Man­tashe: it’s do or die for ANC

In­fight­ing big­gest li­a­bil­ity

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - GE­ORGE MATLALA

THE ANC pol­icy con­fer­ence that started to­day is a do-or-die mat­ter for the party that is des­per­ate to re­gain its wan­ing sta­tus as a glo­ri­ous move­ment.

This was the bold ad­mis­sion by ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe yes­ter­day, af­ter stal­warts of the party, on the eve of the five­day event, ditched it.

“It is (a mat­ter of life and death) in a sense that you have an or­gan­i­sa­tion that is go­ing through a very dif­fi­cult pe­riod and you have a pol­icy con­fer­ence.

“You sit with your veter­ans and stal­warts, you quib­ble about the form, rather than the con­tent (of the con­fer­ence),” Man­tashe said in a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with The Star yes­ter­day.

“On the ba­sis of the form, they walk away. That is a re­flec­tion of the health of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and we must be open about things that re­flect di­rectly on the ANC and be able to come up with re­sponses,” he added.

Man­tashe said the big­gest li­a­bil­ity the party faced to­day was in­fight­ing, which started as far back as 2005.

Many ANC mem­bers, he added, re­garded their fac­tions as more im­por­tant than the or­gan­i­sa­tion it­self.

Man­tashe was to­day due to present be­hind closed doors a “di­ag­nos­tic” re­port which will delve into the se­ri­ous prob­lems be­sieg­ing the ANC.

He ad­mit­ted that they had not been able to forge unity among their struc­tures and that they were also grap­pling with en­forc­ing dis­ci­pline.

Most of the prob­lems started in 2005, when branches of the ANC re­volted and pushed for then deputy pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to be re­in­stated, af­ter he was fired by then pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, in the wake of cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

Since then, Man­tashe said, they had strug­gled to unite the frac­tured party.

The sit­u­a­tion was made worse by the loss of tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity at Luthuli House, the ANC’s Joburg head­quar­ters, since they de­ployed their best cadres to the gov­ern­ment af­ter 1994.

“The ca­pac­ity of the ANC was al­most de­stroyed at the point of as­cend­ing to power be­cause when we as­cended to power, we took every­body with con­tent to gov­ern­ment and left the party empty.

“So we are com­ing here with the ANC that has been grap­pling with los­ing ca­pac­ity that is in gov­ern­ment, which is ANC ca­pac­ity,” he said.

“The prob­lem is not in that tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity; the prob­lem is in the po­lit­i­cal divi­sions and fights. This is why, to me, it is quite im­por­tant to trace that from 2005.

“The big­gest li­a­bil­ity to the ANC is the divi­sions of ANC struc­tures where peo­ple be­lieve fac­tions are more im­por­tant than the body it­self,” he added.

Man­tashe re­it­er­ated his stance that the prob­lems be­set­ting the party could not be blamed only on Zuma, and also could not be re­solved by the re­moval of the pres­i­dent.

There were fears that re­spond­ing to calls within and out­side of the or­gan­i­sa­tion to re­move Zuma could lead to a split in the party, sim­i­lar to that of Cope, which was formed af­ter Mbeki was re­called.

Man­tashe said even stal­warts such as An­drew Mlan­geni could not share how to deal with calls for Zuma’s re­moval.

“The only per­son who can deal with that is­sue is Tat’u (An­drew) Mlan­geni, who has been in the ANC since 1945 and served un­der seven dif­fer­ent pres­i­dents.

“There­fore we are build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as we walk on that is­sue.

“When you sit where I am sit­ting, you do an anal­y­sis of what would hap­pen if you re­move a sit­ting pres­i­dent of the ANC, who still has a lot of vis­i­ble sup­port within the body of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“You can take a po­si­tion to be cor­rect in the pub­lic and fire him (Zuma), and hope you will deal with the chaos that will fol­low, or be cau­tious of the pos­si­bil­ity of chaos with that re­moval, which is a re­al­ity. “We have been say­ing let’s man­age this thing more care­fully than be­ing ag­i­tated by con­ve­nience,” he added.

The party would also be go­ing to the con­fer­ence against the back­drop of an ail­ing econ­omy, which threat­ens to de­rail the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan and the fight against un­em­ploy­ment, in­equal­ity and poverty.

Man­tashe said these press­ing is­sues could not wait for the party’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber and would be dealt with in the next few days.

