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Party should never have put Zuma’s interests above its own, says ANC elections head

Party should never have put Zuma’s interests above its own, says ANC elections head
ANC elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli says the ANC as a movement is not corrupt, though some individuals may be corrupt. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

As the election day of reckoning draws closer, the ruling African National Congress is under siege, facing growing opposition from the right, left and centre, and an enemy within in the form of its former president Jacob Zuma and his uMkhonto Wesizwe Party. In Part Two of our interview series, ANC elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli reflects frankly on past mistakes and lessons learnt.

The African National Congress (ANC) is heading towards the 2024 elections knowing full well the hurdles ahead, but the party’s elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli says the ANC is ready to engage voters on how it will address those challenges.

Read Part One of our interview series hereANC made many mistakes, but will correct them in the next five years – elections head 

He was speaking to Daily Maverick as pre-election polls continued to predict that the ANC would lose its majority in the National Assembly for the first time in the 30-year history of democracy, and would lose power outright in two (KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng) of the eight provinces it controls. Polls also suggest that the party will suffer further destruction in the ninth province – the Western Cape – where its archrival, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has been in charge since 2004.

After three decades of winning elections with ease, the ANC has been accused of ever-growing arrogance, with critics saying it has been hijacked by tenderpreneurs and corrupt elements – both within and outside its ranks – who use it to milk the public purse for their own aggrandisement.

The ANC’s mistakes on Jacob Zuma

Ntuli said the ANC made a mistake by supporting former president Jacob Zuma during his appearances in court and before Parliament, thereby elevating an individual’s importance above the party’s – much to the detriment of its own brand.

Early this year, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula told supporters that the ANC lied to protect Zuma on the upgrade to his Nkandla homestead. Ntuli was the ANC KZN provincial secretary when fraud and corruption charges against Zuma were reinstated, and he was one of the leaders who supported him in court and in public.

Read more in Daily Maverick: It was a lie — Mbalula admits ANC tricked Parliament to protect Zuma in Nkandla ‘fire pool’ debacle

Ntuli said there were many things the party had done in the past that it now regretted.

“While one may not take away the good things that were achieved during his tenure as leader of the party and the ANC government. These are his achievements and the ANC’s. But there are many things which are very strange that were done during that era which were never dealt with while JZ was still in the ANC. Some of these were revealed through the commission of inquiries and other investigations. 

“These include the deliberate hollowing out [of] state institutions and state-owned companies. In the case of SARS [South African Revenue Service] and SAA, Eskom and others. 

Former SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Esa Alexander)

“Now there is evidence that Tom Moyane [appointed by Zuma as head of SARS in 2014 until his contract was terminated by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2018] and Dudu Myeni [appointed as SAA board chairperson in 2012] and others took conscious and deliberate actions with the aim of walloping and hollowing these state-owned companies … 

dudu myeni

Former SAA Chairperson Dudu Myeni. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath)

“These are shocking revelations.

“You and I know that neither Myeni nor Moyane have challenged the findings of the judicial commissions of inquiry that had damning findings against them.”

Zuma and MK Party are ‘counter-revolutionaries’

Ntuli said Zuma had failed in his nine years as president to achieve many of the things that he and the MK Party were now posturing about.

“In a classical political sense, Zuma and the MK Party are counter-revolutionaries. He said he is now against the Constitution that elected him twice as the president, he wants the Constitution to be amended to give more powers to traditional leaders. Powers to do what, I don’t know. 

“When JZ decided to form the MK Party, we knew that he would recruit amongst ANC structures. Indeed, there are people who have left the ANC to join the MK Party for one or the other reasons … We are addressing discontent in our ranks and telling our supporters that you cannot leave your home and abandon your family because you are unhappy about something.

He said Zuma and the MK Party might attract supporters from parties other than the ANC, such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Economic Freedom Front (EFF).

To date, the MK Party has already made an impact among some voters in three by-elections, but Ntuli maintains that the ANC’s internal polling suggests that the ANC will lose only a small portion of its support in KZN to the MK Party.

Cadre deployment and the DA

Cadre deployment has become a burning issue in the election campaign. The ANC embarked on a policy of cadre deployment in 1997, advocating for party loyalists to occupy prominent positions in the public sector.

