JOHANNESBURG, June 30 – A combative President Jacob Zuma used his opening remarks at the ANC’s national policy conference on Friday, to hit back at a section of the party’s stalwarts who have been raising vociferous opposition to his leadership and the current state of the party.
“They have decided to have their own. I don’t know what it means but I will be really unfair if I don’t say this. Many of us have controlled ourselves, not to respond to these comrades, because we know them. Some of them are not as strong as they project themselves to be. We know them, but because we are keeping to the discipline of the organisation, we are not engaging them in public. And we will never engage them,” said Zuma to cheers from the delegates.
“I’m just talking here because these [the delegates] are the branches so that you know that this is what happened. In fact, quite a number of them, when they talk to the media they said there is no leadership in this country and they are very convinced that they are the leaders and people leading at the moment are just administrators. But that’s fine.”
Zuma said the section of veterans mostly communicate with the African National Congress leadership through the media.
“It’s very funny. It’s like now they are a real organisation operating, I am sure there must be an office or something. I don’t know, I’m just guessing but they are very organised. They organise the media, in fact they communicate with us through the media in the majority of cases. I was they said the level of the discussions here will be at their level, they need serious discussion,” said Zuma.
“So these are people who claim they have the values and the understanding of the ANC but the branches that are this organisation here, they think no it’s just riffraff. They want a discussion at a very high level.”
Zuma said that members of the disgruntled veterans “think they have power and everything”.
“We had a discussion, in an attempt to meet their request, much as it was really done funny by people who profess to be knowing the ANC. But we said maybe they had reasons. We had a discussion with them and ended up with a compromised decision that in the days we normally have the policy conference, we add two days, so that the first two days we would come with them and they would participate and discuss their concerns and the concerns of all of us,” said Zuma.
“They were later joined by some comrades who are former MK who call themselves a council. We had agreed that this would happen, but they decided that no, this [the ongoing policy conference] is not what they want. They want their own.”
The aggrieved veterans held their media briefing on Thursday where they indicated that they would not be attending the first two days of the national policy conference which kicked off in Friday.
They said they were planning a consultative conference set for September.
Another ANC structure, the Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) national council has resolved to snub the entire five-fay-long conference, with its chairperson Siphiwe Nyanda labelling it a “futile exercise”. The council said only a special consultative conference would save Africa’s oldest liberation movement.
President Jacob Zuma on Friday said the 5th national policy conference of the African National Congress (ANC) must consider the matter of various forms of ill-discipline, particularly certain “ANC leaders” who make negative public utterances against the governing party, and factionalism.
“Factionalism is a cancer that must be rooted out of the ANC. It has caused splits from the ANC which has negatively affected us both quantitatively and qualitatively. Slate politics, another manifestation of factionalism, has cost us many good and capable comrades in whom our movement has invested significantly,” said Zuma.
“We also need to look at the issue of ill-discipline in various forms, including public utterances attacking the movement by ANC leaders and members instead of handling matters within the organization and finding constructive solutions. Some members and leaders of the ANC have become primary conveyors of negative information about their own movement.
Zuma said “this irresponsible perpetual negative messaging by our own people” has a negative impact on the South African economy.
“We need to discuss how we can balance our valued trait of self-criticism with the need to protect the ANC and provide it with the space to resolve problems in a more organized manner,” he said.
“We also need to be able to differentiate between self-criticism and the furtherance of certain interests and agendas.”
Zuma also charged delegates at the policy conference to assist the governing party to renew itself by finding ways to cleanse itself from negative elements which have crept in.
“To restore and maintain its character, the African National Congress needs to cleanse itself of the negative tendencies which have crept in over the years. These tendencies, which have been outlined before, include patronage, corruption, social distance, factionalism, abuse of power and membership system anomalies such as the reported manipulation of the membership data, gate keeping and bulk buying of membership,” said Zuma.
Regarding the dwindling support base of the governing party, Zuma said the ongoing conference must earnestly diagnose the ANC and do honest self-introspection.
“Our movement suffered a serious setback in the August 3, 2016 local government elections and experienced a decline of about eight percent of the national vote.
Our discussions here will reflect on these elections for lessons to be drawn and solutions to be found. We lost control of some key metropolitan municipalities including Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Zuma.
“In Ekurhuleni we managed to form a coalition to retain control of the council.
Opposition parties formed coalitions to wrest control from our party. Part of the focus on renewal is aimed at enabling the ANC to regain that lost ground. The good news is that this week we managed to win Mogale City back as the ANC.”
Zuma said since August 2016, members and supporters of the ANC have – out of pain and genuine concern – been engaged in varying degrees of robust discussions about what has gone wrong with “their beloved movement”, and how the party was outwitted in the metros.
“The National Executive Committee meeting in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the results attributed our loss of support to perceptions in society that we are soft on corruption, we are self-serving and that the ANC is arrogant. These are based on research findings we had undertaken before the elections, which proved to be correct,” said Zuma.
“We also visit many parts of the country and people tell us what the problems are. They do complain about ANC leaders and deployees who fail to make time to talk to them and listen to their problems. This does not apply to all deployees or government officials, but one dismissive and arrogant ANC leader or official implementing ANC policies is one too many.”
President Jacob Zuma on Friday charged the 5th national policy conference of the African National Congress (ANC) to deepen discussion on ways to reignite the ailing South African economy.
“This policy conference takes place at a difficult period economically in our country. The economy has entered a technical recession. At the time of the budget in February, the economy was expected to grow at a low 1,3 percent in 2017. Given current difficulties, even this low growth rate may now not be achieved,” Zuma said as he addressed the conference being held at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.
“Our deliberations at this conference on the economy need to look at what needs to be done to reignite growth over the next five years.”
In his opening remarks at the landmark conference, Zuma, however, said the 2017 conference was taking a place against the backdrop of progress made in “consolidating democracy” in South Africa.
Security was tight at the conference which has drawn several thousand delegates from all corners of South Africa.
– African News Agency (ANA)