Johannesburg - ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has criticised the party's leaders for trying to dismiss allegations around state capture by the politically connected Gupta family on Friday.
"A narrative was developed to link any discomfort with the influence of the Gupta family to the regime change agenda," Mantashe said.
He admitted that the series of the leaked #GuptaEmails indicating the extent of the family's influence on the executive and state-owned entities are harming the party. He demanded that those implicated must own up.
“Where we must own up, individual comrades should do so by providing reputable explanations as a few have done. Blatant denial lacks credibility in the eyes of society, Mantashe said.
This is contained in the diagnostic organisational report presented on the first day of the ANC policy conference that has dedicated two days to discuss the "health" of the party.
Mantashe specifically mentions the Gupta family, which has close ties with President Jacob Zuma.
The report was the first source of contention and has divided the conference. Two sources have told News24 that there was an attempt to block it, and debate took about two hours.
One source said it appeared there was a caucus ahead of the presentation by those supporting Zuma. The caucus was held on the sidelines of the conference ahead of Mantashe's presentation to the plenary. This was allegedly aimed at blocking the report though it was approved by the national executive committee (NEC) ahead of the conference.
Another source said the motion was put forward by a Mpumalanga delegate supported by delegates from the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, as well as from the Women's and Youth League. But Mpumalanga later withdrew after it emerged the delegate had no mandate from the province.
Two sources said Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza intervened, leading to the report being presented. It is said he was supported by the Free State.
Mantashe confirmed during a media briefing there was an attempt to stop the report from being presented, joking that administering medicine is not always easy.
"Medicine is not easily taken even if you are sick. We had a long debate on whether it is [a] culture of the ANC to present [an] organisational report at a policy conference, but we later heard the report on condition that we would not tear ourselves apart," Mantashe said.
In the report, Mantashe said while the influence of the Gupta family on government decisions has become a household discussion, there was a temptation to regard the conversation as an "invasion of privacy and tempering with personal relations".
The Guptas can do business anytime anywhere, with whomever, but their relationship with families of prominent leaders attracts attention, Mantashe said.
"When there are benefits that accrue to families of the leadership, it is assumed to be corrupt in that the political leaders are supposed to have facilitated the accrual of benefits," Mantashe said.
"The leadership of the ANC should never be taken by surprise when society reacts to such relations. In our case, we become dismissive and defensive about it," Mantashe wrote.
He also slammed the use of the "regime change" rhetoric to dismiss state capture allegations.
"A narrative was developed to link any discomfort with the influence of the Gupta family to the regime change agenda. While it must be acknowledged that regime change is a real threat that needs to be analysed and a strategy to defend the country and the movement needs to be developed, this cannot be used as a response to the perception or reality of corruption," Mantashe said.
He said linking the regime change to state capture reflected the decline in the party’s analytical capacity. The ANC has supported a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the alleged state capture.
On the current heated debate on White Monopoly Capital, Mantashe said it should not be bandied about as if it’s a new phenomenon.
The report also details the reasons for the ANC's loss in electoral support during the 2016 local government elections. It states that the growing distrust between the people and their movement and "perception of ANC as entirely corrupt" and divisions and factions as some of the reasons behind the poor performance at the polls.
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