Mashatile wants debate on 'economic freedom'
Pretoria - Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile on Saturday backed the youth leagues fight for economic freedom but cautioned that there should be a rational and robust debate on the meaning of the term.
Speaking at the start of a two-day Provincial General Council (PGC) in Centurion's St George Hotel, Mashatile said: "We agree with the youth league for having identified the transformation of the economy as the central task of this phase of the revolution.
"However, we must open a rational and robust debate on the meaning of economic freedom and the practical steps that must be taken to achieve it [in] our lifetime."
Last week, during the ANC Youth League national congress, Malema told of how the youth would achieve economic freedom by marching to the Union Buildings, from Alexandra via neighbouring Sandton, the country’s economic powerhouse, open the fridges there and "get the cheese".
Mashatile congratulated the young lions for a "successful" congress and renewed the commitment to advance youth development as an integral part of the party's transformation agenda.
Speaking on organisation building and renewal, Mashatile reminded delegates, who packed the room ready for their discussions, that the responsibility to elect leadership was on their shoulders.
"You said dare and fail the movement," he said.
The party was preparing for four regional conferences in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, West Rand and Tshwane.
"We must ensure that we do not emerge from conferences with a leadership that will cause instability in the organisation and in municipalities," he said.
Crime against humanity
Meanwhile, Mashatile had tough words for underspending municipality and government departments, saying this was a crime against humanity, especially for a country with a "massive" developmental backlogs.
"Under-spending must be declared a crime against the poor," he said, adding that this failure to spend on infrastructure development was a glaring weakness that needed to be addressed.
"No department under the ANC led government or municipality must have any excuse to under-spend money allocated towards improving the quality of life for our people."
Without mincing his words, Mashatile said on all those deployed in government to do their work.
"Failure to implement must attract dire consequences," he said, leading to a thunderous applause from delegates.
Mashatile said filling high-paying positions with underpeformers was the same as failing the people.
In this regard, the provincial executive committee will soon hold a two-day Lekgotla, in order to address these "weaknesses" and put programmes in place to accelerate transformation.
"We must show urgency. We cannot afford to go to 20 years of freedom in 2014 with an uncaring attitude and laissez-faire approach to the problems faced by our people."
Among other measure to address these problems, the PEC has resolved ton set up a monitoring and evaluation unit to track and monitor the implementation of ANC programmes.
The PGC continues until Sunday, where resolutions to the meeting will be concluded.
Mashatile urged delegates, who sang revolutionary songs and danced just ahead of formal proceedings, to be brutally frank and thorough in their debates.
He reminded them of the recent passing of struggle stalwarts Albertina Sisulu and Kader Asmal, saying they must defend and deepen the culture of fearless debates and intellectual engagements in the movement.
"We must continue to discourage the tendencies of intolerance of different views among some of us. Those who hold different views must freely express them as long as they do so with the utmost discipline within the structures of the organisation."
The party said 1 500 delegates from various branches were in attendance.