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
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