The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture found that cadre deployment played a significant part in corruption and went as far as to say that it is “illegal and unconstitutional”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cadre deployment – a powerful and lasting bone of rolling political contention

The opposition DA took the ANC to court, seeking that the policy be declared unconstitutional and asking the court to compel the ANC to hand over the minutes of the meetings where cadre deployment was discussed. 

On 12 February 2024, the Constitutional Court ruled that the ANC had five days to hand over their cadre deployment records dating back to 1 January 2013.

The ANC maintains that, in principle, there is nothing wrong with implementing the policy and it will continue with cadre deployment. 

“The judge said there is nothing wrong with a ruling party practising cadre deployment; it is only wrong when people who are not qualified are put into a position for which they have no experience or expertise and others who commit illegal acts and corruption.

“The DA is fighting us in court for practising cadre deployment but they are doing exactly what we do in Western Cape and in municipalities they control. 

“They may not call it cadre deployment, but the DA in [the] Western Cape government also appoints people who it knows will advance their policies,” he said.

“When the DA was accused of applying cadre deployment of their own, Helen Zille issued a statement saying that [former DA leader] Mmusi Maimane had introduced cadre deployment and when [she] came to the leadership of the DA [as leader of the DA Federal Council] she put an end to it. So, now when it is clear that the DA is also practising cadre deployment, this is all blamed on a black man,” Ntuli said, pointing out that this was at a time when “a white DA ideologue” – then federal chairperson James Selfe – was the full-time administrator of the DA.

“This clearly shows the hypocrisy of our opposition. If anything bad goes wrong, a black man is blamed. If a white person is corrupt, this is papered over.

Tackling public service corruption

Ntuli said the perception of widespread corruption in the ANC-run government and in state-owned enterprises worried the ANC, but he disputed that the party was full of corrupt people.

Read more in Daily Maverick: It takes two to tango – Businesses have also been culpable in dishonesty, looting and bringing SA to its knees

“We need to tackle corruption vigorously, wherever it happens. Our cadres who are found committing corruption must face the music. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the ANC as a movement is corrupt. But there are individuals who are corrupt,” he said. 

Ntuli explained that some deployed cadres might feel beholden to certain leaders, “and they commit these acts to help that individual leader”.

“They do it to protect their job or thinking that the individual leader is acting on behalf of the ANC,” he said, adding that it was one fault line in the ANC’s cadre deployment policies.

“But we are now correcting this by capacitating the ANC headquarters to be … an organisation that is able to monitor the people it deploys in various capacities,” he said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Oh really, you just can’t admit that it was your thieving corrupt and incompetent party AND YOURS ALONE that has ruined this country – except of course the Western Cape – and must pay for your disgusting behaviour. Off with you, you lying heap of cr*p!

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    That the ANC continues to lie on record is outrageous and DM should do a better job of calling then out in it articles

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    These guys talk the talk but never walk the walk!
    Zuma should have been dealt with a long time ago – why should politicians have more rights than the average citizen?
    Time for change.

  • Geoff Krige says:

    When every person named in the Zondo findings or any other corruption investigation, is not just taken off election lists, but expelled from the ANC; when every provincial or municipal councillor responsible for water supply that has failed, responsible for sewage plants that spew sewage into our rivers, responsible for roads that have become badly potholed, responsible for failed housing projects, or responsible for unpaid debts is removed from office; and when all SOEs operate effective and we are 5 years beyond any reports of corruption or incompetence there, only then will the ANC have any right to claim it is a transformed party.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Pathetic attempt to weasel out of all that the ANC stood for, and still stand for, and will always stand for. Can the tiger change his spots? Can the fox give up eating chickens? No, of course not. Criminality and incompetence are too baked in to the ANC to ever change. Those traits and worse are in the nature and always will be.

    • Grenville Wilson says:

      We protest against the ANC, and bemoan the corruption and cry about 30 years spilt milk and have been looking to the DA as our saviour. And now that the time is right where is the DA? Mefears the DA lost the plot many years ago and that under the current dismal leadership will lose the position of official opposition at the next elections! The fact that the DA doesn’t seem to be able to to take advantage of the current ANC disarray and leverage it says it all. Where is the DA leadership? What happened after the Cadre minutes were handed over? Some one please stand up.

  • Jeremy Stephenson says:

    Reading this you could almost be forgiven for thinking that the ANC has indeed been doing some hard introspection and has discovered some moral fibre. But only a fool would fall for such a far-fetched notion.

