Friday, January 22, 2010

ANC-SACP Update: Mantashe Plays Down Alliance Tensions

ANC's time bomb


The ANC admits that “something is bound to give” if tensions between it and the South African Communist Party are not defused.

The internal report in which the party raises this alarm has surfaced at the same time as the alliance partners have closed ranks and smothered public venting after some ANC delegates were booed at the communists’ special congress in December.

Prepared by national executive committee member and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, the report warns that optimistic public posturing should not distract the party from resolving inter-party problems honestly.

The Mail & Guardian is in possession of the document, which has now caused public bickering after Sexwale said some in the party were trying to disown it.

“While our public standpoint is a correct one, to close ranks, the truth is that we should not do so only to paper over the cracks of ­differences,” Sexwale’s report says. It urges the ANC to address its ­differences with its allies and within the party itself through the “crucible” of debates.

The booing incident could have been resolved amicably, the report says, but became “distracting and destructive” because of “rapidly escalating levels of inter- and intra-alliance political tensions, hostility, mistrust, mutual suspicion, ­disinformation campaigns, public ­slander and other ills that have come to characterise our day-to-day ­political existence”.

The ANC downplayed Sexwale’s report this week, saying the national working committee needs to ­process it with other reports from all ANC delegates to the SACP ­conference.

Sexwale is perceived to be on the side of those who want ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to be removed at the next congress in 2012. The M&G understands that reports from other delegates are expected to ­“neutralise” his document.

Aggrieved comrades

Sexwale expressed his willingness to run for the ANC presidency in 2007, a few months before the Polokwane conference, but later withdrew to support Jacob Zuma. He is therefore seen by some as still preparing to stand for ANC presidency.

A public argument ensued this week in the form of statements sent from the offices of Sexwale and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe about the validity of Sexwale’s report.

“Any suggestion that the report has ‘no status’ in the ANC is both false and dubious -- in fact, it would be mischievous to attempt to disown this report,” said Sexwale in a media statement.

In the report Sexwale says he had a discussion with Mantashe and ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe before compiling the report.

Mantashe and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande receive severe criticism in the report for offering, after the heckling of ANC delegates at the SACP congress, an intervention that was “advisory” rather than “condemning”.

“It would not be far-fetched to describe their intervention as less than equal to the situation, clearly leaving the targeted comrades still feeling aggrieved,” Sexwale’s report reads.

He warns that divisions within the ANC’s lower structures could explode if the party continues to downplay the seriousness of internal battles. While it was a blessing that none of the speakers at the ANC’s recent 98th birthday celebrations were booed, “sooner or later, in this unhappy atmosphere, something is bound to give”, Sexwale writes.

“How long should the people endure a situation where day in and day out national discourse is dominated by tripartite alliance bickering, back-biting and butchering of individual reputations?” his report asks.

The ANC’s national working ­committee will discuss Sexwale’s report with others from ANC delegates to the SACP conference and table a combined report to the NEC before the party meets the communist party to iron out the differences.

'Nothing wrong with Mantashe's two hats'

Veteran South African Communist Party leader and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Thenjiwe Mtintso has joined the battle over communist influence in the ANC by stoutly defending the ruling party’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe.

Justifying Mantashe’s “two hats” -- he is also SACP chairperson -- Mtintso said there is nothing wrong with holding senior positions in the ANC and the SACP simultaneously.

Mtintso, South Africa’s ambassador in Rome, was formerly the ANC’s deputy secretary general while an SACP central committee member.

Interviewed this week, she said leaders should use the language of the party they are representing when they speak.

“When I’m in the ANC I report to the ANC; when I get to the SACP I analyse what was discussed without being the informer,” she said.

Mantashe has come under heavy fire over his two positions, with ANC Youth League president Julius Malema leading the charge.

Mtintso asked why there were no perceived contradictions when Joe Slovo, former SACP general secretary, served on the ANC NEC and became housing minister.

“When he built houses did he build communist houses? No. He was working and speaking as an ANC minister.”

She said: “Why do people question whether you’re speaking as an ANC or SACP leader when we’re one?”

