Mantashe said that while the ANC was alive to the danger that songs intended to “hurt” party leaders could be sung by delegates, the party would do its best to put a muzzle on all forms of disruptions.
“We can’t out of the blue ban any songs of the president of the ANC but once we manufacture new songs about ourselves.
“Songs of the movement that are there will be sung but we want songs to be sung to unite, not to hurt.”
Mantashe also warned that disruptions, heckling and booing would receive zero tolerance.
“If you’re trying to lure the ANC into adventurism or populism, we are cautioning ourselves against it by saying we must discuss policies of the ANC. That will guide us in running the conference so those who come to test the balance of forces are free do so but I wonder how will they do it because if you just come here and howl, you end up outside of the conference. We will not allow that.
“People must debate the policies of the ANC, we won’t allow people to intimidate each other, we want people to persuade each other,” Mantashe also confirmed that the party’s stalwarts and veterans, who are signatories of the For the Sake of our Future document as well as the MK Council, would not be in attendance.
Despite this, he said the conference would go ahead as planned.
“They took a decision not to come. MK veterans took a decision not to come. They are not real structures of the ANC but cadres of the movement to come together to express their collective conference and we took a decision to tolerate that.”
TAKING STOCK: ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, left and spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, right, speak to the media on the party’s policy conference, starting in Johannesburg today, warning delegates to conduct themselves in a manner which will not disrupt the gathering .