ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete dug into the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) during her address to the party’s North West provincial congress on Saturday, accusing the opposition party of working with some western countries in their quest to take over South Africa.
She further called on ANC branches to prepare themselves to fight the EFF in provincial legislatures and municipalities, where she said the EFF planned to move on to next.
Mbete, who is also the Speaker of the National Assembly, delivered a keynote address to North West’s eighth provincial congress in her capacity as one of the ANC’s top six officials, but appeared to struggle to leave behind the drama that ensued under her watch at last Thursday’s state of the nation address (Sona), when EFF MPs were roughed up and forced out of Parliament by security personnel. This after EFF MPs demanded that President Jacob Zuma answer some questions, particularly on the upgrades at his private Nkandla home, before delivering the annual address.
That action, said Mbete, is part of EFF’s plan to unseat Zuma’s government. “They want to – in their words – collapse Parliament so they can force this country to an early election. They want to take this country so that they must take over the mines and share them with friends they were seen gallivanting with in Europe,” she said. “My question is where will we be when they do that? Who do they think they are?”
Mbete expressed delight at the manner in which EFF MPs were removed from the National Assembly. “The President finally delivered his address after we have had actually a beautiful opportunity to deal with those irritants”.
She also urged branches to get ready to face EFF head-on at local level, fuelling an excited response from delegates who said they were all set for action. “Don’t ever think what’s happening in Parliament has got nothing to do with you in branches. Those thugs there are going to come to provinces to run a similar campaign, not only in legislatures but also in municipalities,” she said. “You must teach our children not to be misled by those wearing red overalls. Those people (EFF) are not working with people of this country alone, they are pawns in a bigger scheme of things where some western governments are involved”.
She said western countries – that she did not name – had an issue with Zuma running the country because he was “a stubborn, rural man from Nkandla who is stubborn and committed to ANC policies. How can a rural man sit with them on international structures?” she asked.
She then accused the media of working with those who want Zuma to leave his job and sustaining the narrative that the ANC has done nothing since it began leading the government.
As part of her strategy to weaken EFF, Mbete said ANC deployees must work hard. “If we don’t work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place”.
Mbete told North West delegates that the ANC and its MPs “knew everything” EFF had planned for Thursday’s state of the nation address because they were tired of being caught by surprise. “We knew everything, including what the red overalls discussed. We knew who was going to stand first and what they were going to say”.
This could explain why Mbete had a readily available, brief, written question on Nkandla that she read out on Thursday night.
In her long speech to the North West congress Mbete also made time to speak against corruption, claiming in the process that she didn’t know anything about tenders. “There is something called tender. I don’t know how it works, but it has really brought out the worst in us”. The ANC was not being given enough credit, she said, for its corruption fighting efforts.
“It is not that the ANC arrived and introduced corruption. After 1994 it became clear that there was a culture of having a smart way of eating money. It’s the ANC that decided this corruption must be dealt with,” she said.
Mbete also called for younger ANC members to give the party’s veterans an opportunity to lead. “There’s a tendency of marginalising veterans in the ANC. Let us value the history that is vested in this group of people”.
The ANC in the North West will today nominate and probably elect additional members to serve on the provincial executive committee.