ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has bolstered the anti-corruption campaign ticket in the ANC succession race despite playing his cards close to the chest as time draws nearer for the ANC to choose President Jacob Zuma’s successor.
Mantashe, who is one of the few candidates lobbied by different factions in the eight-horse race to replace Zuma at the ANC national elective conference later in December, urged branch members to choose the new leadership wisely as the governing party finds itself in a mess and urgently needs a transition.
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign has been riding the wave on corruption and Mantashe beat the same path in his address to uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members in KwaThema on Friday, saying that the leadership race provided members with a choice between continued looting or a restoration of the ANC’s founding values.
City Press heard that Ramaphosa’s vociferous approach to corruption has not gone unnoticed in the camp of fellow contender Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, prompting discussions that she may have to start raising issues of corruption so that she distinguishes herself from Zuma and ride the same wave as Ramaphosa.
Dlamini-Zuma, who also enjoyed the backing of Zuma, has so far campaigned on the gender ticket as well as the controversial radical economic transformation.
Mantashe said the necessary transition for the ANC would require branches to ensure that Zuma’s successor was someone who will restore the ANC its values and take the party out of its current quagmire.
He said that as branches get ready to nominate their preferred candidates, members should aim to pick a lineup that gives people hope and send a clear message that there will be no more looting or the ANC will be as good as dead.
“People who can rescue the ANC are it’s members and delegates. If you send delegates that sell out, they will take the R2000 and sell the ANC,” he said.
“We are now in a situation where we need transition, to reinstate ANC and it’s values. In the midst of bringing all these, we must think which one (candidate) will take us out of this quagmire. We can’t send a message that looting must continue”.
“If you have this line up, we must know we are cutting our lives short. But if we agree to a lineup that gives us hope, we know we will be seriously trying to rescue the ANC,” Mantashe said to loud cheers from the crowd.
He took exception to the number of candidates that have raised their hands for the ANC’s top job, saying having eight contenders was sick. “The last time we had this many candidates was in 1952. There were ten candidates then. We cannot have that in 2017. Eight candidates and all of them want to be president is sick.”
“We know our capabilities. So it can’t be that we are so confused that there are eight candidates.
Those in the Dlamini-Zuma camp have differed, saying that the emergence of multiple candidates who are commonly opposed to Zuma was in itself a vote of no confidence on Ramaphosa.
“It means the one thing that unites them is that Zuma must go. But immediately after that they cannot agree on who must take over and if Ramaphosa is the natural heir to the throne then it means they do not think he is different from Zuma,” said an insider in the Dlamini-Zuma camp.
Others said Mantashe was used to a culture in the SACP and trade unions were leadership contest was frowned upon, which exposed that he was not deeply rooted in the ANC’s tradition of open democracy.
However, Mantashe said the fact that there were many candidates opened up space for the ANC to behave like the nationalist party by using dirty tricks to smear others bring for the top seat he charged. This was in reference to alleged extra marital affairs with eight women.
Mantashe went as far as joking about his own campaign which he may launch in October just to unsettle everyone. “If I launch GM17 all of you won’t make it,” he said to ruptured of laughter. “Some take it seriously...but that’s if you want to do something illogical.”
He was stern on the need for branches to be firm in exercising their power, saying they should not be bullied and made fools off by their leaders.
“Because at a branch there are those four people who are treated like kings, who never get questioned and whose views are never contested. When those people have now messed up a branch, the blame is levelled at us at Luthuli House. Then branches march to Luthuli house.”
He said branch members were often mislead whenever manipulation of processes happens.
“Those comrades who manipulate those issues, take a political decision and the effect of that manipulation is the decline of the ANC. Then somebody else must absorb the blame.”
“The responsibility of leadership is not to deny that (fault) but to take that responsibility and always emphasize that, if you keep members of the ANC ignorant, you are thriving out of chaos,” he said.
Mantashe said branches needed to be politicised as “they have power but they don’t use it”. He described those who take brown envelopes “imidlwembe”, for putting the ANC up for sale to the highest bidder.
“Political conscious activists never get bought with money. If you do, ungumdlwembe, you are a fifth column. It means you are here and you are putting the ANC up for sale to the highest bidder”.
“There is nothing revolutionary about that. You are thinking with your stomachs. That we can only deal with by raising the consciousness of our people, individually and collectively.”
He later put the brakes on as the hall broke into a song that endorsed Ramaphosa, but explained this did not mean he was against Ramaphosa. He said the same song sung in Kimberley, but with the words “we are ready for Nkosazana” in Zuma’s presence and he joined in dancing too.
As such, he said he didn’t want to find himself in the same corner. “We asked him [Zuma] what that had to do with him. Now if you want to sing that song, let me go first after the vote of thanks.”
“Not because I’m against [Ramaphosa]. What I’m saying is, to regain the dignity of our organisation, respect is and don’t make it out as though we are the ones who agitate your things,” he said as he chanted “amandla” and got off the stage.