Former president Thabo Mbeki has urged the ANC to speed up its process of renewal so that it would clean up its membership and get rid of corrupt individuals in the party.
He said the ANC has over the years acknowledged that there were people who joined it to access resources.
These were the people who did not even know the values of the ANC.
But they joined it to access funds and resources. They also became involved in corruption.
He said even late former president Nelson Mandela had identified this problem as far back as 1997 at the Mafikeng national conference where he said there were people joining the ANC in order to steal from government.
He said that 20 years later, former ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had said the same thing when he delivered his diagnostic report at the Nasrec conference in 2017.
He said the ANC needed quality membership and this was part of the renewal process.
Lenin had, over a century ago, said it was better to have fewer members but good quality members.
Mbeki said the ANC had over one million members and it did not need all those members.
It was better to have good quality members who would serve the party with honesty, integrity and values as espoused in its documents.
The ANC would regain the trust of communities if it went back with a clean image by having quality membership.
Over the years the ANC had been getting people who had ulterior motives and were involved in corruption and accessing resources, Mbeki said.
“If you look at ANC documents from 1997 to 2017 they all say the same thing, which is that the quality of membership of the ANC is deteriorating. Therefore, you are accumulating within the ranks of the ANC people who are bound to do wrong things. They join the ANC in order to steal and they will steal. You can speak a million times about ending corruption. They won’t end corruption, they will continue to be corrupt,” said Mbeki.
“The ANC says it has got a membership of a million plus. Why it needs so many members I don’t know because it does not. Hence, this slogan we borrowed from Lenin, when Lenin talks about something different when the Soviet Union was born he used the phrase ‘better fewer but better’. Let us have fewer than a million, but better people who are true members of the ANC. That would have a very serious impact on this matter of corruption, in combating corruption, to deal with these people within the ranks of the ANC who are in the ANC for wrong reasons. I am saying better fewer but better,” said Mbeki.
The ANC had at its previous conference set up a renewal commission to deal with this issue.
Mbeki said for the ANC to regain its credibility it would have to go back to communities and talk about these issues and be led by honest people with integrity from branches.
People cannot join the party in order to gain access to resources and be involved in corruption, he said.