Cape Town - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says party leaders calling for President Jacob Zuma’s removal are in denial about the ANC's problems and are merely looking for scapegoats.
He was speaking at the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union congress on Wednesday, focusing mostly on the party’s challenges before and after last month’s local government elections, in which the ANC had to cede power in three metros to DA-led coalitions. The ANC received 54.4 percent of the vote nationally in the elections, down from 63 percent in 2011.
On Thursday, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande and Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel will address the congress.
On Wednesday, Mantashe said the DA’s victories in the Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities meant the party ruled a swathe of land along the coast from Cape Town, and this was akin to the “recolonisation of the Cape Colony”.
“When we were colonised after every war of resistance, the boundaries shifted. I saw this process of the expansion of the DA from Cape Town to Nelson Mandela as a recolonisation of the Cape Colony.”
He said this was the new reality for the ANC, which had to organise itself to reverse the DA’s gains.
“Liberation movements, when they start losing power, they start losing power in urban centres. That’s why Zanu-PF governs Zimbabwe, but Harare and Bulawayo are controlled by the opposition,” said Mantashe.
While some new ANC mayors had been hasty in acquiring luxury vehicles, Mantashe said the party had convinced them these new acquisitions would only place further distance between themselves and the electorate.
Mantashe said the ANC needed to work on restoring the faith of South Africans in the party, which had been battered by internal squabbles and public spats, which resulted in the public no longer trusting the party.
Two weeks ago, party members, who dubbed themselves #OccupyLuthuliHouse, demanded that Zuma step down, blaming him for the problems which have beset the former liberation movement since he took power in December 2007.
Mantashe said: “The results of those elections brought about the realisation that a liberation movement can be ejected from power.”
He said those blaming Zuma’s Nkandla debacle, the subsequent Constitutional Court judgment and the Guptas for the ANC’s poor performance were in denial.
Mantashe said corruption, looting of state resources and factionalism posed a greater danger to the ANC.
“When the movement is swamped in factionalism, it is the ANC of a group of factions rather than a movement,” said Mantashe, adding that workers were in a good position to save the ANC.
Mantashe criticised ANC veterans, without naming them, who had recently been critical of the party and said they had organised themselves into a faction.
Mantashe said fights over resources had been a source of conflict and split Cosatu, but expressed happiness that Sactwu was among the strongest unions, and had remained part of the labour confederation.
Mantashe said the local government elections took place with the ANC under siege, and that the “regime change movement” was a reality and emanated from outside the party.
“It’s not an imagination of some intellectual discussion, it’s a reality. The definition of regime change is the removal of a democratically elected government from power because it has not been supporting the programme of Western powers,” said Mantashe.
Earlier this year, a probe into allegations of state capture, prompted by complaints against the Guptas by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, ended in a farce, with only one written complaint to Mantashe’s office.
Mantashe told delegates that opposition parties sustained their attacks, and repeated their message of a corrupt ANC.
On the announcement that university fee increases would be capped at 8 percent, Mantashe said those who could afford to pay had to pay. But students called for a scrapping of tuition fees.
On the sidelines after his speech, Mantashe said if he was the Higher Education minister, he would shut down university campuses for six months, and residences for another six months, which he believed would make protesting students more appreciative of their education.