ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says four ANC members implicated in the leaked Gupta emails have confirmed the authenticity of the mail exchanges.
Earlier this month the Mail & Guardian reported that Mantashe had started contacting some of implicated ministers to account for their roles in the emails which detailed incidents of possible state interference.
Speaking at the Gauteng ANC’s Policy Conference on Friday, Mantashe said the fact that some of the ministers had confirmed the veracity of the emails and admitted their own involvement was a step in the right direction.
“There’s something positive coming out of those emails. Up to now four of our comrades have owned up to say ‘yes I was there,’” Mantashe said. It didn’t used to happen. We used to just deny blatantly. At least our comrades are owning up. That is the beginning of wisdom.”
Mantashe told delegates that the planned Judicial Commission of Inquiry into state capture was not intended to hurt anyone, but to separate fact from false allegations.
Implicated ministers include Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi, Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba
The Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has said it welcomed the commission of inquiry which chairperson Paul Mashatile said would “go a long way in ensuring that comrades who are accused of malfeasances are afforded an opportunity to clear their names and we put this ugly saga behind us”.
The three-day conference will give the ANC in the province an opportunity to consolidate policy proposals made by its six regions ahead of the party’s National Policy Conference next week.
Mantashe said the ANC needed a more scientific approach to its policies to prevent it from deviating towards populist policies in an effort to hold on to support.
Giving an example of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF political party and its poorly handled land expropriation programme, Mantashe warned that the ANC was headed in the same direction if it hoped quick policy fixes would solve its problems.
“Revolutionary as it [Zanu PF] was, it must now find something that will make a good campaign, It dishes out land and destroys food production,” he said.
“It [the expropriation policy] is fresh, it’s popular, but Zimbabwe is a net food importer. I’m raising that, comrades, because that is where we are drifting to.”
The ANC has affirmed its commitment towards the second phase of its National Democratic Revolution, which among other things involves the quest for radical socioeconomic transformation.
One of the proposed elements of radical transformation is the exploration of land expropriation without compensation.
Mantashe reminded delegates that the ANC had never been against white people, but against white domination and thus, policies needed to be focused on rectifying injustices of the past, not seeking revenge.
He warned that a lack of clarity around the scope and focus of the radical approach was likely to cause a split at the policy conference.
“We are going to see two streams that will be fighting there. One will be one that is pushing the ANC into adventurism and populism and another stream that will be pushing the ANC to be conservative and [to] say ‘leave the status quo,’” he said.
“It is these extreme positions that are going to trample on the ANC and the ANC will be ash.”
Mashatile urged delegates to not just review existing policies for the sake of it but to consider the question of implementation and whether already appropriate policies were being impeded by the slow pace of application.
“My take is that the issue is less about policies per se but more about their implementation. It would therefore be prudent that we cast our focus more on how best to implement our policies if we are to remain relevant,” Mashatile said.
Although this weekend’s conference will focus on issues of policy, it will also offer delegates an opportunity to reflect on the state of the ANC and leadership within the party.
One of the matters that will be discussed this weekend is a proposal to strengthen the party’s head office by introducing a second deputy president and having three deputy secretary generals.
On the issue of succession both Mantashe and Mashatile urged delegates to avoid the use of lobby groups and factions in electing new leaders once the nominations process opened.
The ANC in Gauteng is known to be critical of President Jacob Zuma and his leadership. Last year, following the Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla, Mashatile called on Zuma to “do the right thing” and step down from his position.
The province has been mentioned as one of those likely to support Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma.
However, Mantashe warned that removing Zuma would not guarantee an immediate solution to the ANC’s problems.
“The ANC is under siege from forces including others believing that the only solution for the ANC is the removal of Jacob Zuma. That if Zuma can go there will be no problems,” Mantashe said.
“I want to put this point — I know that it may not be popular in Gauteng, but I must say it. It’s a myth comrades. It’s a myth.”
Meanwhile delegates at the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial General Council also happening this weekend gave a hero’s welcome to Zuma, Gigaba and presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who attended the opening of the three-day gathering.
With the province saying unity would be at the top of its agenda, Zuma told delegates that the cause of divisions within the ANC was the quest for financial gain and cautioned party members against electing leaders wanting to enrich themselves.