We hope we can clarify some of the processes leading up to the African National Congress' elective conference, writes Gwede Mantashe.
"Fake members boost JZ," alleged a headline in the Mail & Guardian (October 12). The article says: "Members claim that auditors padded the figures for provinces crucial to Zuma's re-election."
We hope we can clarify some of the processes leading up to the ANC's elective conference. The ability to analyse political situations is of paramount importance to anyone with a stake in processes leading up to the ANC centenary conference in December 2012 in Mangaung, which will be a watershed for the ANC, South Africa and its people.
This conference will see ordinary members, the most basic yet most important structure of the ANC, exercising their right as branch delegates to decide the direction of the party in terms of both policy positions and leadership for the next five years. Grassroots democracy controls the way public policy decisions are made. We, the ANC, are a proud liberation movement steeped in the rich traditions of democracy, non-racialism and non-sexism.
For the upcoming elective conference the ANC leadership has outlined a clear, transparent and effective registration and credentials process, which has been endorsed by the national executive committee and all provinces. This process is articulated in the ANC constitution and the nominations guidelines and has checks and balances in place to avoid any wrongdoing.
To date in the current process we have not been made aware of any illegal inflation of membership numbers in any of the provinces, except for the incident referred to by the M&G, which we were dealing with even before publication in the newspaper. The ANC was aware of these allegations and was in the process of verifying the validity of the claim. We were already 90% through the verification process and were aware that the report mentioned by the journalist was a fake one. This was intimated to the journalist, but he refused to take heed.
Not a single one of our branches or structures has lodged any such complaint and, until they do, we shall not assume malice from anyone. As with any political organisation that has enjoyed success and the popularity of the people, there are elements that will attempt to derail its progress.
Therefore, the society the ANC is working towards is one in which the "battle of ideas and values" among different political parties occurs in a peaceful and constructive manner. The ANC allows for different viewpoints to exist and to disagree amicably without anger, disinformation, the spreading of lies and the hurling of insults. These are attempts to derail our democratic processes and force them to degenerate into name-calling and political jockeying.
In any effective political dialogue, such as the nomination process that our branches are currently engaged in to nominate their preferred leadership for the next five years, there is tension, but far less conflict than what is portrayed in some media. In the run-up to the ANC conference, some in the media are playing a prominent role in the inception and spread of conflict as they selectively report on ANC processes, political events and leadership and take them out of context to create their own desired images.
Some even filter the real news, fragment it and parcel out the pieces they want to communicate, framed to serve their own political leanings. Throughout our existence we have learned to deal with disinformation, deception and propaganda against the organisation. It is vital to its internal political equilibrium to correct wrong statements and outright lies meant to divide the ANC.
Our task as leaders is to make sure that the processes leading up to our elective conference are credible. No amount of lies and distortion can derail our conference.
Gwede Mantashe is secretary general of the ANC