Sunday World (South Africa)

The use of money to buy votes is killing the ANC

Nominees must prove their worth

- Mmamoloko Kubayi • Kubayi is an ANC NEC member and chairperso­n of the ETC subcommitt­ee

There is a long-held tradition in the ANC that prohibits leaders from promoting themselves to be elected into leadership positions. This tradition was recently reaffirmed by former president Thabo Mbeki at Mama Rita Ndzanga’s memorial service, where he rebuked this type of conduct.

Mbeki described this behaviour as foreign to the liberation movement as he referred to such individual­s as “abo Ndikhethen­i”, which means “choose me”.

ANC forebears were visionarie­s who wanted to ensure that our organisati­on could rid itself of members who were self-centred and particular­ly preoccupie­d on the self rather than the interests of society. They wanted membership and society to choose leaders based on character, quality, moral standing and what they had to offer the organisati­on.

This tradition was premised on the understand­ing and belief that the organisati­onal membership will be free from manipulati­on and will at all times express themselves freely and openly on their leadership choices.

Unfortunat­ely, this is no longer the case.

The diagnostic report of the previous secretary-general presented at the 2017 policy conference observed that “the use of money to buy votes for elections in the party is at the heart of the decline of the quality of structures across the board. Money has replaced consciousn­ess as a basis for being elected to leadership positions at all levels of the organisati­on.”

In many instances, ANC branch members no longer elect leaders on the basis of character, quality, ethical and moral standing in society. The question is how do we use the current rules, guidelines and constituti­on to ensure that the branches and members of the ANC are able to elect the right leaders? The guidelines for the forthcomin­g 2022 national conference leadership election provide, in my view, a framework through which members vying for leadership positions can be assessed whether they meet certain basic minimum requiremen­ts to be elected for leadership positions.

The call for renewal of the organisati­on, which the election of good leadership is an essential part, is a response to the organisati­onal decay and loss of trust between the ANC and the population. If we are serious about correcting our ways and doing what society expects of the ANC, we have to ensure that those who are nominated for top six positions have the moral standing and competence to respond effectivel­y to the challenges faced by the country: mainly poverty, unemployme­nt and inequality.

These triple societal challenges affect the majority of members of the ANC in so far as they are also members of society. Similarly, the challenge of gender-based violence faced by women in this country affects women in the ANC too. Just as society is concerned about these challenges, the ANC members must be preoccupie­d with resolving these challenges. This, in my view, calls for every individual who has raised their hand to be elected for a leadership position to be scrutinise­d as an individual.

I believe ANC members must ask the question of what the individual vying for political office can bring to bear on the efforts of helping the organisati­on resolve the challenges this country is facing.

Arising from this is also the question of how will the ANC members be able to determine the character, competence and ideologica­l orientatio­n of those who have availed themselves for leadership positions if they do not get an opportunit­y to interact or listen to them? It is, therefore, only logical that, as per the guidelines, the candidates get to answer questions on various issues affecting our country in writing or through debate.

The call for a debate among candidates must be embraced so that all candidates are properly scrutinise­d by the entire membership of the ANC and society in general. Such a debate would just be an additional step towards improving the processes of selecting and electing good and capable leaders.

The oath we all take when joining the ANC emphasises the point that members should use their skills and all acquired knowledge to further the interests of the ANC and by extension society’s interests. A debate among candidates will provide ANC members the opportunit­y to assess which candidates are better prepared to fulfil this part of the ANC oath.

This will also provide members a window to assess which candidates are better prepared to put the organisati­on on the path to recovery and will also eschew the election of populists who will not assist in the organisati­onal renewal. This, I believe, will help bring transparen­cy and fairness to the leadership election process.

It is a process which will also bode well in the eyes of the public as a true indication of renewal and rebuilding of the ANC. As we await branches to make their wishes known, we must call for an open debate among those who have been nominated on how they intend to help the ANC to deal with societal challenges, which include economic growth, poverty, unemployme­nt, inequality and gender-based violence.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa