He was speaking on Friday night during a fund-raising dinner held by the Krishna Rabilal Foundation, an organisation named after the late former Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant.
Rabilal was one of 12 MK combatants killed in the Matola raid in Mozambique in 1981.
Jonas, who blew the whistle on the politically-linked Gupta family allegedly having a hand in the appointment of cabinet ministers, said the ANC was lurching from one disaster to the next.
“There is erosion of the capacity of our political leadership. Everywhere you go a story is told of seasoned leaders that have been marginalised by factionalism, leading to loss of broader support that these people bring to our movement.”
Instead, he said, inexperienced “cadres” were often deployed to key positions as a reward for factional support.
Jonas said this not only affected the ANC “but has become a crisis for all of us; it has become a crisis for society”. “The movement is engulfed by crisis and irreparably divided,” he said.
Jonas stood in for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at the event. Gordhan was preparing for a post-budget roadshow in the UK and US in a bid to stave off rating agencies which are expected to make a decision on South Africa’s sovereign credit rating on April 7.
State capacity continued to be eroded with deployment taking place on the basis of factional loyalty, while political factional fights affected organs of state, Jonas said.
“The government is undermined and service delivery paralysed because of this problem.”
Speculation has been rife that President Jacob Zuma was planning to remove Gordhan and Jonas from National Treasury, a claim that the Presidency has denied.
Jonas said the “short-term approach” by the government was a recipe for disaster.
“Every politician thinks about the next five years and it’s worse when, in some instances, we only think about next week.”
Referring to the all-important ANC national elective conference due to take place in December, he said: “We are thinking about what is going to happen in December and when we jump that hurdle we are going to think about what is going to happening in 2019.”
The ethos of the public sector was on the decline, he added. “This shakes the foundation of our delivery system.”