ANC: Resignations list deliberately released

The presidency’s announcement last week of Cabinet resignations, including that of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, was made to collapse markets, African National Congress general secretary Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.

”Thus far we have averted the crisis, even when the list of ministers who have resigned was released with the sole objective — that of collapsing the markets — the swiftness of our response averted the worst,” said Mantashe.

He said Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa would be replaced with the same speed as the ministers who had resigned.

”When dealing with any crisis the speed is of essence,” he added.

Shilowa resigned on September 29 out of loyalty to ousted president Thabo Mbeki and because he did not want to be ”in constant battles” with the ANC leadership.

Mantashe, who was addressing the Dan Tloome memorial lecture in Potchefstroom, talked about the divisions in the ANC as a result of the eight-year corruption investigation against ANC leader Jacob Zuma.

These divisions, he said, eventually culminated in a decision by the ANC’s national executive committee to remove Mbeki from office.

”The decision to recall comrade Mbeki became urgent … so that the movement can unite itself behind a single movement, a single leadership collective and a single programme.

”We appreciated that in any revolution there are cases where loyalty to the commander becomes stronger than to the movement itself.”

This loyalty to Mbeki had led to talks of a splinter party. Two days after Mbeki announced his resignation last Sunday, his office issued a statement announcing the resignation of 14 Cabinet ministers, including Manuel.

The news of Manuel’s resignation shocked financial markets and saw the rand drop sharply. Manuel then announced he was prepared to serve as finance minister again under the new Cabinet led by President Kgalema Motlanthe.

At the time, the ANC called an urgent press conference to clarify the situation, but then stopped short of accusing Mbeki’s office of deliberately attempting to cause confusion on the markets.

‘They must not howl at the movement’
Mantashe also took aim at the South African Communist Party, saying it should refrain from claiming ”cheap victories for the decisions of the ANC”.

He said the SACP could learn a lot from communists such as Tloome — an ANC and SACP leader — Joe Slovo and Chris Hani.

While he praised the current SACP leadership for their open-mindedness and constructive engagement with the broader movement, he also launched into an attack, saying: ”The lesson for communists is that they should play a constructive role in engaging the ANC. They must not howl at the movement, they should rather engage off the limelight of TV cameras.”

”They should not claim cheap victories for the decisions of the ANC. I sometimes have a sense that there is also an element … wherein communists cannot look beyond themselves and cannot recognise talent outside of itself located in the broader movement.”

Mantashe said the movement was going through a very difficult period. This was characterised by ”selfishness and materialism wherein comrades can do anything for a fee”.

”The conflict that we see at all levels of our movement is driven by the desire to control the resources and dispense patronage.”

He said comrades were fighting ”as if it is the last moment of life”. They complained about ”looting” while in fact their fights were only about replacing those whom already had access to resources with others.

”When comrades fight for positions we must be sober and check the performance of the individual comrades and elect them on that basis.

”We must invest time and energy in fighting factionalism,” he added.

Lekota attacks ANC
However, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota on Thursday accused the ANC’s leadership of driving the party away from its political cultures and practices, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.

”I want them to say in unadulterated fashion, whether this is the route they are pursuing deliberately, or whether perhaps they are not aware of it,” Lekota told the media in Pretoria.

He said the current leadership within the ANC had taken a direct and unadulterated departure from the Freedom Charter. He also blamed the leadership under Zuma, as being removed from policies and customs enshrined in the Freedom Charter.

”This is a personal open letter to the secretary general [Mantashe] and of course, through him to the leadership of our organisation. If I do not find satisfaction in the response to this, if there is no proper address for this, I reserve the right to decide what I’m going to do with myself.”

Lekota also raised his concerns over what he called ‘high levels of intolerance in the ANC”.

‘Unbecoming behaviour’
The ANC said it disapproved of Shilowa’s ”unbecoming behaviour”, the provincial branch of party said on Tuesday.

Reacting to remarks by Shilowa at his resignation, the party said in a statement: ”As the ANC we disapprove of this unbecoming behaviour of a long-serving ANC member.

”We expect comrade Shilowa to observe discipline, behave honestly and carry out loyally the decisions of the majority and of higher bodies.”

The branch said this was what Shilowa used to preach and enforce when he was the chairperson of the province.

Shilowa said he had resigned ”due to my convictions that while the ANC has the right to recall any of its deployed cadres, the decision needs to be based on solid facts, be fair and just”.

”I also did not feel that I will be able to, with conviction, publicly explain or defend the NEC’s decision on comrade Thabo Mbeki,” Shilowa told reporters in Johannesburg. – Sapa

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