Tensions between Malema and Mantashe were exacerbated by the heckling of members of an ANC delegation that included the youth leader at the recent SACP congress in Polokwane.

Malema insisted that he spoke to Mantashe as ANC secretary general when voicing his unhappiness, despite Mantashe attending the event as an SACP delegate. The youth leader then walked out.

Mtintso said she had rebuked communist delegates at the party’s 10th congress in 1998 when they sang anti-Gear (growth, employment and redistribution strategy) songs as former president Nelson Mandela arrived to address the conference.

She had defended Mandela against humiliation by communist delegates who wanted to debate the policy in his presence.

“I decided that I should be the one to articulate the views of the communist party on Gear. I was chairing that session, I was not representing the ANC.”

She had told Mandela that the SACP might not recognise the part of his speech that warned alliance partners against public attacks on the ANC over Gear.

The ANC NEC later discussed whether Mtintso should have articulated the views of the ­communist party while holding the position of ANC deputy secretary general. Despite this, said Mtintso, the ­alliance continued to function ­normally.

“The truth is that we do not want capitalists, but we stay with them because they are part of the ­struggle.”

However, Mtintso acknowledged that it was sometimes hard to ­satisfy both sides while holding two ­positions.

She supported Mantashe’s decision to deny Malema an opportunity to address the SACP congress.

“Some think he should have allowed Malema to talk, some of us think that he should not have allowed him to talk. I think he [Mantashe] managed it well.”

Mtintso said it was the fight for state resources that was behind the “artificial” two-hats debate.

“When you compete you want to find any stone that you can throw at the next person.”

The debate died down outside election and congress times, but came up during “the internal distributing of positions”.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Mantashe plays down alliance tensions


The leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) will not be drawn into "street fights" over positions, the party's secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, said in Johannesburg on Monday.

"We are not going to get into that street fight," he said, referring to reports that Mantashe was falling out of favour as secretary general.

He said reports that the ANC Youth League was against him were "neither here nor there".

Mantashe watered down tensions within the ruling alliance between the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

He dismissed weekend reports indicating that President Jacob Zuma was called upon at the weekend national executive committee (NEC) meeting to intervene and call for unity or else the ANC would "implode".

Mantashe, in his report back on the party's weekend lekgotla (meeting), said it had reaffirmed the position of the January 8 statement that the ANC, as "the leader of the alliance and strategic centre of power, must take responsibility for providing political direction to the alliance".

"The NEC will initiate a broad discussion on the history, law and current tasks of the alliance and its constituent past as a matter of urgency.

"We must manage the contradictions inherent to the alliance in a manner that builds the unity of purpose, understanding of distinct roles and programmes of each component," he said.

He also urged alliance members to conduct themselves in a "manner befitting revolutionaries", and called on them to respect each other's organisational integrity, enforce discipline, avoid public spats and resolve problems within bilateral and other alliance forums.

He said last year's booing of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and NEC member Billy Masetlha at an SACP conference would be discussed in a bilateral meeting with the SACP. The meeting would take place once the ANC's national working committee had seen the report from the ANC delegation that attended the conference.

ANC head of policy Jeff Radebe said the report would determine how the ANC engaged its ally during the meeting.

Radebe said the focus of the NEC meeting was on how the ANC would work differently in future.

"The issue of performance measurement is one of the paramount approaches ... what we are interested in is the implementation of ANC policies," he said.

Radebe reiterated that the relationship within the ruling alliance was strengthened after the Polokwane conference in 2007, adding that there was a need to cement the strong relations at provincial and local level.

'A process, not an event'

The ANC's top brass also agreed with the January 8 statement on municipal employees holding leadership positions in political parties. Zuma, speaking in Kimberley at the ANC's 98th anniversary celebrations, said the party intended to make local government a key focus for service provision in 2010.

"We are of the view that municipal employees should not hold leadership positions in political parties ... and we will tighten our deployment procedures to ensure that we deploy comrades with political integrity and professional competence."

This was criticised by the South African Municipal Workers' Union last week, who felt that the ANC was attempting to "de-politicise and de-unionise" municipalities.

