Mantashe scolds unions for 'dangerous assumptions'

It is dangerous to assume the ANC is at anyone’s mercy, party secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

“When people begin to be bold about what needs to be changed and what should be said in the ANC, it’s an exaggeration of the role of interaction of allies,” Mantashe said.

He was briefing reporters on the sidelines of the party’s national executive committee meeting in Centurion.

The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) said at the weekend the ruling party was going against its own policies by not embracing nationalisation. Numsa was one of the proponents of nationalisation and land expropriation without compensation.

The union became the first organised formation to call for President Jacob Zuma and the rest of the ANC’s leadership to be changed in the party’s elective conference, to be held in Bloemfontein in December.

Numsa’s deputy general secretary Karl Cloete was quoted by SABC news on Saturday as saying: “They have not been able to drive the implementation of the Polokwane resolutions and therefore we are very clear that we will, in our branches of the ANC, make sure that this current ANC NEC does not return.”

He was referring to the ANC’s last elective conference, held in Polokwane in 2007, at which Zuma was elected party president.

Mantashe described this as “a dangerous and an adventurous position” by Numsa.

‘Dangerous assumption’
“I think we need to make an appeal to everybody to never make that dangerous assumption that it’s them who exist, and the ANC is at the mercy of everybody else,” he said.

“It doesn’t work that way. There is no delegation in the contract of the ANC called a Numsa delegation. There is no such a delegation at the ANC elective conference.”

Mantashe said the union would be invited as a delegation of observers within the Congress of South African Trade Unions. He said unions, league and alliance members would constitute only 10% of the delegation in Bloemfontein.

Ninety percent of delegates would be ANC branch members and would discuss and amend policies and elect leaders.

“Observers can sneak in at night, talk to that and that, but if they are not members of the ANC that influence is limited to lobbying.”

Numsa had since backtracked on its statement, saying it had not taken any vote of confidence against the ANC’s current leadership.

On Sunday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the union would use the party’s democratic processes, ahead of the ANC elective conference, to ensure that leaders who represented the interests of the working class were pushed through party structures.

Mantashe said the thinking behind changing the character of the ANC was nothing but a myth.

“Don’t elevate a myth of takeover of the ANC into a reality.”

He said ANC branches were allowed to discuss and assess the performance of leaders. However, nominations would only be opened in October.

“Discussions are not just banned. We talk about it,” said Mantashe, adding that Numsa was merely voicing an opinion.

He said union members, who were also card-carrying members of the ANC, would only speak as ANC members in Bloemfontein.—Sapa

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