ANC members: What should we tell them about Nkandla, e-tolls?

2013-12-05 08:47

Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura has shrugged off questions about the R208 million upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, saying he did not want to get into trouble. Makhura was responding to questions from members of the party’s Liliesleaf branch in Midrand last night, who wanted to know how they should answer when the public asks them about controversial issues such as Nkandla and the e-tolls. Read: ANC crafts election answers The questions were directed to former Reserve Bank governor and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tito Mboweni who suggested Makhura should answer them instead.

Members also wanted to know what the NEC would be discussing at its two-day meeting, which starts tomorrow, when the party is faced with such pressing issues.

Branch chairperson Luther Lebelo said: “When we are doing door-to-door we should say: ‘Comrades, the president did not know about this one’? We want to know what is the political response on Nkandla, to e-tolls, to everything. Not the technical response.”

Lebelo also told the meeting that anyone who was happy with the state of the ruling party needed to see a psychiatrist – a view Mboweni partially agreed with.

Makhura told the meeting, which was attended by both the branch members and members from neighbouring branches, that it was too late in the day “to explain Guptagate and Nkandla and e-tolls”.

“I am not a diplomat, unlike him (Mboweni). Members of the branch know (that) I am very brutal.

“Because he (City Press journalist Sabelo Ndlangisa) is sitting here I won’t deal with Nkandla because I will tell the truth. If I was to say what my view of the problem (is), I think we will be in big trouble. Instead of solving the problem, we will just be in big trouble,” he said.

Makhura said the branch needed to have a proper conversation without journalists attending.

“When there is a problem in the family you don’t go to the streets and talk. You sit in the house and solve the problem,” he said.

Earlier, Mboweni praised the ANC’s achievements in office over the past 20 years – including stabilising the economy after 1994 – but said he sometimes wishes they had not gone into government as this had changed some people for the worst.

“The ANC is facing challenges primarily from within. In the Mbokodo, comrades in exile used to say, ‘kune ngawo lemfene’ (something has gone horribly wrong).

“Through our own action and inaction we are beginning to undermine the integrity of the movement ... When comrades become ministers, it looks like they lose their drivers’ licences. They don’t know how to drive cars, and it looks like their own people have become enemies.

“They lose sight of the difference between private money and state money,” he said.

Mboweni said, in exile, party members paid for their own alcohol, adding that this culture should have been carried into government in 1994 when the ANC got into power.

“But despite all these problems, big as they are, some of our comrades in government work very hard. Extremely hard. They maintain some of the highest ethical standards,” he said.

He said his experience in the private sector had taught him how hard people in government work for salaries that are lower than what their private sector counterparts get paid.

The expanding black middle class was created by ANC policies, he said, even though now the party will have to fight the DA to keep its votes.

“The overall picture at the macro-level is one of significant development. But I am not quite certain where the weight is going to be in the elections between macro-economic success and the own goals that we score,” he said.

Mboweni said he would use the election campaign to tell the story of economic success, but said his comrades should go “and sort out these other things about those things”, in a veiled reference to issues such as Nkandla.

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