ANC: Things fall apart
It’s a month before Mangaung and the ANC is scrambling to get its house in order – by-elections are on the cards, the police have been told to clamp down on violent strikes and the party laments that the recall of Thabo Mbeki dented its image.
Carien du Plessis and Mandy Rossouw analyse the party’s documents and find an organisation that is divided, a government slow to act and a long to-do list at the end of President Jacob Zuma’s first term
In her report on local government elections, former home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma recommended that by-elections be held in wards where councillors were fraudulently nominated.
Dlamini-Zuma was tasked by the ANC to investigate 425 complaints the party received after the municipal elections in 2011.
She paints a devastating picture of the state of branches, saying: “In many cases, ANC branches and members are no longer viewed as living, dynamic units consisting of human beings … (They have become) membership forms that constitute a bulk commodity.”
Her report was presented to the NEC meeting at the weekend.
Dlamini-Zuma reported that:
» Certain members in possession of membership slips, forms or cards were not allowed to participate in meetings on the basis that their names did not feature on lists known as the “Two Quire” or “Wisdom List”;
» Individuals “trade” in membership lists;
» Some councillors only became ANC members after they were nominated for the municipal elections; and
» People outside the organisation put pressure on branches to choose certain candidates who would facilitate tenders for them.
“The focus is no more on consolidation of membership in terms of people but rather the buying of forms which can be given to anyone as they can be owned by those who have resources. Comrades don’t talk about members as people, but rather as forms.”
Parallel structures were a common feature, especially in the Eastern Cape, as well as gatekeeping, where selective recruitment would take place or membership applications would be refused.
Factions within the ANC have used the party’s centenary celebrations to highlight battles within the party, ANC
secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has said.
He has also warned that “public spats” among ANC NEC members and alliance partners are “bleeding the organisation”.
This has become more intense in the run-up to the party’s national congress in Mangaung in December, “where everything is seen in terms of leadership preferences”.
In his draft organisational report, which was discussed at the party’s national executive committee meeting this weekend, Mantashe said “serious attempts” were made to disrupt memorial lectures delivered by President Jacob Zuma to celebrate the lives of former ANC presidents, especially in the Western Cape and Limpopo.
“The determination by some members of our movement to destabilise the organisation and disrupt meetings as a tactic to get what they want, either in conferences or any other structure of the movement, is a clear sign of a revolutionary movement that has been infiltrated,” he said.
“It borders on counter-revolution to sabotage an ANC gathering deliberately,” he said.
He said factionalism “has become institutionalised” and it’s worse in provinces where factions are giving themselves formal names.
Mantashe said the labelling of factions as “forces of change” or “second term” in the run-up to Mangaung “made people to remain in their trenches” and take “rigid positions beyond the conference”.
Mantashe also warned about the way lobbying took place ahead of provincial and national congresses, particularly referring to slates or negotiated lists of leadership candidates. He said this ran “the risk of blunting democracy as a tool in the future”.
In the report, Mantashe also gives a short account of the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki, calling it “the most difficult period during the past five-year term”.
Mantashe said there was “maximum unity” in the movement at that time, which helped the party to fight “the most difficult elections in 2009 successfully”.
He will submit a final copy of this report in Mangaung.
Government took too long to intervene in the situation at Lonmin that led to the Marikana killings, the party said in its national working committee report released at the NEC meeting yesterday.
“The late intervention by government in the Lonmin situation was also identified as allowing space for anarchy,” the report reads.
In his draft organisational report, which was discussed at the party’s national executive committee meeting this weekend, Mantashe said “dealing with lawlessness and violent strikes is not a labour relations matter but a law enforcement challenge”.
He said the party’s subcommittee on peace and stability should “develop a more coherent strategy” to deal with this.
He said the “growing trend of lawlessness and violence” that characterised protests and strikes was “one of the biggest challenges facing society”.
A Cosatu survey showed that more than half of the labour federation’s members believed violence was critical for them to achieve their demands.
The NWC report also warned the police to get their act together.
“The upsurge of violence in the broader Rustenburg area was identified as needing urgent attention with an urgent need to restore law and order to the area. The continued killing of workers and members of the community in the area does not receive sufficient attention a the moment.”
The National Union of Mineworkers has been “weakened” in the Rustenburg area.
The ANC said competition between unions must be accepted, but employers must be warned against being partisan and openly preferring one union over the other.
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has positioned itself as a “counterforce” to the ANC and the disciplinary action against its leaders has split the mother body down the middle, Mantashe says.
He also blamed the league for “delegitimising” the ANC’s decision in the eyes of the public to recall former president Thabo Mbeki by claiming that it was the league’s idea.
In his draft organisational report, which was discussed at the party’s national executive committee meeting this weekend, Mantashe, dealing harshly with the youngsters, said the league’s strategy “has translated itself into recklessness in dealing with the ANC as a mother body.
This behaviour has cost the movement heavily over time.”
Mantashe also bemoans the fact that the ANC’s top leaders didn’t immediately defend him when the league started attacking him following the 2007 Polokwane congress.
“This continued for a long time before being graduated into an open offensive on the president (Jacob Zuma), coupled with attacks on any leader of the ANC who dared raise the voice against this deviant behaviour.”
He said the party’s NEC was divided about whether Julius Malema and fellow youth leaders should be disciplined.
“This became another point of disagreement in the NEC, dividing the NEC into those for and those against,” he said.
Mantashe said the league continued with this “trend”, which “took a different shape of digging into the integrity of any ANC leader who dared question the behaviour. This graduated into hurling of insults to individual leaders of the ANC.”
It was this that led to Malema and his fellow leaders being disciplined.
He said things have been going better since the disciplinary action was taken.
“The engagement between the ANC and the ANCYL is shaping…”
lthough the league said it would “remain defiant” against the outcome of the disciplinary hearing, this “has not materially happened”, Mantashe said.
The ANC set itself a serious to-do list of policy changes at its 2007 Polokwane congress, but many of these have still not been done.
In his draft organisational report, which was discussed at the party’s national executive committee meeting this weekend, Mantashe reflects on the work of the party’s policy subcommittees.
Many meetings of these subcommittees, which consist of ANC NEC members and invited members, have been poorly attended, often because ANC leaders were too busy or because “comrades just do not take the work of subcommittees seriously”.
Policy issues still outstanding are:
» The formula used to calculate the proportional allocation of seats in local government was never reviewed;
» A single public service – this task “proved to be very complex and slow to implement”;
» A single police service has proved just as complex to achieve;
» The debate about the review of provinces and local government “is raging on”;
» An ANC ethics committee as directed by the national general council in 2010 has not been established;
» No post-tenure and employment rules for public representatives and senior public officials have been developed; and
» Sports transformation requires “more energy from the ANC” because black Africans are still under-represented in sports such as rugby and cricket.
Policy decisions from Polokwane that were executed are:
» Floor-crossing legislation was repealed;
» The Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) was dissolved and replaced by the Hawks;
» A ministry for military veterans was established;
» Private security companies are currently being dealt with by the Private Security Bill; and
» 50% quotas for women have led to women “playing critical roles in society”.