  • Glyn M says:

    It is not cadre deployment that is the problem. It is the fact that the ANC employ cadres who have neither the education, the experience or the know-how to do the job. If they had done a good job, the institutions wouldn’t be the in the parlous state they’re in now. The DA doesn’t put people in high positions unless they’re competent. You just need to look at the Western Cape to see the truth of that.

  • EK SÊ says:

    History is not full of repetition. It echoes. Protecting Ramaphosa is but one such echoe.

  • Senzo Moyakhe says:

    “Ntuli said the perception of widespread corruption in the ANC-run government and in state-owned enterprises worried the ANC, but he disputed that the party was full of corrupt people.”

    I’m not quite sure which planet Ntuli lives on, but it certainly cannot be Earth. There is no ‘…perception of widespread corruption…’, it is the daily lived experience of South Africans. No amount of disputing that the party is full of corrupt people will fool those who have even a half quota of intelligence. Cadre deployment is known even by the most age-worn gogo in our townships and they feel its dire consequences every damn day.

    So, we need a major push back to get these deluded idiots out of office and put in place a government that:
    1) Knows what it is doing,
    2) Does things right with a focus on turning our country around.

    Come on South Africa, get the ANC out of here!

  • Lawrence Jacobson says:

    The difficulties of being a “revolutionary” and a “governing” party. The two terms negate each other. Revolutionaries, by definition, do not need to follow the law. Governing parties do.

  • Walter Spatula says:

    I just stopped reading at the unsubstantiated and racist accusation that corruption by white people is just papered over.

  • Bob Fraser says:

    Bob F March 4th 2024 at 10:32
    The ANC knew precisely what they were doing when they backed
    Zuma. After all they did it twice. Even when it was generally known that he was corrupt and under the control of the Gupta Clan. Lame excuses and apologies are far too late and totally unacceptable. Is Ntuli an official spokesman for the ANC. Ramaphosa, as deputy to Zuma obviously knew what was going and any apology should have come from him. Obviously he was to scared of the cabinet many of them were and still are Zuma’s henchmen.

  • William Dryden says:

    Ntuli, is another spin doctor employed by the ANC to sugar coat the looting by their ministers. 5 Years ago Ramaphosa swore in his Sona speech, to root out corruption, but has done nothing about it, and now Ntuli expects the public to believe that given another 5 years (like the last 5 years) corruption will be rooted out. Yeh and the Dodo will be resurrected.

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Old Roman proverb: if you walk next to someone who limps you will start to limp yourself. Aesop: a swallow does not make a spring … but a flight probably does. There is a lot to be said for old wisdom in modern times.

  • ST ST says:

    Never mind ANC’s interests, putting JZ’s interest above the country is the real issue. If they really feel remorseful, they should step down, let better able and ethical take over and stop exploiting the voters for power. After the previous government SA deserved better. This level of dereliction of duty should be classed as treasonous…

  • Michael Bowes says:

    But wasn’t the ANC’s last election campaign based on “Sure, we F@$ked up the last 25 years – Give us another chance!”? I’m sure I can remember Cyril Ramadonothing saying that!

  • Rae Earl says:

    What is Ntuli talking about? Cyril Ramaphosa has known for years exactly who in his cabinet of comrades has been stealing SA’s money and future at every level. In his 5 years as president he has done next to nothing to get rid of these comrades and we must believe he’ll start doing it in the next 5 years. Catch a wake-up Ramaphosa. We know you rely on the support of a rotten cabinet to keep you there and never question your Phala Phala dealings and other unknown deals.

  • Jeff Robinson says:

    “This clearly shows the hypocrisy of our opposition. If anything bad goes wrong, a black man is blamed. If a white person is corrupt, this is papered over.” I think the opposition could make the same claim after switching the colours Such an irresponsible, racist utterance deserves comdenation, but I am afraid that it conveys a sentiment more widely held than we would wish to admit.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Alder’s Razor: If something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, then it is not worthy of debate.

      The only truth is that the ANC is a trainwreck for all our people and needs to be voted out now.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Too little, too late. It’s only because he was put under pressure that he flip-flopped. But of course, the damage is done because the forgetful voters will no doubt put their crosses in the wrong place yet again.

  • Joe Soap says:

    All the whole Parliament ANC majority putting Ramaphosas interest ahead of SA on the Phala-phala saga – they just don’t learn.

  • Deon Schoeman says:

    Going by the total destruction of the country and the SOE’s over the last 30 years , anything ANC is VERY BAD news indeed !!!

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