Bheki Cele is embarrassed by the ANC national executive committee’s failure to lead the organisation, resulting in members having to turn to the courts.
“We must be embarrassed, I am embarrassed. History will have to punish us for allowing the courts to lead us,” Cele said.
The deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, who is also an NEC member, was addressing branches of the ANC in Umlazi on Sunday ahead of this week’s long-awaited court case against the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial structure.
Members of the ANC in the province will attempt to have a 2015 provincial conference nullified, citing irregularities in its process. Former premier and chairperson Senzo Mchunu was ousted at the conference, which elected current chairperson Sihle Zikalala and the current provincial executive committee.
The aggrieved members are calling for the removal of the current provincial executive committee, along with the reversal of all decisions taken by them since their appointment. The case will be heard by a full bench at the Pietermaritzburg High Court from Wednesday to Friday.
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking this case is about certain people. It is about the ANC and its failure to lead as the ANC. The ANC NEC must accept that we are responsible for this case. We are responsible for the case in the Free State. We are failing to lead,” Cele said to loud cheers in the packed hall.
He said that the NEC had proved repeatedly that it did not have capacity to deal with disputes brought before it by members. He said that members went to the courts because they ran out of options.
“We abandon our duties and then cry foul when we must report to judges. Your problems are not solved by the ANC NEC but by judges. What a failure. What a failure of the ANC leadership in the year 2017. We are failures, we are,” he charged.
Cele said that the failure to lead was taking place not only in the organisation but in government as well. Referring to the South Africa Social Security Agency debacle, the deputy minister lamented that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini had to account to the Constitutional Court for putting at risk the delivery of social grants to millions of South Africans.
Cele named the obsession with succession and positions as the culprit that distracted the ANC leadership from carrying out their tasks.
“I don’t care who says what, we have a divided, factional ANC. Factions start at the top with the top six. This is no longer [Oliver] Tambo’s ANC. We don’t spend time correcting things. We are busy running around saying: ‘Pick this one’ or: ‘Pick that one’.”
Cele said that the case must be used as an opportunity to unite the ANC, calling for the victors to be “humble” and to prioritise the unity of the organisation above everything else.
“If we continue to fail you, don’t stop taking us to court. Do it until we learn to lead. This thing of dismissing people who go to court, you should be saying dismiss them [the NEC] as well. I hope and wish that the next NEC leads so that the ANC does not have to rely on the courts,” Cele said.