Integrity guides the ANC

2013-01-20 10:00

Demonising members of the NEC is a disservice to your readers

City Press last week published a feature – “The ANC’s naughty executive committee” – that was nothing but an attempt to demonise politicians elected to the party’s national executive committee (NEC) in December.

This is not the type of article one would expect from City Press, which has a sterling history as the voice of the dispossessed masses.

The article was a missed opportunity to educate your readers about the workings of this august body that drives the policies of the ruling party between conferences.

The newspaper would have done its readers a favour if it had analysed the skill sets of various NEC members and how these were likely to impact on policy implementation, sorely needed in this country.

Instead, the piece was a selective hodge podge that singled out certain NEC members as “naughty”, a problematic tag with no place in serious political reporting.

A lot is expected from NEC members and it must be borne in mind that we are here as a result of the trust placed in us by ANC branches following an exhaustive process that culminated in a national conference.

It was covered by more than 800 accredited journalists who witnessed the internal democracy and transparency of the governing party first-hand.

For the record, the ANC is led by men and women of great stamina and integrity. The 53rd national conference also took the unprecedented and voluntary decision to establish an integrity committee to deal with some of the challenges of incumbency.

This commendable step has already been hailed by even some of the ANC’s loudest detractors.

Be that as it may, those of us who are in the “service of people” through politics also have a responsibility to help this government deal with myriad challenges, such as unemployment and poverty. This responsibility cannot be left to big business alone.

It is for all of us, labour, non-governmental organisations, academia and indeed the media to help this country reach its potential, grow the economy and create employment for our people.

In fact, it will be interesting if the media revealed which opposition politicians are involved in private dealings.

However, one thing remains clear: the liberal media has a problem accepting the outcome of the ANC’s national conference.

Since the Polokwane conference, we have seen a media that creates bogeymen, such as the latter-day Anything But Zuma campaign and the Forces of Change, in a clear attempt to sow conflict and portray factions as bigger than the sum of their numbers.

The media also misled the public by shoring up a splinter group that surfaced after the Polokwane conference, which faded after the 2009 national elections.

Following the outcome of the Mangaung conference, the battle has now moved to demonising those who have been elected by the ANC branches in a democratic process.

The media is welcome to critique and indeed criticise the ANC and its leaders.

However, there is a problem when the media flies a kite to delegitimise the democratic processes of a voluntary organisation such as the ANC by tagging its leaders as “naughty”, who presumably could be set right by a little spanking.

It cannot be coincidental that the article was printed during the weekend when the ANC was celebrating its annual calendar event: the January 08 statement.

But this year’s event, which was also the ANC’s celebration of its 101st birthday, attracted more people than expected inside and outside Kings Park Stadium, a clear testimony of how ordinary people continue to believe in and embrace the ANC as the only political party that can deliver them from intractable social maladies to a life of true emancipation and liberty.

Being a member of any of the ANC’s leadership structures carries enormous responsibility to translate the decisions of the conferences into implementable programmes of government at all levels.

It is common to hear people saying the ANC is a broad church, and the organisation continues to attract members from different economic, academic, religious and societal persuasions.

They are only united in being ANC members, but they remain private citizens, free to pursue private interests as they so wish.

This includes dabbling in business or attending a faith-based denomination of their choice without hindrance.

The ANC has always been critical of itself and frank about the challenges it faces, hence it is able to diagnose the best way forward for itself and the people it represents.

The then minister of foreign affairs in the erstwhile Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, laments about “new thinking” in his book titled “The future belongs to Freedom” that a “new idea by itself, after all is nothing if it does not capture the minds of the majority and at the same time provide motivation for practical behaviour”.

The ANC-led National Development Plan is a road map for building a strong nation and country. For the first time since democracy, there is a comprehensive plan that envisages the type of country we all know is possible if we work together.

As President Jacob Zuma said during the 2013 January 8 statement, a future without the ANC is unimaginable in South Africa.

The next 100 years will see this organisation alter the socioeconomic landscape of South Africa to realise the goals of the Freedom Charter and deliver real liberation to its entire people.

» Mabe is a member of the ANC’s NEC

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