No alternative to the ANC, but Kgalema Motlanthe admits there are serious problems within the party
The ANC’s once proud legacy has in the past few years been seriously tarnished by poor service delivery, corruption and a battered economy. However, former ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe believes that no other political party has the ability to take over.
The ANC’s former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe says a suitable body is yet to be formed as an alternative to the ruling party. He says while the ANC has a prestigious history, the party has been unable to find its purpose post-1994.
Motlanthe was speaking to Daily Maverick on the sidelines of his foundation’s Inclusive Growth Forum which took place at the weekend in the Drakensberg.
“The ANC must be the embodiment of the highest standards in society, then there will be no tolerance of malfeasance and wrongdoing. It manifests itself in simple things.
“The ANC… served as the parliament of the people. Come 1994, the ANC is a legal organisation; it is unbanned. The question the ANC should have posed to itself at that point is, for 82 years we have been part of the struggle on behalf of the people — now what role are we going to play?”
He believes a new cohort of activists will have to rally together to find ways to turn the situation in the country around.
“The alternative does not exist, so it is going to emerge from a re-alignment because there will be many good South Africans located in all kinds of formations — and some who are not even in any formation — and that organisation that is going to take the country forward will come out of a new vision and people will see themselves in the vision,” he said.
Motlanthe’s criticism of the ANC
The man who served as democratic South Africa’s third president for eight months said the basic functions of the party are not fully operational, making it an arduous task for many to be active in the ANC when they are not leading in any structures.
“I am an ordinary member of the ANC, but the way the party is structured, I am excluded from the political life of the party because branch general meetings never happen,” he said.
He raised concerns about the current and upcoming crop of party leaders, saying they have not been able to assist with building the party.
The ANC heads to its 55th conference in December, where a new leadership will be elected.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Kgalema Motlanthe returns to support Ramaphosa when trusted people are few and far between”
“The ANC is led by young people who were leaders of Cosas and Sasco — whether you go to the branches, it’s them, and ordinarily this should be cause for celebration… we should be saying the organisation is in good hands and it has a future because it is in the hands of generations who represent the future.
“The fact that it is standing and that prestige keeps on waning because of what it does and says and fails to do, is a worrying sign that perhaps these young people have learnt the wrong things instead of bringing new energy and thinking — that is a concern.
“For any organisation at any given time to command respect and high prestige, it has to be a true representative of the party itself. You can say all things about Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, but the ANC the people know is my neighbour, and if my conduct and general attitude and how I relate to other people brings about a negative response, that is a problem,” he said.
Motlanthe went on to speak about the general state of the country, suggesting the government should work with those who want to contribute positively to improve the current situation.
“South Africa is at the point where there are lots of negatives… the municipalities are not functioning well, the economy is not growing at the right rate, unemployment levels are high, inequality, poverty and supply of water and electricity is a problem.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: “South Africa needs these five fundamentals to change course and start rebuilding”
Motlanthe added: “At the same time, there are South Africans who are doing excellent work… but all that is not connected because it is not located within a framework… what [former deputy finance minister] Mcebisi Jonas refers to as a national cause.
“So, good people who are doing good things end up doing that in silos, whereas there could be tributaries decanting into a framework which would take the country forward.
“There are many dialogues and discussions, conferences and commissions taking place, trying to find a solution, and it is all outside of a framework.
“We do not have a national cause, which means good people are in search of a cause,” he said.
In his opening speech delivered on Friday evening, Motlanthe described the country as being “on the precipice”. This sparked a backlash from the leadership structures of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo.
Motlanthe was lambasted, along with former presidents Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, who also had speaking engagements where they mentioned the degeneration of the country under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s watch.
🟥WATCH🟥 Former President Jacob Zuma says President Cyril Ramaphosa has committed treason. “No President Should conduct private business while in office, its not allowed 🚫 #Zuma #ZumaNationalAddress #ZumaPresser pic.twitter.com/RlVAScJkpx
— Central News (@fscentralnews) October 22, 2022
During a media briefing on Saturday, Zuma said Ramaphosa had “committed treason” and should not have been allowed to do private business as President.
Meanwhile, Mbeki delivered the keynote speech at the annual general meeting of the Strategic Dialogue Group, where he said the party was being led by criminals. He also reflected on the Phala Phala scandal.
KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo deemed the remarks from the former presidents as an attack on Ramaphosa and took the opportunity to defend the president. DM