The organisational report to be presented to the 53rd national conference of the ANC heeds the call of Amilcar Cabral against triumphalism: “Hide nothing from the masses of our people, tell no lies… mask no difficulties, mistakes and failures, claim no easy victories.”
The organisation is now more united, more stable and a foundation has been laid for building a much stronger and militant organisation.
A lot of work has been done over the last five years but much more needs to be done to poise the ANC to fight the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
At this conference the ANC will consider the report in reviewing the life and work of the organisation since the watershed Polokwane conference. We must admit that that conference was highly divided and immediately presented the organisation with the huge task of unity.
Before this could be achieved the ANC had to deal with the issue of charges against its president, Jacob Zuma, the recall of the president of the country, Thabo Mbeki, and the formation of a breakaway Cope largely made up of disgruntled ANC leaders and members.
These three challenges tested the organisation highly and defined some of our interventions over the last five years. The irony, however, was that the formation of Cope galvanised the ANC membership with people rising to defend the ANC and ensuring victory at the polls both at the national level as well as at provincial and local levels subsequently.
This threat of Cope rising, has since diminished if the local government elections are anything to go by. In these elections the ANC showed growth in all provinces except the Northern Cape.
If we were to summarise the last five years in a few themes the following come to mind: organisational revival; revolutionary discipline and focus of economic and social transformation.
Highlights within these themes will give us a sense of what has been achieved and where the challenges still lie. The conference will be given full details to deliberate on and to adopt the way forward.
On revival, the organisation can be proud of its achievements in the staggering growth of membership to almost 1.2 million, underlining the fact that so many of our people continue to have hope and trust in the movement.
This membership growth has been translated also into a support base that saw the ANC win convincingly the national elections in 2009 and the local government elections in 2011.
Internally the ANC is more stable than it was five years ago with more of its structures operational and effective.
The challenge that remains is to keep the membership motivated in between election campaigns through the activation of proper branch work and political education – something that the national executive committee (NEC) paid particular attention to and recommends that it be taken even more seriously by the upcoming NEC while still fresh in office.
The NEC did relatively well under the most challenging circumstances.
The weaknesses that speak to the organisational revival will need to be addressed. Among these is the consistency of participation by NEC members as well as the consistency of work by NEC sub-committees.
These if not attended to may become the weak link, especially where NEC has to give and oversee mandates to its deployed cadres in various parts of society.
On organisational discipline, the last five years highlighted the need for revolutionary discipline in the ANC. This is a key tenet of belonging to an organisation.
Tendencies that have emerged where members speak or address others in a rude and unbecoming way have taken root in the organisation and have subsequently jolted the NEC to act.
Symptoms of decline in discipline were the total chaos of some conferences of the leagues and some provinces such as the North West and Western Cape where conduct unbecoming of ANC members was experienced. This attracted negative publicity and destroying good work done over many years in making the ANC attractive to communities other than our traditional base.
The unacceptable disruption of the ANC centenary lectures in both the Western Cape and Limpopo were among the shameful moments that we don’t want to remember as we look back.
These are issues that the ANC must confront in order to safeguard the sanctity, traditions and future of our movement.
The conference will be called upon to adopt the approach that ill-discipline can only be stopped if there are tough consequences for deviant behaviour.
On leadership at work, the last conference gave the NEC a mandate to ensure that there is an integrated approach to national economic planning, so that there is a high level of integration in government efforts to address economic development.
In this regard a national planning commission led by the Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has produced a national development plan. Delegates will be asked to adopt this plan as an effective way to sew together a common vision for South Africa.
The NEC over the last five years has had to deal with a massive offensive against the movement in the shape of an attempt to de-legitimise the ANC and the national democratic revolution.
The theme of this offensive is that nothing has happened since 1994, and more crudely, that things used to be better under apartheid.
Unfortunately this offensive is also fuelled by pronouncements by ANC members and leaders in attacking each other in public.
Such conduct among leaders portrays the ANC as an organisation in crisis, that can be saved only by those who subscribe to the notion that the ANC is in crisis and anyone who disputes this notion is labelled as being in denial.
It is our belief that there is more value in engaging each other in structures of the ANC than contesting each other in public.
This does not mean that members cannot engage in the battle of ideas to enrich public discourse. In this report and having assessed what has happened in this regard we are calling on ANC cadres to avoid at all instances hurting and bleeding the ANC.
The ANC as a leadership must own up to both failures and success of our term of office and avoid reducing failures to individuals.
The economy is at the heart of our assessment of our success or failure.
The report acknowledges that there are three crucial areas where there has been little progress: These are the issue of support to small, medium and micro enterprises, the proper leadership of state-owned enterprises, as well as a strategic leadership of the developing finance institutions that are more often than not left to the shareholder departments with little attention paid by the NEC and its subcommittees.
The ANC has to introduce a multi-dimensional strategy to address youth unemployment in particular.
The ANC is determined to move beyond fighting for concepts such as the youth employment subsidy, and rather implement a programme that will make a dent in youth unemployment. We must remember the adage that “development is an irrefutable argument”.
The assessment of our work over the last five years also includes strides and challenges in many other areas of South African life, such as health and education.
The fight against corruption and a range of developments in societal transformation and international relations have also received huge attention.
The report has made a crucial assessment in this regard and will give all of the 16 commissions by conference delegates a framework to emerge with a clear programme of action to guide the new leadership that will be elected in Mangaung.
At the end of the day it’s worth recalling what the ANC said in Polokwane in recognition of this centenary year: “The ANC must continue to strive to be the moral, intellectual and political leader of our people and put in place mechanisms to vigorously combat negative tendencies occasioned by being the ruling party.”
To do this we cannot claim easy victories and we need to have the ability to hide no challenges as we reflect on the last 100 years and prepare for the next centenary.
n This article is based on the organisational report that Mantashe will present to the ANC’s 53rd national conference starting today. The full report will be available this evening on www.anc.org.za