Johannesburg - South Africans no longer trust the African National Congress, seen as corrupt and its leaders aloof and arrogant, the party's latest organisational report shows.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe presented the report at a closed session of the ANC national policy conference now under way in Johannesburg before briefing journalists late on Friday. The report diagnoses the troubled governing party.
The 10-page document paints a bleak picture of declining party support, low level of trust among ANC members, lack of discipline, failure to focus on agreed solutions, internal divisions, and factionalism. The ''trust deficit'' is self inflicted, it says. ''We must ask if the growing trust deficit is part of the general decline of legitimacy of the political and business elite or not. It is our view that this general trend is part of the problem, but one accelerated by our own behaviour.''
The ANC's own research shows that in the run up to the fiercely contested local government elections last year, less than 50 percent of the population was positive about the direction the country was taking. According to the report, issues such as unemployment, corruption, and crime are a great concern, ahead of basic service delivery.
On the party elite, viewed as generally corrupt, the ANC and government leaders are reminded in the report that they have no private life and all their actions attract attention from society. ''When an ANC leader falls sick or receives an award, that constitutes a subject of talk shows and public discussions. Mistakes committed at government level affect the ANC directly, and the organisation cannot claim not to be involved.''
The state capture allegations are a prominent example, as the influence of the wealthy and controversial politically connected Gupta family on affairs of state has become a ''subject of household discussions''. ''It is indeed correct to state that the Guptas can do business anytime and anywhere with whomever. However, their relationship with the families of prominent leaders attract people's attention. When there are benefits that accrue to families of the leadership, it is assumed to be corrupt in that the political leaders are supposed to have facilitated the accrual of the benefits.''
Instead of dealing with the crisis issues facing the ANC, such as the Nkandla debacle and the state capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, ''a defence was developed''. A narrative was also developed ''to link any discomfort with the influence of the Gupta family to the regime change agenda''. ''Linking regime change to state capture reflects the decline in our analytical capacity. The series of [leaked Gupta] emails that are released in tranches each day cause more harm than good,'' the scathing report says.
Another defence mechanism used by ANC leaders to shield the family is the use of the term ''white monopoly capital'', which the report states was invented as if it was a new phenomenon. In order to emerge out of its present quagmire, the report proposes that the conference deal head on with mistakes committed and not use ''regime change'' to defend the mistakes.
It also proposes interaction with communities where ANC members live or work, and that the party not shy away from reaching out to international ''friendly forces'' for support.
Mantashe told journalists it was not often that an organisational report was presented at a policy conference, and that this was necessitated by the party’s stalwarts and veterans’ call for a separate consultative conference. The veterans and members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) national council are boycotting the conference.