The ANC’s losses at the polls during the local government elections were not due to service delivery issues but a “trust deficit”, which should be addressed by “any changes” in the party’s leadership at next year’s elective conference, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says.
Mantashe was speaking at the Big Five investors conference in Cape Town where he tackled issues impacting investor confidence, such as the #FeesMustFall protests, last year’s so-called “Nenegate”, calls by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane for an inquiry into the banking sector and public spats between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Hawks.
He said the party had scored some “own goals” which had created the “trust deficit” seen at the polls.
Any new leadership elected at the party’s conference next year would have to “talk to” this issue, he said.
Attempting to allay investor fears, Mantashe said South Africa was “politically stable” as evidenced by the fact that there had been no wars or court challenges to election results.
He said a “strong ANC is good for South Africa” and the party “takes responsibility for its mess”.
He said in coalition governments, there was always room to blame the other party.
Pointing to Nenegate, he said the change had “destroyed value totally and the rand collapsed completely. On day three, as leaders of the ANC, we went to the president and said, ‘Please, swap him with Pravin’, and luckily for us, the president agreed. But nobody acknowledges how decisive that intervention was”.
Mantashe said the party had also told Gordhan and the Hawks to “stop your public spats”, which were affecting investor confidence.
“Our appeal to everyone was, ‘close the door, lock it, throw your key out of the window, sort your problems and come back when you’ve sorted them’.”
He said they had told Gordhan: “You must never paint a picture that you are an institution fighting a government that you are part of.”
Of Zwane’s statements, Mantashe said he had spoken “out of turn”.
He said it was “reckless to discredit one sector where South Africa is doing well”.
On #FeesMustFall, he said those who could afford to pay should pay.
Addressing comments he made that if he had been higher education minister, he would close universities, Mantashe said: “Last week I made a statement that put me in hot water . . . But developments at the University of KZN confirm the correctness of that position.
If you destroy university infrastructure, you are not working for free education, you are actually working against the cause.”