South Africa

ANC’s Mantashe: We wielded the broom, not the axe

By Greg Nicolson 19 March 2013

Sometimes you gotta break it to build it; the ANC is healthy and bold. That was secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s view on the state of the organisation in 2013 after the national executive committee (NEC) disbanded the party’s Limpopo and ANC Youth League leadership. He also denied there was a purge of Zuma’s enemies. Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and the leaders formerly known as the ANCYL NEC are, for now, playing along. By GREG NICOLSON.

The statement of the ANC NEC read by Mantashe at Luthuli House on Monday is only three pages long but sums up the tangible effects of factionalism and poor leadership within the party. It begins by mentioning the Free State province’s need to hold a provincial conference after last year’s meeting was ruled unlawful. The death of Obuti Chika of North West province is next, as are the debacles in the Tlokwe and Ngaka Modiri Molema regions and Eastern Cape municipalities.

“Rectification is not turmoil,” said Mantashe, addressing the dissolution of the Limpopo provincial executive and ANCYL NEC. “When you correct your organisation you are not in turmoil. It means you are in a phase of strengthening your organisation.” Mantashe argued that the ANC is confronting the many issues it faces rather than sweeping them under the rug. “The fact that the ANC can identify problems and rectify them is a sign of the health of the ANC,” he told media. Much of the NEC statement was simply an update on last year’s report on the state of municipalities, he said. “That’s all we’re doing. An organisation that is capable of doing that is healthy.”

Cassel Mathale will keep as job as premier while the Limpopo provincial executive committee (PEC) will be replaced by an interim structure, to be appointed next week, that will be given nine months to convene a provincial conference to elect new leaders. “The PEC has been dissolved for displaying totally un-ANC behaviour and institutionalised factional conduct within the provincial leadership. In selecting the interim structure emphasis will be made that it should not be a faction replacing another faction,” reads the NEC statement. Mathale’s allegiances, much like his homeboy Julius Malema’s allegiances, have always been factional, first as a supporter of President Jacob Zuma and then as a detractor.

“Is this a purge because of the Mangaung conference?” Mantashe asked, repeating a journalist’s question. “The conference has come and gone. We don’t go around purging people from that conference… If it is a purge it is a purge by the conference,” he said, noting that delegates to Mangaung wanted to disband the ANC Youth League but deferred the decision to the NEC. Ironically, one of the reasons the Limpopo PEC had been dissolved, said Mantashe, was that when Mathale was reelected in 2011 he sacked almost all those who stood against his slate. “The life of the ANC does not begin and end at Mangaung,” added Mantashe.

The ANCYL leadership was disbanded “as a consequence of its continued ill-disciplined behaviour that brought the organisation into disrepute on a number of occasions,” reads the NEC’s statement. All provincial and regional conferences of the youth body have been halted and an interim team is to be appointed. Mantashe said the NEC has not placed a time limit on when new leaders must be elected because the party doesn’t want an “instant coffee” leadership. He said that the current executive under Ronald Lamola was disbanded despite ditching former leader Julius Malema and trying to toe the line with Zuma because ill-discipline is cultural and does not change overnight. The youth on Facebook will say, “Thank you very much. At last!” said Mantashe.

“We don’t want a Youth League that is a post-Mangaung Youth League. We want a Youth League of the ANC that appeals to the young people of society… Young people don’t forget,” said Mantashe referring to the rowdiness under Malema. He said the ANC wants to make the Youth League attractive to a wider selection of young people so that it can groom quality leaders for the future of the party.

Facing media at the ANC’s Limpopo offices, Mathale said he remains loyal to the party and will stand for the chairman position again if the branches nominate him, reported City Press on Monday. “I’m a member in good standing and if branches of the ANC want me, I can never say no. I’ve never said no before.” He reiterated his commitment to the ANC (Julius Malema’s fate serves as a reminder to those who don’t listen to decisions from the executive). “Where we stand now is that we remain members of the ANC. We support whatever decisions have been taken. We accept the decision of the national working committee. We will continue to serve the ANC in whatever capacity as we joined voluntarily. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the ANC. There is no alternative to the ANC,” said Mathale.

According to the Limpopo ANCYL’s Moses Maponya (an opponent of Malema), many of Limpopo’s branches are happy to see him go. Citing a list of corruption allegations and examples of maladministration, Maponya said Mathale was a compromised leader because he is a wealthy businessman, obviously leading to a conflict of interest. Dating back to the provincial elective conference in December 2011 when delegates sent a letter of dispute to Mantashe over the process of Mathale’s election, Maponya said the writing has been on the wall for “Mafia” Mathale. Before that conference, government placed five provincial departments under administration.

Said Maponya: “The branches lost confidence in him.”

Maponya agrees with Mantashe who said that the ANC took the decision to disband the leadership structures after a long process of consultation and reporting. Mantashe said after a conference there is a risk of inaction because every action will be seen as a reprisal against the conference losers. ANCYL spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Khawe declined to comment and referred all queries to the ANC.

“The ANC at 101 years is healthy and strong, is alive, is intact, is bold,” finished Mantashe on Monday. “You are going to see that boldness more and more.” Apart from the Limpopo and Youth League decisions the NEC also showed its “boldness” on a number of decisions relating to local and provincial government structures. In a first after a decision at Mangaung, members charged with the murder of Obuti Chika have been temporarily suspended while they face charges. “This decision will have implication for other serious cases before the courts to ensure that the ANC is consistent in the application of discipline,” said the NEC.

The ANC will need many more of such “bold” decisions in the future. With the ANCYL, many of the provinces and municipalities in crisis, plus the very real risk of purging dissenters in the name of unity, without bold action the ANC will continue to crumble slowly, with the only remaining structures being those that supported ANC president Zuma from the beginning. DM

Read more:

  • Beware the Ides of March: Axe falls on Limpopo ANC & Youth League NEC in Daily Maverick

Photo: Gwede Mantashe at the Monday’s conference (Greg Nicolson)

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