VISUAL BUZZ SA
OUTGOING ANC President Jacob Zuma has warned party members to guard against external influences, saying he leaves the organisation at a cross roads.
In his last political report as a leader of the 105 -year-old liberation movement, Zuma said members needed to look at internal dynamics that make it possible for outsiders to call the shots and effectively ‘capture’ the party.
“The 54th National Conference is taking place at a time when our movement is at a crossroads. While we identify corporate greed as posing a serious threat to the ANC, we also need to look at internal dynamics within our organisations which makes it possible for external influences to pose a threat to the organisation,” he said.
“The negative tendencies that have been creeping in since the dawn of our democracy in April 1994 in the ANC have intensified over the years. They have now come to a head and are threatening the survival of the ANC.”
He said as they work to intensify organizational renewal at the conference, members had to remember the words of Walter Sisulu who said: “It is a law of life that problems arise when conditions are there for their solution.”
Zuma said the party has managed to stand the test of time because of its ability to rise to the occasion and deal decisively with problems that threatened its very existence.
Something that was required currently.
“We are called upon at this conference to solve our problems so that the ANC can focus on leading society. The ANC remains a dominant force in the country in terms of being in control of the National Assembly, eight provincial legislatures, with one provincial legislature being in the hands of the opposition, following the 2014 national general elections,” said Zuma.
He said the bruising defeat the party suffered during the 2016 municipal elections was a reminder that not all was well and that supporters were not happy. The ANC lost three key metros in the elections with Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg all falling under the control of the Democratic Alliance through a coalition government.
The party retained Ekurhuleni through a coalition as it could not manage to get 50%. He said at a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held immediately after the announcement of the results, they attributed the loss of support to perceptions in society that the party was soft on corruption, self-serving and arrogant.
Gatekeeping and Factionalism
Zuma said other problems identified were gatekeeping and factionalism, things that need to be attended immediately.
“It is clear that our failures to confront problems head-on and solve them had begun to take their toll on the movement. The scourges of factionalism, gatekeeping, ill-discipline, membership buying, and infighting continued to afflict our movement. The leadership had to spend a lot of time visiting provinces to attend to these problems instead of focusing on building the ANC and leading the country to prosperity,” he said.
Zuma remained adamant that despite the challenges of the day, the ANC still represented the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the millions of the marginalized and who are concentrated in the periphery of the mainstream economy.
“A heavy responsibility rests upon the shoulders of delegates here and on the membership as a whole, to renew our movement and restore its timeless values – unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates and mutual respect. Our people must see in the ANC an organisation that will take them to the life that was envisaged by the founding leaders in 1912. We can achieve that in the manner that we conduct ourselves and in which we deal with the problems facing the movement,” said Zuma.
He challenged members to focus on the needs of South Africans and to ensure that the party becomes the first to know if there are problems in any community, and it is the ANC that must lead the process of finding solutions, working with government.
He also called on members to allow ordinary South Africans to join the party and do away with gatekeeping.
“We should remember that our people love the ANC. They want to be part of the ANC and its programmes. This means that we should eradicate gatekeeping. It is killing our movement. We should enable people to join their movement and participate in its activities. The ANC is the home of all our people, regardless of race, gender and class. In all its manifestations, factionalism has become the biggest threat to the organization,” said Zuma.
He did not hold back and lambasted factionalism and slate politics. He said they resulted in the party losing good leaders and support base. The outcomes of previous elective conferences and party squabbles have given birth to organisations such as the Congress of the People and the Economic Freedom Fighters. Those organisations have eroded the party’s support base and crippled it to the point where it struggles to obtain a two-thirds majority.
“It is because of factionalism that we have seen the emergence of splinter groups over the past ten years which negatively affected our movement both quantitatively and qualitatively. Slate politics, another manifestation of factionalism, has also cost us many good and capable comrades in whom our movement has invested significantly,” said Zuma.
Ill-discipline was another hot topic for Zuma berated party members who have sided with opposition parties in Parliament over dissatisfaction with his leadership. Some party members supported the last motion of no confidence in him.
“Ill-discipline has also continued to afflict the ANC which has taken new forms in the recent past, bordering on members publicly challenging the authority of the organisation. There have also been worse incidents of ill-discipline where members openly side with, and work with opposition parties and other formations that are hostile to the ANC, against positions adopted by the movement. We need to reaffirm the authority of the organization over its individual members. There should be consequences for any member who acts and speaks contrary to the values, principles and political programme of the ANC,” said Zuma