/ 29 September 2017

#ANCEC – Masualle fails to inspire, SACP steals the show

Premier Phumulo Masualle is embroiled in the Mandela funeral funds scandal.
Premier Phumulo Masualle is embroiled in the Mandela funeral funds scandal.

Outgoing ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Phumulo Masualle failed to rouse support in his political address to delegates at the party’s conference, as the SACP was cheered on for its criticism of state capture and the tripartite alliance.

Masualle delivered the opening address to the gathering in East London, which was delayed for nearly ten hours over verification of delegations.

In an address that was punctuated by light applause, Masualle told delegates that the conference should reflect on the leadership over the past four years, appraise its performance and decide how to move forward.

He said under his stewardship, the Eastern Cape ANC’s leadership remained united.

“Over this period of time, we have managed to lead a very stable ship as the leadership giving over the affairs of the ANC,” Masualle said, before admitting that their leadership had also made mistakes.

“We have made mistakes in the course of that work, those mistakes were mistakes made in good faith. No malice. We are human. We are therefore not infallible. There’s no pope here.”

Critiquing the state of the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and South African Communist Party (SACP), Masualle said the movement had become a “pale shadow of its former self”.

“If we proceed as we do, we are heading in the wrong direction. Could be concluded as an unfortunate dereliction of duty.”

The problems within the ANC and the alliance were already debated at the party’s national policy conference in the so-called diagnostic report by secretary general Gwede Mantashe. Despite this, Masualle said, ANC members have not improved their behaviour.

“You would think that having said so much to ourselves about ourselves, it would mitigate our behaviour after that. The truth is that it has not,” he said.

The ANC Eastern Cape chairperson said the emergence of “warlords” and a “new pervasive culture of fear is being imposed including the use of threats against those who dare to stand their ground against corruption.”

Internally, Masualle warned that the disbandment of the ANC Youth League in the Eastern Cape could mark the beginning of the death of the ANC.

“An organisation that is dying starts with the killing of its youth wing. We should as conference, look to how we bring back life into this important entity of our movement,” Masualle added. He also raised concern that the ANC was losing support in urban centers, such as Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, where it lost power in the 2016 local government elections.

But his speech failed to inspire delegates, some of whom slated him for not mentioning the specific examples of state capture or the political changes in the province.

The SACP’s secretary in the province Xolile Nqatha did not mince words.

Beginning with a description of capitalism as a “dog eat dog and zama-zama mentality”, he warned against “radical economic looting,” and defending the SACP’s decision to publicly criticize corruption and state capture.

He said the SACP also faced a “revolt from the floor” at its congress because its members described the leadership as “self serving”.

“This discontent, we have seen what you can call a mini revolt in the SACP’s congress, a revolt from the floor against the leadership. The call for state capture is the a reflection of the growing discontent with the ruling elites internationally,” he said to loud applause and cheers.

Nqatha also warned that if leaders aren’t able to criticize wrongdoing while they are in power, no-one will listen to them when they lose power.

In a parting shot that sparked cheers and a standing ovation by most delegates, Nqatha said the fears of regime change may be too late.

“We might be scared of regime change not realising it has already happen. When the Guptas can make appointments and fire people, that’s regime change!”