As I’m sure you all know by now, the battle post-Nasrec was twofold: get the economy growing to create much-needed jobs and in turn address poverty, inequality and unemployment and second, clean up both the state and the ANC after the looting and State Capture debacle.
The first component, that of growing the economy, has been a real struggle with rating agencies not helping the situation by downgrading South Africa’s investment outlook. To top this struggle, a global pandemic has further exacerbated our economic woes. Yet, amid all this, we have been able, as a country, to show (albeit very marginal) growth of around 3% for this financial year. This has been a real boost to many sectors within the economy.
Coupled with this, we see a Treasury that is also willing to make difficult decisions on salary increases in the public sector. Unions have been told there simply is no money for annual increases and that a freeze on salary adjustments will have to be made. The unions are yet to respond to this, but let’s hope that they too will see reason about why they must suffer with the majority of our people for a short period of two years. Fingers crossed.
The second component of the battle, that of “cleaning up” the state and the ANC, has equally not been an easy task. But slow progress has been made here too. For starters, all SOEs have undergone major changes at managerial levels, with new boards and top managers all being appointed with a fresh mandate to clean house and rid each entity of blatant corruption and corrupt practices.
A bigger budget has been made available to the National Prosecuting Authority to appoint more prosecutors and investigators and also to deal with backlogs. The terms of reference of the Zondo commission have been changed to allow deeper collaboration between the commission investigators and the evidence they have gathered during the process and the NPA investigators and prosecutors. In other words, evidence coming out of the Zondo commission process can and will be used by the NPA to ascertain whether there exists a prima facie case to answer for and whether prosecutorial action should be taken against certain persons.
On the ANC front, matters have certainly been interesting, to say the least. In November 2020, the NPA brought charges against ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and a few other high-profile people in other provinces. Can it be that the law can prevail over political power in South Africa? The track record of this phenomenon on the continent suggests not. But time will tell.
Suffice to say, this sent shockwaves across the country and through the organisation. Immediately, a resolution adopted at its highest decision-making conference in 2017 was invoked by some in the ANC “to summarily suspend people who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures”.
Others, of course, played for time and used all manner of delaying tactics. After all, this is the ANC secretary-general we are talking about. And indeed, they played the delaying game well. First, they insisted that the matter must be referred to the ANC’s Integrity Commission, which did deliberate on the matter and came to the inescapable conclusion that the secretary-general must adhere to the step-aside principle as adopted at the 54th elective conference in 2017.
They then argued for a second opinion, of sorts, and as such, former president Kgalema Motlanthe was requested to oversee yet another process and, guess what, came to the exact same conclusion as the previous committee members. That the SG must step aside. But when this was reported to the NEC, the opportunists supporting the SG argued that the step-aside principle had legal ramifications and that the ANC really didn’t want to spend most of the organisation’s time in and out of courts of law.
So, the NEC gave instructions to one of its own legal minds to apply himself to this matter and revert soonest. Mathews Phosa did exactly that and reported the necessary legal guidelines that would suffice in these matters. And yet still these opportunists argued, saying that the branches of the ANC should and must have a say in this most drastic step and that the guidelines should be circulated to them all for comment.
One can only assume that this process also came back in agreement with the Integrity Commission’s findings because we, the public, were not made aware of any overt objections to such recommendations from the ANC branches.
All the cards were now stacked against those who fall squarely within this category as outlined in the conference resolution. This is what made the recent NEC meeting so heated and so anticipated. It was to be four days of absolute hell. The contestation of almost all matters before the NEC was palpable.
Can an unconstitutional structure such as the RET faction operate inside the ANC and its facilities to openly undermine the leadership of the ANC and make threats of unseating the president of the ANC? Can the ANC allow youthful idiots in camouflage attire to hijack the name of its glorious liberation army, uMkhonto weSizwe, and this in the name of so-called military veterans? Can we indeed tolerate any member(s) of the ANC openly defying our courts and undermining our democratic constitutional order?
The answer to all of the above was unequivocal: No. We will not and shall not allow any of the above to take place in the name of the ANC. The section that dealt with the step-aside matter stated thus:
“All members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which they should be suspended in terms of Rule 25.70 of the ANC Constitution. The meeting emphasised that the 30-day period will be to enable the implementation of the decision in line with the guidelines, not to review the decision.”
And so, a major victory was won within the ANC, taking us all one step closer towards ridding ourselves of these unwanted and criminal elements in the organisation. The progress in this regard is slow, no doubt, but it is steady, and it is true.
Now, let me warn you of what these RET types will be doing over the coming weeks and months. Just as they opted to disrupt the past weekend’s NEC meeting once they saw they were losing the arguments and caused chaos in an attempt to have the meeting collapse, so will they attempt to create chaos and disruptions over the coming weeks and months.
First, we will be informed fairly soon by Carl Niehaus that they, the opportunists, intend to march on Luthuli House (ANC HQ) to demonstrate their disapproval of the decision by some in the NEC. I use the word “some” because they will want to create an impression that it was only a segment of the NEC that took this decision.
To hell with that — once a decision is agreed upon we all abide by its principles.
At this march, they will want to disrupt so that the police will have to respond by using tear gas, rubber bullets and so on because an impression must be created that they are the victims. Just as I’m sure Ace Magashule’s press conference will attempt to do the same. “I am the victim,” repeating the script that had already been written by Zuma in 2005 when then-president Thabo Mbeki wanted his deputy to resign or face being fired. Zuma opted to not resign and hence was viewed as the victim when he was fired.
And yes, I know what you’re thinking now, didn’t Zuma go on to win the presidency of the ANC thereafter in 2007 and then become the president of the country? Yes, he did, but that’s because Mbeki did not “go in for the kill” at the time. Bulelani Ngcuka, as head of the NPA, should have charged Zuma and who knows, we might have had a different outcome and history to the one we’re dealing with now.
The beleaguered SG, who will after 30 days be suspended, will criss-cross the country in an attempt to muster any and all support around the nation in preparation for the elective conference of 2022. He and his ilk will not succeed in this mission, for the simple reason that our people are no fools. They can see that these are false prophets masquerading as angels, purporting to advance the cause of the poor and marginalised.
As for the much-beloved ANC, who indeed will win the fight for “Brand ANC”? Who will break away if they can muster the courage? It ought not to be the righteous and ethical comrades. It must never be the ones who did not steal, plunder or pillage. This ANC, to borrow from Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem, Ulysses:
Though much is taken, much abides, and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Here’s to the decent and upright members of the ANC: strive, seek and find your true ANC and do not yield in pursuit of that endeavour. DM