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The African National Congress (ANC) agreed with its alliance partners that using party positions to accumulate wealth was a concern, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.

“Using election to positions in the ANC as a stepping stone to power and accumulation is an alien tendency in the ANC,” he told a media briefing at the party’s national general council (NGC) in Durban.

Both the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and South African Communist Party have for months raised questions about a “small group” in the ANC using positions for accumulation of wealth.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had warned of the dangers of a “predatory elite” controlling the state as a vehicle for enrichment.

ANC regarded as ’employment agency’
Mantashe said the party was regarded as an employment agency, with more and more people joining it to gain resources.

Who are the people to watch at the ANC’s national general council? We start our series with a look at President Jacob Zuma, ahead of one of the ruling party’s most important meetings, held once a term.

“There is the amassing of wealth at the expense of the organisation. The ANC is regarded as an employment agency,” said Mantashe in the organisational report he presented on the first day of the meeting on Monday.

The ANC also faced problems of ill discipline within its ranks, especially among those in leadership positions, he said.

There was also a problem of the deployment and election of people who were not suitable for positions of authority.

“The new culture of block voting based on slates compromises internal democratic leadership election processes and denies the organisation of its capable leadership,” he said.

The ANC also faced a problem of people who rose through the ranks to senior positions without going through the necessary organisational development processes.

“Another problem is that leadership debate and lobbying for positions have been relegated into conspiracy and plotting,” said Mantashe.

He said the role of the branches was sometimes undermined through lack of consultation and accountability by the leadership.

Mantashe’s ‘honest’ report hailed
Cosatu’s Gauteng secretary, Dumisani Dakile, said President Jacob Zuma and Mantashe had set the tone for the discussions when they highlighted areas such as organisational development and discipline.

He hailed Mantashe’s report, saying it was “honest”, “open” and “frank” about the weaknesses the party faced.

KwaZulu-Natal delegate Phelani Ngcobo echoed Zuma’s comments on placing the ordinary members at the centre of the party’s focus.

“The most important thing is the membership, it’s something we want to see put into practice. This will help with the differences among members in the branches,” he said.

He said people joined the ANC for “their own gain” without understanding what the organisation stood for. On this score, the party had to ensure that its members were in the party for the right reason — to serve the people of South Africa.

Ngcobo said Zuma had also dealt with relations within the alliance, which he felt had been strained in recent months. He was happy that the president “took charge” on the matter.

Milton Morema from Mpumalanga said he expected “extensive discussions” on tackling corruption. He described Zuma’s address as “powerful” and said his concern over the future of the party’s alliance, as well its relationship with its youth league, had been somewhat alleviated.

Thembi Mgomezulu from KwaZulu-Natal wanted the ANC to look into creating more jobs for women.

Youth league delegate Thulani Sichwana expressed concern over Zuma’s comments on the ANC Youth League — the ANC president took a firm stance on discipline, saying the recent happenings at league conferences were “unacceptable”.

Sichwana said the league was an autonomous body with is own constitution and therefore should not be subject to the disciplinary code of the ANC.

The mood at the council was more sombre on Tuesday — a marked difference from Monday — where songs pervaded the air as old friends renewed acquaintances. – Sapa

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