“The fact that we are in re­ces­sion can’t wait for De­cem­ber. The fact that we have been down­graded can’t wait for De­cem­ber. The fact that un­em­ploy­ment has grown can’t wait for De­cem­ber,” he said.

The party’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee and na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had also bat­tled with dis­ci­plin­ing some of its mem­bers.

Man­tashe said that if the party pur­sued dis­ci­pline the way that had been sug­gested, “there would be noth­ing left”.

“Ac­tu­ally, half the time you al­ways blame the in­tegrity com­mis­sion, that it is not do­ing its work.

“I can tell you that peo­ple who have been asked to step aside by that in­tegrity com­mis­sion, that num­ber is too high be­cause it re­flects the health of the or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said.

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma failed to ta­ble a pro­posal by ANC stal­warts for a sep­a­rate con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to con­front the var­i­ous crises fac­ing the ANC.

This was the ac­cu­sa­tion by ANC stal­wart Mur­phy Morobe, ex­plain­ing to The Star why they have de­cided to boy­cott the party’s pol­icy con­fer­ence start­ing to­day in Nas­rec, Joburg.

The stal­warts, among them all re­main­ing mem­bers of those im­pris­oned af­ter the Rivo­nia Trea­son Trial, wanted a con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to dis­cuss what they call the crises plagu­ing the ANC.

The party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) an­nounced ear­lier this year that the first two days of the pol­icy con­fer­ence would be set aside for the con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence the veter­ans had called for.

But there has been a fall­out as the stal­warts wanted the con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to be sep­a­rate from the pol­icy con­fer­ence.

Morobe told The Star they had a meet­ing with the ANC’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee last year, in­form­ing the struc­ture that they wanted a sep­a­rate event.

“We then met with the pres­i­dent and other mem­bers of the Top 5, who wanted us to ex­plain our mo­ti­va­tion for the sep­a­ra­tion of con­fer­ences so that he, the pres­i­dent, could take this back to the NEC. We gave the pres­i­dent our mo­ti­va­tion,” Morobe ex­plained.

“But, from all we have heard, that dis­cus­sion was not taken back to the NEC, which re­stated its po­si­tion that it is not sep­a­rat­ing the con­fer­ence.”

He added that the pol­icy con­fer­ence would have ben­e­fited from a sep­a­rate con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence as key points would have been raised, which would have as­sisted the for­mu­la­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the party’s poli­cies.

“The con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence is a con­fer­ence with a very dif­fer­ent emo­tion; peo­ple will fight there, peo­ple will want to scratch each other’s eyes out. You can’t do that to­day, and then tomorrow you dis­cuss poli­cies nicely,” Morobe said.

He was speak­ing on the side­lines of a brief­ing held by the stal­warts in Joburg yes­ter­day.

The group – which is a struc­ture not recog­nised by the ANC – con­tended in a state­ment that the “ANC is rapidly los­ing the le­git­i­macy and trust of our peo­ple”.

“The longer the cri­sis in our move­ment and coun­try... the deeper the cri­sis will be­come.”

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe told re­porters yes­ter­day that the stal­warts – who were in­vited to the con­fer­ence by the party – were miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity by fail­ing to at­tend.

Man­tashe ac­cused them of try­ing to run the ANC par­al­lel to the party’s NEC, the high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body in the party.

Mean­while, the party’s al­liance part­ners are likely to put on ice calls for Zuma to step down.

SACP spokesper­son Alex Mashilo said: “We are in­vited guests and can only par­tic­i­pate within the pa­ram­e­ters of the gath­er­ing.

“If you are in­vited to a wed­ding, you can­not ar­rive there and say you want to con­duct a funeral,” Mashilo joked.

Cosatu spokesper­son Sizwe Pamla echoed these sen­ti­ments.

“We need to come out of the con­fer­ence feel­ing that the ANC can be trusted to im­ple­ment its poli­cies.

“If the ANC don’t ac­knowl­edge that the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion was a mes­sage from the elec­torate to change, then they are in trou­ble.”

PIC­TURE: KAREN SANDISON

CRUNCH TIME: Flags out­side the hall at the Nas­rec Expo Cen­tre in Joburg where the ANC’s fifth na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence is tak­ing place.

IN HOT SEAT: ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe

NO PRO­POSAL: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

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