Top six: What new leaders mean for the ANC

2017-12-24 06:05
Jessie Duarte, Ace Magashule, Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa, DD Mabuza and Paul Mashatile. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Jessie Duarte, Ace Magashule, Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa, DD Mabuza and Paul Mashatile. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The assent of Magashule and Mabuza signifies a shift in the location of power, writes Mcebisi Ndletyana

‘Beneficiaries of the negative tendencies within the ANC’s own ranks are bound to resist. When the weaknesses are deep-rooted, it takes time and much effort to turn the situation around,” notes the ANC’s strategy and tactics policy document in an unprecedented focus on the state of the organisation.

Introduced in Morogoro, Tanzania, in 1969 at the historic conference of the then exiled ANC, the document had previously dealt with broader conceptual and tactical issues to both forewarn and guide the liberation movement.

This time around, however, the organisation itself was the major subject of the document, a preoccupation further affirmed by the title of the document itself – Enhancing Organisational Integrity and Intensifying Action.

The document effectively admitted that the “enemy lies within” and that the outcome of the leadership race doesn’t offer clear relief.

Joel Netshitenze, a leading intellectual and ANC member, perhaps captured it best in his reported conversations with fellow comrades: “It is ambivalence at its most extreme: dialectical unity and struggle of opposites!”

In other words, the composition of this leadership is simultaneously an opportunity and a constraint.

While shining the spotlight on the dilemma, the present make-up of the ANC also affirms how the distribution of power has changed within the ANC.

Influence is now concentrated within the ANC. None of the contenders for the office of secretary-general, for instance, came from trade unions.

This was an acknowledgment of their experience in organisational building and cultivating a mass following – both skills were solely needed by the newly unbanned ANC in 1990.

Today, the leading contenders for the secretary-general position – Senzo Mchunu and Ace Magashule – came from the provincial structures of the ANC.

This signifies a shift in the location of power, especially over succession, away from the national centre to the provinces. The influence of numbers over character and values is what has precipitated this shift.

National leaders previously influenced voting patterns from below and they would even influence the choice of contenders, which is why top officials were often leaders of national stature.

That changed in 2007 with Jacob Zuma’s ascendancy to the presidency. Zuma was pitted against other national leaders who were responsible for his removal from government as deputy president. This meant that he couldn’t rely solely on the national office to drive his campaign, so provincial leaders became vital.

Provincial leaders, however, did not naively mobilise support for Zuma as they also had self-interest at heart.

Then president Thabo Mbeki had not allowed much autonomy in the appointment of government officials and general administration.

Those Mbeki overlooked for appointments resented what they bemoaned as meddling.

They used Zuma’s courting of their support as a bargaining chip – support in exchange for autonomy.

That’s how provincial barons rose, and the importance of delivering votes to settle contests came with them.

A political machine

Polokwane thus marked the transformation of the ANC into a political machine. Leaders are preoccupied with churning out numbers to seize office, and this dogged pursuit of numbers unfolds without any moral consideration.

One is rewarded for delivering members regardless of how depraved the individual may be, or the manner in which he or she amassed that following.

David Mabuza and Magashule are the ultimate manifestation of the ANC as a political machine. They not only appreciated the importance of numbers to attain political office, but also exploited their autonomy to do so.

This included consolidating their dominance in their respective provinces. Contenders were completely wiped out and branches came under the firm grip of these provincial barons.

Part of Magashule’s strategy, for instance, was to remove his deputy chairperson and major rival, Thabo Manyoni, as mayor of Mangaung.

Manyoni became an ordinary councillor, which reduced his official stature and denied him control over patronage. He subsequently resigned as councillor.

Loyalty of branches was maintained through the supply of patronage to members. Members became “members of their provincial leaders”, not of the organisation.

Those branches that rejected subservience to their provincial barons were destabilised – that’s the reason Magashule’s provincial executive committee was nullified and a number of branches were disqualified from attending this week’s conference.

The court found that their processes of nominating delegates was fraudulent.

Despite their ignominious conduct, however, Magashule and Mabuza have been elevated to national leadership – ANC secretary-general and deputy president, respectively – and they beat candidates who were generally considered to be competent and conscientious.

Mchunu and Lindiwe Sisulu lost simply because they didn’t have the numbers on their side, and its highly likely that Mchunu might even have been robbed.

Thus the outcome of the party’s 54th conference represents the height of irony. It was meant to herald a new beginning, underpinned by moral rectitude, but instead elevated the most inglorious leaders.

Mabuza, the epitome of amorality, was the power broker.

His victory seeks to achieve two things: protection from future prosecution for his alleged misdeeds, which involves alleged thievery and complicity in assassinations; and to deny Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the presidency.

His support for Cyril Ramaphosa as president was predicated on his electability in the 2019 general elections, which could see Mabuza becoming the deputy president of the republic.

That would place him in an ideal position to block any probe into his alleged criminality.

Contrary to his wish, however, Mabuza may actually deny the ANC victory if he seeks to shield himself from prosecution.

He has stacked up the composition of the ANC leadership in a manner that restrains reforms and improvement of its image.

Not only are the top six officials evenly balanced, but the national executive committee (NEC) appears similarly poised.

Among these new leaders are individuals who have been implicated in corruption. They include, in addition to Mabuza, Magashule, Mosebenzi Zwane, Faith Muthambi and Bongani Bongo.

These unsavoury characters, together with their ilk in the NEC, are unlikely to support any decision to remove Zuma before 2019.

The fact that they were elected at all casts doubt on the idea that this ANC will be different from the one Zuma ruled. The longer Zuma stays in office, the more difficult it becomes for the ANC to revamp its image in time for the next elections.

There is hardly sufficient time to reverse entrenched perceptions by then.

Ultimately, Ramaphosa’s reform agenda will be aided by a combination of court rulings and the ANC’s integrity commission.

The verdict to have the Chief Justice recommend the chief investigator in the state capture probe is likely to be confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

That judicial commission of inquiry will uncover all manner of corruption implicating these newly elected leaders. It will then be up to the integrity commission to suspend them from their positions in the ANC.

Suspension of compromised leaders, however, will only happen if the decisions made by the integrity commission are binding – as recommended during the conference.

However, even if they are suspended, the very fact that they are only being investigated because of a court order implies that the party is not proactively fighting corruption – it’s being forced to act.

That’s hardly a sign of a renewed party that seeks to impress voters.

That said, Ramaphosa’s election offers the ANC an opportunity to reorient itself. Getting there will be a titanic battle. It may not only fail to reform itself, but could also lose the next elections.

Mabuza’s infamous background dims the party’s electoral prospects. He may have to become invisible for the ANC to have any credibility.

Otherwise, the 54th conference may turn out to be a re-enactment of Polokwane – a capture of a party by an unscrupulous individual for self-protection, to its demise.

Ndletyana is an associate professor of politics at the University of Johannesburg

Read more on:    cyril ­ramaphosa  |  david mabuza  |  nec  |  anc elective conference

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.