Not mincing words: Gwede Mantashe has berated ANC leaders who
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has taken an indirect swipe at President Jacob Zuma for the party’s decline in electoral support.
In a scathing diagnostic organisational report presented to the ANC’s national executive committee on Tuesday, in preparation for the party’s policy conference starting in Johannesburg on Friday, Mantashe warned ANC leaders not to use the “regime change agenda” narrative to defend the alleged state capture by the Gupta family.
Mantashe revealed that the ANC’s internal survey conducted in the run-up to the 2016 local government elections showed that less than 50% of the population was positive about the direction the country was taking.
Factors that Mantashe says were identified by the research as influencing the mood of the voters are mainly linked to Zuma. They include:
- The December 2015 Cabinet reshuffle, when Zuma removed Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and replaced him with ANC backbencher Des van Rooyen;
- The Constitutional Court decision that Zuma had breached his oath of office by failing to implement former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action to pay back a portion of the public money spent on Nkandla upgrades;
- The spy tapes judgment, when the high court found the decision to halt the prosecution of Zuma on corruption charges was irrational;
- The ongoing scandals relating to the SABC and SAA; and
- The selection of the ANC’s election candidates and the Vuwani protests in Limpopo.
Mantashe said there was a temptation in the governing party to regard the Gupta family’s influence over the decisions of the state as an invasion of privacy and as tampering with personal relations.
“It is correct to state that the Guptas can do business anytime, anywhere with whomsoever, but the relationships with the families of prominent leaders attract the attention of the people,” he said.
“When there are benefits that accrue to families of the leadership, it is assumed to be corrupt in that the political leaders are assumed to have facilitated the accrual of benefits.
“The leadership of the ANC should never be taken by surprise when society reacts to such relations. In our case, we become dismissive and defensive about it,” said Mantashe.
He said some ANC and government leaders remained on the defensive about the family’s influence despite investigations by Madonsela and the South African Council of Churches.
“Serious allegations were made against a number of the leaders of the ANC,” Mantashe said.
“Instead of dealing with the reality facing the movement … a narrative was developed that linked any discomfort with the influence of the Gupta family to the regime change agenda.”
He said that, although regime change is “a real threat”, it should not be used as the standard response when allegations of corruption rear their head.
Linking the regime change narrative to state capture reflected the decline of “our analytical capacity”, Mantashe added.
“The series of emails that are being released in tranches each day are causing more harm [to] the movement.
“Our reaction cannot be careless, but it needs to be comprehensive. Where we must own up, individual comrades should do so as a few have done, and then give a reputable explanation. Blatant denial lacks credibility in the eyes of society,” said Mantashe.
He also lambasted some ANC leaders for using the argument of “white monopoly capital” to counterpose the behaviour of the Gupta family.
“In the process, we invent ‘white monopoly capital’ as a new phenomenon instead of affirming that its defeat is at the heart of the revolution and the essence of the NDR [national democratic revolution].
“The other disadvantage of this narrative is that it uses the lowest common denominator and compares revolutionaries to the apartheid state. If we are comparable, then we must accept that corruption is therefore systemic in our movement, as was the case with the apartheid state,” said Mantashe.