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Public representatives of the ANC were given their “marching orders” by the party’s top brass at its weekend caucus, held at Parliament in Cape Town, as the party continued its process of getting members into line.
The party also took the time to give its MPs a refresher course on the ANC resolutions and policies made at its December conference in Mangaung.
The lekgotla was attended by the ANC’s 300 members of Parliament in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
It was addressed by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, chief whip Mathole Motsheka, National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu and National Council of Provinces chairman Mninwa Mahlangu.
Mantashe read the riot act as he re-emphasised the need for discipline, especially by those in Parliament.
“The apparent collapse of discipline in Parliament must be interrogated. We are dealing with similar collapse of discipline in a number of ANC-controlled municipalities. Can we depend on parliamentarians to help the ANC deal with this reality at municipal level, if parliamentarians themselves are in the same state of disorganisation and ill-discipline?” asked Mantashe.
He said the perception that ANC leaders and public representatives were corrupt and soft on corruption needed attention.
The integrity commission that was meant to be established within three months of the conference would address these concerns, Mantashe added.
“We should therefore keep our eyes on crime and corruption. We cannot continue to be defensive every time one of us is accused of improper conduct.”
Mantashe also touched on BEE, saying it had “benefited a few and created some multi-millionaires” and had begun to deracialise wealth distribution. “But this has not gone far enough to change power relations in the economy and production relations in the workplace.”
Motshekga told the Sunday Tribune during a break in proceedings that the party was an organisation that functioned on the basis of mandates.
Chief whips would wield more power after it was resolved the offices of all the chief whips “should be the centre of decision-making and should be appropriately resourced”.
Motshekga also reminded MPs that the resolutions of the 53rd Conference noted the challenges facing the legislatures regarding “being more activist and developmental”.
“We have had processes in the organisation starting with the national general council, the policy conference and the national conference. We had the January 8 statement and the government and national executive committee lekgotla, which generated marching orders for all public representatives.
“We have come here to say what these marching orders are and to ensure that we have a common understanding of them.”
He had unkind words for the opposition regarding its intention to retable a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
He described this, and the coalition talks between opposition parties to weaken the ANC’s strength, as a “frantic step”.
“In the last few months we have witnessed the formation of an unholy alliance among a number of opposition parties, supposedly with a view to strengthen and consolidate parliamentary opposition against the majority party.”
Although members engaged on a number of sometimes contentious issues, there were no reports of any drama at meetings, where the delegates were less bashful.
The debates were described as “robust and fearless” by one member, who added that they were “well attended and disciplined”.
MPs were given strict orders to attend and had to provide good reasons not to, which had to be approved by the chief whip.
“We are an organisation that believes in engagement. We have to make sure that there’s engagement in these policies, which is why we afford our members an opportunity to make an input. The marching orders have come from those processes. As legislatures we now need to go and implement,” said Motshekga. - Sunday Tribune