Expose dodgy funders, says ANC

Scathing attack launched on ‘cancer’ within party ‘fuelled by greed, hunger for power’

ON A MISSION: President Jacob Zuma delivers the opening address at the ANC’s fourth national general conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand yesterday. PICTURE: AFP
ON A MISSION: President Jacob Zuma delivers the opening address at the ANC’s fourth national general conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand yesterday. PICTURE: AFP

THE ANC wants to name and shame business kingpins who fund some of its leaders to run divisive political campaigns, “throwing dirt at imaginary enemies”, all in exchange for government tenders.

The party believes naming the culprits is one way of dealing with rife factionalism, which President Jacob Zuma said was a cancer fuelled by greed and hunger for power.

Whether the party has the will to do so, however, is yet to be seen as political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said factionalism thrived because some of its most senior leaders benefited from its wheeling and dealing.

The party’s organisational report by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, presented to about 4 000 delegates yesterday, details how factions have become so brazen that even at conferences, hotels are booked according to which faction one belongs to.

Those belonging to a certain faction will, for example, get “better” accommodation than what the financially troubled ruling party has to offer.

The report says instead of dealing with factions, the ANC formalises them, even spending money on plane tickets and hotels for certain groupings to hold divisive meetings.

ANC delegates across the country are meeting in Midrand for the party’s national general conference (NGC).

Delivering his political report yesterday, Zuma was scathing about how ANC factions often had nothing to do with ideological differences, but were about power, scoring state resources and boosting business interests.

In the report, Mantashe wrote: “We have observed the corporate capture of the organisation at all levels, where businesspeople fund individual leaders, their campaigns and popularise them by spending huge resources, throwing dirt at imaginary enemies in the organisation.

“The [national executive committee] decided that this must be confronted and culprits named publicly.”

Mantashe also said that if the ANC’s support plunged below 60% in next year’s local government elections‚ this would mark a “psychological and political turning point” for the party.

Mantashe predicted that ANC voter turnout would continue to slide‚ like last year, and warned against complacency and selecting the wrong candidates to represent the party.

He said urban voter turnout had grown over the last decade‚ compared with rural voter turnout. This implied that rural votes weighed less in the national total than they used to.

“This should be a matter of real concern to the ANC since the rural masses constitute our solid base‚ which has continued to hold. Also‚ the implications are that the movement is not keeping abreast with urbanisation and the urban voters.”

Zuma said: “While celebrating the 2014 electoral victory, we had to acknowledge that our majority has not been growing during each election.

“Some of our traditional voters have, in recent years, become dissatisfied. Some have chosen to abstain during the elections, demonstrating their displeasure while still remaining loyal to the ANC. We must not take this support and loyalty for granted, nor think it will be there forever.

“The NGC needs to undertake a frank assessment of the state of the organisation and identify those issues that make our traditional support base unhappy.

“Internal divisions within the movement have unfortunately exploded into the public arena due to problems that have not been attended to for a very long period of time.”

Zuma said this and other challenges could be the reason why membership had dropped from a million members in 2012 to 769 000 members.

“Another phenomenon we have identified is a problem of members who belong to other members. Their actions are determined by the people they look up to, or who own them.

“The ANC must not tolerate ill-discipline, hooliganism, violence and other negative behaviour.”

Ndletyana said while it was refreshing to hear the ANC speak frankly about its problems, much of its diagnoses had been stated before.

“There is no willingness to deal with these because its leaders, even President Zuma himself, have benefited politically from these kinds of shenanigans.”

–Nwabisa Makunga, Rochelle de Kock and Mkhululi Ndamase, additional reporting by Natasha Marrian

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