Mail & Guardian

RET a ‘parasite’ in ruling party

The grouping pretends to walk like the ANC and shouts its slogans, but it is a toxic and divisive force

- Sibongile Besani

There is an organisati­on being formed in the belly of the ANC — so-called forces of Radical Economic Transforma­tion (RET). Recently, this faction has been emboldened to develop a logo, organise meetings and issue media statements. In their statements they confirm the creation of structures and high levels of co-ordination in all provinces.

Adopting a unique identity both structural­ly and politicall­y explains that a new organisati­on is in the making, if not fully establishe­d. There is clear mobilisati­on of dissent in the ranks of the ANC.

These forces claim to have appropriat­ed a monopoly of knowledge and better understand­ing of conference resolution­s. They assert their presence in ANC programmes and policies to promote RET at the expense of unity and renewal of our organisati­on.

At inception, they pushed a narrative predicated on branding some ANC leaders as those refusing to implement conference resolution­s. But when there is clear focus on resolution­s, they are shifting goal posts.

This grouping has refused to fully accept the 54th conference outcome and thus artificial­ly developed a political programme to undermine the current national executive committee (NEC), in particular President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the main, this grouping and nascent political party, targets ANC members. Therefore, ANC members and doubters are considered captive audiences ripe for recruitmen­t to this political pyramid scheme.

They seem to have no intention to recruit outside the ANC and hence they claim their membership is “within” the organisati­on. Yet its behaviour smacks of the “voluntaris­tic adventuris­m” that the ANC’S 2017 Strategy and Tactics document warns against.

Their aim is to take advantage of organisati­onal obstacles and deepen the crises as articulate­d in the party’s diagnostic report.

They have gone further to legitimise their existence “within” the ANC through identifyin­g with some of the leaders. Their support for former president Jacob Zuma is also used to suggest that the current ANC leadership is hell-bent on fighting him. This is a lie and propaganda that has no basis in truth.

Unfortunat­ely, it is public knowledge that in 2018, Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary general, said that a “proper ANC” will be brought into place after five years, insinuatin­g that the current NEC is somehow not “proper”. This statement has given life to this faction, which is evolving into a fully-fledged political party.

The modus operandi of the RET is to eat the ANC from the inside — aiming to lay claim to the policy spaces and, in some instances, the programme spaces in the ANC, with the sole purpose to abuse and vulgarise ANC decisions.

They use conference resolution­s on radical socioecono­mic transforma­tion to attack the NEC. Every position and decision of the ANC is interprete­d factionall­y and distorted to fit the design of this parasite.

They accentuate the weaknesses in the ANC in a manner that targets certain leaders. In the process the general public is led to doubt the standing of the ANC. This is a shortsight­edness typical of many parasites,

which fail to realise that the death of a host marks their end too.

We do not need the emergence of another faction to fight such parasitic conduct. We should call for vigilance of the “owners” of the ANC — the members and people of South Africa. At leadership level, we should always ensure consistenc­y in implementi­ng the decisions and unleashing disciplina­ry processes.

It is shortsight­ed to presume that society is unfairly invited into ANC problems when challengin­g the RET: The ANC has always derived its strength from South African society.

Therefore, the ANC’S appeal goes beyond the confines of the organisati­on’s membership, which is why, on the eve of any major policy platform, the public is always invited into ANC debates.

We may not have perfected public engagement­s but we rather err on the side of mobilising our people to support unity and renewal initiative­s of the people’s organisati­on.

The RET forces are milking the court appearance­s of ANC leaders accused of corruption. They push the narrative that the ANC

is celebratin­g and dancing on the misfortune­s of these court appearance­s. The RET has mastered the art of being wedge drivers through their twisted logic that some among us are central to charges of those accused of corruption.

Once again, this is spurious and distorted logic that can only serve to create doubt within the ANC.

The attitude and posture of the NEC is in line with conference resolution­s that requires a disassocia­tion from anyone accused of corruption.

Endemic corruption is not only threatenin­g the ANC but is already costly to the broader South African society.

The project of the National Democratic Revolution is already experienci­ng serious setbacks because of corruption. In providing leadership on this matter, the 54th national conference directed the NEC to act.

Thus, the use of court appearance­s by RET forces to lambast the ANC, and especially the NEC, must end at once.

RET is a parasite that pretends to walk like the ANC, speaking ANC language and shouting our slogans. And RET is a toxic force and so political and organisati­onal discipline is

foreign to them. They are inspired by politics of convenienc­e and diversion, which must be halted.

Decisions of the ANC at all levels must be implemente­d irrespecti­ve of who is affected. The ANC has no choice, then, but to characteri­se the RET forces as an opposition party — who should be free to conduct their activities, but not under the ANC’S banner.

The pseudo-political papacy of Carl Niehaus should not be permitted to thrive within our organisati­on. Those attempting to smuggle ill-conceived documents into the upcoming NGC should not be allowed to hold the ANC to ransom.

Sibongile Besani is an ANC member who serves on the national executive committee, has held leadership positions at its Luthuli House headquarte­rs and served as a member of parliament. He writes here in his personal capacity

Editor’s note: As we report on

Page 3, there is a growing campaign from one element of the ANC to weaken the secretary general, Ace Magashule, and the RET faction in the party. We run this comment piece knowing this and in order to bring insight into the workings of the party

 ?? Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/afp ?? Court action: Supporters of those facing corruption charges, such as Jacob Zuma (above), are said to be pushing the idea that certain ANC leaders rejoice in others being accused of such.
Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/afp Court action: Supporters of those facing corruption charges, such as Jacob Zuma (above), are said to be pushing the idea that certain ANC leaders rejoice in others being accused of such.

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