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Ronald Lamola: ANC needs succession plan, young blood i...

South Africa

DAILY MAVERICK INTERVIEW

A succession plan, young blood and Ramaphosa – that’s what the ANC needs, says deputy president hopeful Lamola

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has relased. statement on the extraditions South Africa is dealing with. According to officials, the country is currently handling about 50 cases. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)

ANC National Executive Committee member Ronald Lamola, 38, says the ANC’s renewal process will be ‘painful’, but he believes it is the only direction the party should be taking at the moment. One of the issues he wants addressed is a succession plan, which must include younger members elected to key positions.

ANC National Executive Committee member Ronald Lamola, who is the justice and correctional services minister, believes it is important for the party’s renewal project to look at plotting a clear succession plan, which means electing more young people into leadership positions. 

Lamola, a staunch Cyril Ramapahosa supporter, has hinted at the possibility of contesting for the deputy president position at the national conference at the end of 2022. He would be up against the likes of seasoned politician Paul Mashatile, the current treasurer-general. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “Fierce contestation expected for ANC deputy president position

Speaking to Daily Maverick, he explained that it was pertinent for the ANC to look to new models of leadership that allow for a generational mix. The party seems to be looking to the Communist Party of China as a case study in how to deal with the renewal project, which means a system based on a meritocracy.

Former party leader Thabo Mbeki has been an advocate for some elements of the Communist Party’s renewal, including a two-year waiting period before individual membership is accepted. 

Lamola believes senior ANC members should be mentoring young members on the workings of the party and the government. 

“During the process of renewal and reform when the Communist Party of China was in a similar situation as ours, they had to do away with the outdated models and I heard they had a clear succession programme and identified younger, competent leaders, and that programme they called it meritocracy,” Lamola said.

“I do think that, 25 years into democracy, the generation which fought for the Struggle for freedom have played their role. Now we need to transition to a programme of succession based on meritocracy, which is clearly outlined in the ‘Through the Eye of the Needle’ document. Responsibility at a younger age injects more energy and allows the organisation to innovate and take a direction that will continue to revolutionise society.”

Read in Daily Maverick: “One to watch: Ronald Lamola, the young minister with presidential attributes

He believes it is time for the ANC to start discussing issues around this matter, urgently, and without alienating senior party leaders.

“We have to, however, go further, we need to talk about the candidates of the people we need to carry us forward into the next process of the transition. That transition is where we are right now. We need more of a young generation taking over key responsibilities, particularly in the NEC and cabinet and all that. We are not saying we must put into the sea everyone from the generation that fought for freedom, but we are saying that there must be a generational mix that should be skewed to younger people. 

“The conversation has to happen everywhere, it must be frank, robust; it must be transparent for every member. Leadership for a governing party like ours, it cannot be… that I find myself by accident in the NEC. There should be a clear programme for the younger generation that must be mentored by the older generation,” he said. 

The ANC has a history of being led by young black activists, but this has changed over time. Oliver Reginald Tambo was only 38 when he was elected as secretary-general and in his early forties he was already deputy president of the party. The officials who were leading during Nelson Mandela’s tenure are a good example of a generational mix. Mbeki was in his fifties when he was elected deputy president, while Ramaphosa was 38 when he was elected secretary-general.

Recently the party has faced criticism for its geriatric cohort of officials at the helm, and this has spilled over into the government. 

Lamola backs Ramaphosa despite Phala Phala allegations

Lamola believes Ramaphosa is the perfect candidate to lead the ANC, despite recent allegations of criminality at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo. He explained that Ramaphosa has vowed not to interfere in the investigation in any way. 

“The matter of Phala Phala is in the hands of the SAPS. The President said that he is not going to interfere in the investigation. Which is a right given to any South African citizen that when allegations are made that person must subject themselves to the process and allow those processes to unfold. He has agreed to subject himself to the process of the [ANC Integrity Committee]. We need to allow that to have a life of its own. Let us await the outcomes of the investigation and then we can then deal with any outcome. Now we are only speculating, he cannot be dismissed on the basis of allegations,” he said. 

The public first became aware of the theft at Ramaphosa’s farm in Limpopo on 1 June when former director-general of the State Security Agency Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges. He accused the President of defeating the ends of justice, kidnapping and money laundering. 

The former spy boss claims that large undisclosed sums of US dollars were unlawfully removed by burglars from Ramaphosa’s premises. Instead of reporting the matter to the police, Ramaphosa has been accused of having unlawfully instructed Wally Rhoode, the head of the presidential protection unit, to investigate it. Rhoode’s investigation led to the belief that the perpetrators were linked to a domestic worker at the farm.

Ramaphosa is alleged to have paid suspects, including his domestic workers, R150,000 each to not reveal that they had been kidnapped and interrogated.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Ramaphosa maintains silence on details of Phala Phala forex saga while scandal overshadows G7 visit

In his closing speech at the ANC’s Limpopo provincial conference in Polokwane, Ramaphosa denied the allegations and said they were politically motivated.

Lamola argues that Ramaphosa is better placed to conclude the programme of renewal that was started at the Nasrec conference in 2017. 

“He [Ramaphosa] has helped us to renew and build state institutions in our democracy, which was something that South Africa demanded. We are in that state now and we can say we have turned things around on our institutions of democracy. The biggest challenge we are faced with is the state of the economy, which is not growing. But as you are aware, all the economic plans were affected by Covid-19 across the globe and as we were dealing with the economic recovery plan we are now in the Russia-Ukraine war which has affected the price of petrol across the globe which will cause inflation,” he reiterated. 

Speaking about how the party intends to handle members implicated in the State Capture report, Lamola is confident that its processes will unfold over time to hold those members accountable. 

‘The Zondo Commission is part of the ANC resolution in Nasrec that we must have a commission of inquiry to attend to the issues which relate to State Capture. It is an outcome of that process, so it is necessary for us to look at the report and review, agree and disagree with some of its contents and where we agree to implement the recommendations. We still have time to be able to do this and turn around the situation and be able to restore the confidence of the people of this country. I think we have to prioritise the implementation of those resolutions, particularly when there have been considerations and consensus. Obviously it is not going to be easy.”

He added: “We have put a resolution, step aside – it is not like it is a resolution without challenges. It has got challenges, but when you look at any law in any country, when a new law comes in there are lessons in trial and error that are learnt. Even us in the last few years have learnt lessons from the step-aside resolution and with time we are able to continue our work and ensure that we sharpen the tools to fight corruption. I do think we are better placed to look forward and deal with situations.”

Read in Daily Maverick: “ANC NEC moves to overhaul key policies after State Capture Commission’s ‘unsettling’ findings

The scathing final instalment of the report identified a number of top ANC officials, including Ramaphosa, as having dragged their feet in dealing with State Capture.  

The report states that former Free State MEC Mosebenzi Zwane, former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, former president Jacob Zuma and other ministers had abused their power to benefit the Gupta family and were complicit in State Capture.  

It found that cadre deployment played a significant part in enabling State Capture and led toa DA court application to have cadre deployment declared unlawful and unconstitutional. The ANC will be opposing the matter.

The NEC, in its recent sitting, decided that all its leaders, current and former, as well as its members who were mentioned in the State Capture report, must present themselves to the Integrity Commission immediately. DM

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