The ANC, faced with a credibility crisis ahead of next year’s local government elections, has given its integrity committee more powers to discipline members who bring the party into disrepute.
The party also wants its members to desist from making pronouncements on the names of preferred candidates to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC president in 2017.
Traditionally, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa would have been an automatic successor to Zuma. However, the newly elected ANC Women’s League president and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini – with the support of the so-called Premier League – has publicly pronounced the league’s preference to have a woman candidate as the next ANC leader.
Gauteng ANC chair Paul Mashatile has said he preferred Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma. The succession debate in the ANC is likely to deepen divisions within the faction-ridden governing party.
With public confidence in the country’s political leadership falling, the ANC will face the toughest test yet going into next year’s local government elections. The party has recorded a significant decline in electoral support since 2009 and the trend is expected to continue during next year’s local government elections.
Threat to ANC cohesion
Addressing journalists in Johannesburg on Monday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend was united on the need to deal decisively with the internal challenges confronting the organisation. They drew focus away from its historic mission of building a united, nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
“Corruption, [perceived or real], factionalism, political ill-discipline and the use of money to subvert internal democratic processes were identified as posing a very serious and real danger to the unity and cohesion of the ANC,” said Mantashe.
He said the NEC meeting emphasised the need for a united and cohesive ANC with the determination and capacity to effect radical transformation by recommitting itself to its traditions of a vibrant internal democracy and collective leadership among other things.
Integrity commission to make decisions
Mantashe said unlike before, the ANC’s Integrity Commission, chaired by Rivonia trialist and former Robben Island prisoner Andrew Mlangeni, would now make decisions rather than just recommendations on what needed to happen to those who brought the party into disrepute.
The commission, which was established in March 2013, was meant to be the first port of call for all corruption allegations made against any party member. But the ANC has admitted that there has been resistance to implementing the commission’s recommendations.
“Only one recommendation of the integrity commission has been implemented to date and all the others have been ignored”, stated the party’s national working committee report, which was presented to the NEC in May.
Mantashe said the commission would now be given more power to make decisive decisions on members facing serious allegations.
“The NEC directed that moving forward, the Integrity Commission must present its decisions to the national officials after which they will be implemented, avoiding the current long processes. Members of the organisation implicated in wrongdoing are expected to consider the implications of the allegations leveled against them on the reputation and integrity of the ANC.
“Members, notwithstanding the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, are expected at all times to carry themselves out in a manner that sends an unambiguous message to society that the ANC does not tolerate any wrongdoing, including corruption, among its members.”
Changes to subcommittees
Mantashe also announced changes made on its subcommittees to strengthen the functioning of the NEC.
Former ANC spin doctor Jackson Mthembu, who is now an MP, has made a comeback to the communication subcommittee as its head, while small business minister Lindiwe Zulu was moved from communication to head the drafting subcommittee.
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs deputy minister Obed Bapela was replaced by environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa as head of the international relations subcommittee while water affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane replaced home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba as head of elections and campaigns subcommittee. The economic transformation subcommittee was split into two, with Enoch Godongwana heading economic development planning and rural development minister Gugile Nkwinti heading energy, primary sector and infrastructure.
Mantashe said the party would establish an economic reference group consisting of economists, with the aim of providing support to the economic cluster.
Deployment in eThekwini
Meanwhile, Mantashe said the ANC will reinforce its deployees in KwaZulu-Natal ahead of the eThekwini regional conference from October 24 to 25 and the provincial conference which will take place from November 5 to 8. “Ten NEC members have been deployed to the troubled province to assist with the management of ANC branch general meetings [BGMs].”
The eThekwini conference was postponed several times in the past few months as infighting and violence incidents by different ANC factions in the province played themselves out in the battle for the control of the party’s largest region. eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo narrowly beat former regional treasurer Zandile Gumede for the position of regional chairperson in the last conference, which was later nullified. The contest in eThekwini has direct implications for the party’s national elections in 2017.
Gumede is supported by ANC provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala who is supported by the ANC Youth League in the province to replace KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu as provincial chairman. Zikalala has been linked to the Premier League, which has been lobbying for a woman candidate to succeed Zuma as ANC president in 2017.
Members of the Premier League are known to be North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza. Mchunu is believed to be sympathetic to those who are pushing for Ramaphosa to replace Zuma.
KZN youth league
Mantashe said the NEC expressed itself strongly against “the unbecoming and divisive tendencies” of the ANC Youth League in KZN, which has publicly called for Mchunu to be removed and be replaced by Zikalala as ANC chair. Mantashe said the NEC was satisfied with the preparations towards the party’s national general council (NGC) – a mid-term policy review.
“The NEC is confident that the NGC will provide a platform for reflection on the progress in implementing the transformative programmes of the ANC. It will also engage rigorously on challenges facing South Africa and the effectiveness of our policy responses. Of particular concern is the still depressed global economic climate and the unabated spate of violence directed at women, children and law enforcement officers,” said Mantashe.