Netshitenzhe lays out why the ANC got captured
This was the view of Joel Netshitenzhe, ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, as he gave a brutal and honest assessment of the crisis facing the governing party. He was speaking on Saturday during the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) council in Joburg which coincided with the 55th anniversary of the ANC’s military wing.
The council happened as the party braces itself for what is expected to be a stormy race to succeed Jacob Zuma next year as party president.
Netshitenzhe said while South Africa, unlike other African states post-liberation, might not experience a coup, the ANC faced the grim prospect of losing the elections in 2019.
He said the ANC might have to follow the example of other parties in the world that have resorted to evaluating their leaders in the face of dwindling support and competition.
The council was attended by several high-profile ANC leaders, including Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe. President Jacob Zuma did not attend but sent a message of support. He was in KwaZulu-Natal attending the Jacob G Zuma Foundation soccer tournament held in Eshowe.
Weighing in on the issue of ANC decline, another party heavyweight Siphiwe Nyanda said the ANC could ignore “warning signs” at its peril if the recent local government elections were anything to go by.
The MK veterans said the main objective of their gathering was to assess the state of the party, especially after its poor performance in the August 3 local government elections.
Nyanda warned that the ANC faced the prospect of dying if their intervention was ignored. The veterans made it clear the meeting was not convened to discuss individuals but to seek solutions to the ANC’s problems.
“We therefore cannot ignore the warning signs It is up to the ANC to arrest this decline and this rot. It is incumbent upon us to help the ANC to do so,” said Nyanda, a member of the MK Vets’ steering committee.
“We may therefore be ignored and our efforts may be resisted and subverted and those who pursue a path that will lead us to ruin may prevail. If they do, the ANC will surely die.
“But let it not be said that the ANC died without us trying to keep it alive and to bring it back to its former glory. Let history record that we, veterans of MK, tried to prevail but failed.”
Netshitenzhe said other parties subjected leaders to vetting, among other things, to protect the political and ideological integrity of a political party. “If you don’t do that you easily get captured.”
“Some have raised the question whether we should, in fact, have ultra-democracy in the ANC. If anyone with a minor qualification can stand, branches get bought, and this can happen with monies getting stolen and you have voting cattle in ANC conferences. Anyone can take over the ANC”
He also warned against the abuse of state security agencies, which he said was a result of political leaders and their governments losing legitimacy because of corruption. He said there was a growing trend among leaders that, whenever they faced a revolt from disgruntled citizens because of their abuse of power and state resources, they resorted to unleashing the state security agencies on them.
“The danger is that when the social tinder threatens to catch fire, manifests (itself) in various ways the security agencies can then become the first and the last line of defence. We end up depending on the security forces rather than on social delivery, on exercising our authority and legitimacy,” Netshitenzhe said.
The government has been accused of using state agencies such as the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority to fight ANC factional battles and advancing personal interests.
More recently, NPA head Shaun Abrahams has been accused of using the Hawks for political reasons after he announced that fraud charges had been laid against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, in what was seen as political persecution against the minister for trying to protect the Treasury.
Netshitenzhe said corruption was a reality and warned against the self-destructive tendencies within the ANC.
“From the strange things that are happening at Sars (the SA Revenue Service), the Hawks, NPA, Denel and so on, a cabinet statement released by a minister which never was, all these tell us that the beneficiaries of corruption and state capture will not give up without a fight,” he said, to rousing applause.
He said while the ANC had always been able to give people hope in the face of inequality, such hope could easily be eroded if the government was seen as corrupt and therefore illegitimate.
“Indeed hope was one of the things that sustained us in the ANC. But if we start to perform poorly, court judgments, reports of the public protector, the manifestations of corruption hit our people in the face,” he said, citing the Nkandla upgrades, among others.
“Those funds were taken from a programme in the Department of Public Works that was supposed to deal with dolomite in Gauteng and inner-city rejuvenation in Johannesburg. So it was money meant for the poor.
“And so when we say we need to get rid of corruption, it’s not only about the theory and about the fact that it challenges sense and sensibility, and morality and ethics of the ANC, it’s also because of the impact it has on the mass of our people.”
The ANC recently came under attack from civil society organisations and some of its leaders, including those in government, for controversies around Zuma’s administration.Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the ANC needed to manage its factions. He said the party’s succession battle is already dirty and under way. “There’s something interesting and quite strange about this succession campaign. It’s so intertwined with Zuma’s survival,” Mathekga said.
“Never before has the election of the next president depended so much on the survival of the current one.”
Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, has already indicated his intention to enter the race. He is expected to come up against Zuma’s former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, in what is expected to be the most bruising battle for the party’s presidency since the Polokwane conference, which saw Zuma score a landslide victory against Thabo Mbeki.
The Sunday Independent