The ANC's 10-point plan to turn around local government, which had been debated within the party since last year, would go to Cabinet and a local government summit in April for further discussion.

"Turnaround in itself is a process, not an event," Mantashe said.

The ANC wanted to prevent a repeat of the 2009 service-delivery protests around the country.

The NEC also agreed that the ANC, "as opposed to government", needed to come up with a mechanism to monitor and review the performance of its members deployed in government.

The outcome of the NEC lekgotla would guide a Cabinet lekgotla to take place next Wednesday, as well as Zuma's State of the Nation address in February.

"In the words of ANC president comrade Jacob Zuma, '2010 is the year of action for effective service delivery to help people, and there will be no room for cynicism, laziness, lamenting and incompetence'," Mantashe said. -- Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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ANC Youth League targets Mantashe

MANDY ROSSOUW - Jan 15 2010 14:28

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) is planning a fightback against the so-called "hostile left takeover" of the ANC and has developed a plan to weaken ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe -- who also serves as the chairperson of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The league is disappointed with the way in which President Jacob Zuma handled the public spat between ANC and SACP members, ANCYL insiders say. The brawling reached a crescendo when delegates at December's SACP special congress in Polokwane booed ANCYL president Julius Malema off the stage.

"Zuma is not leading the organisation as we expected him to," a youth league insider told the Mail & Guardian. "He is not protecting the organisation from the left, because he has debts to pay with them. When he needed support after he was fired, he just accepted help from everyone, and now he is paying for that."

The insider was quick to point out that this did not mean the league wanted to unseat Zuma -- but rather that it wants him to play a decisive leadership role.

Zuma made only vague statements about the unity of the alliance at the ANC's birthday celebrations in Kimberley last weekend, where it was clear that tensions between Malema and the SACP have not been resolved. Master of ceremonies Fikile Mbalula, the deputy police minister, had to ask the rebel SACP attendees to stop singing struggle songs so that the birthday cake could be cut.

He also asked ANC members who received the party's annual awards to put away banners reading "Hands Off Our Youth League President!" while they were on stage receiving trophies.

Given Zuma's perceived lack of decisive action, the league has decided to take matters into its own hands and "take the ANC back". At the same time it will promote Mbalula, its choice for ANC secretary general in 2012.

The plan takes aim at Mantashe, whom league insiders say has divided loyalties because of his dual SACP and ANC roles. "The first step is to weaken him, to make sure that the avenues through which he can build support [are] closed down," said one insider.

At branch level, the ANCYL has already started warning ordinary ANC members of the "rooi gevaar", urging them to ensure that Mantashe is not returned as secretary general.

"We will make sure he does not get opportunities to speak at branch meetings," one league leader told the M&G.

"He has access to branches because at the end of the day he audits them to check whether they are allowed to go to [the 2012 elective] conference.

"But we will make sure that our delegates go there. Even the communists in the branches will be isolated."

Step two will be to continue to attack Mantashe's dual role in the ANC and SACP by claiming that it is untenable for a modern organisation such as the ANC to have a leader with other responsibilities as well.

"We will make sure that people keep that in the back of their minds all the time," the ANCYL leader said.

Prominent communists such as SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande will not receive invitations to speak at branches. "We will not invite them. Even in my branch, I will make sure they don't come here," an ANCYL branch chairperson in Gauteng told the M&G.

While denouncing Mantashe, the league will promote Mbalula, showing how he has risen to power within the ANC and government in a short time and has managed to make the ANC more youth-friendly, modern and forward-looking, insiders say.

"People know Mbalula and know that he came through the ANC ranks. Even if he is young, he represents the real ANC."

Some in the ANCYL suggest the league is quietly acknowledging that former president Thabo Mbeki's strategy of keeping the communists "in their place" obviated the "hostile takeover by the left" that some in the ANC now fear.

The ANC's national general council is due to take place in September, and it is here that the youth league's push to nationalise mines will be discussed.

Although the general council has the power to revisit leadership positions, the league will bide its time until the 2012 conference before formally putting up its candidate.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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