The ANC is for everyone, says Mantashe

Conflict within the African National Congress (ANC) is caused by people who want to make the organisation a small and tightly-knit one for a civilised class of people only, said the party’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, on Wednesday.

Mantashe told the United Association of South Africa national congress in Boksburg: “We came in and said we want the ANC to include everyone—we want it to be a multiclass party.”

He said: “According to the Freedom Charter, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black or white. That is why I am here today; that is why it was important for me to come here and listen to you.”

He said no government can just reclaim authority against the will of the people.

“After our December conference in Polokwane, we decided and adopted to make this [Freedom Charter] a reality. We decided that we are going to go out there, talk to the people, hear people’s views and speak to minority communities who had no interaction with the ANC in the past.”

He said white people had been pushed aside and became spectators of change around them for the past 10 years.

“We want to connect with people and bridge the gap that was created over the years they were marginalised.
We want the party’s thinking to be influenced by the people.”

Mantashe was asked by a union member why he was criticising the former leaders of the ANC, though South Africa’s economy grew during their term in office.

“Let me correct this ... it was not the leadership that grew the economy, but the ANC. The policies belong to the ANC. It is the organisation that produces your Thabo Mbekis, Nelson Mandelas and your Oliver Tambos. It is not the other way round.”

Mantashe said there is a saying within the ANC, especially when talking to investors, that there will be no change. “That is not true. There would be change where we see that something is not working and there would be no change where things are progressing.”

This is the reason why the ANC removes leaders “when they become big and resistant”.

Mantashe said it has always been like that in the ANC. The party does not allow its leaders to think they are bigger than the organisation.

He said the country is not going down economically, as he has seen consistency in the economy for the past 10 years. “As you see, we are faced with the global financial crisis, but our bank system remains intact.”

‘Renegades and the rich’
Meanwhile, South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday that a new political party would be one comprising renegades and capitalist rich people.

Speaking at a South African Democratic Teachers’ Union gathering in Pretoria, Nzimande warned that it is essential to keep the tripartite alliance united in the wake of a proposed political party formed by former ANC chairperson Terror Lekota and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa.

“It will be a party of rich people, a party of renegades. The challenge for us, comrades, is that we must keep our organisations united. We must protect each other ... but we must be vigilant.”

He said the likes of Shilowa and Lekota are trying to destroy unity within the alliance, and that he is not certain whether they are dissidents, counter-revolutionaries or both.

He said leadership is not an entitlement—it has to be earned.

“What they are doing is a continuation of what they failed to do in the ANC. That is why comrade [Zwelinviva] Vavi is right when he says they are nothing more than a black DA [Democratic Alliance]. They share a similar class agenda.”

Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Vavi was also expected to address the meeting later on Wednesday.—Sapa

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