The ANC's head of elections Fikile Mbalula says members concerned the party might suffer at the polls due to revelations implicating its leaders at the commission of inquiry into state capture must accept that South Africans want the inquiry.
An upbeat Mbalula, who has been leading the ANC campaign in the run-up to the general elections, expected to take place in May, acknowledged to News24 that he knew some in the party were concerned about selling the liberation movement to South Africans on the back of the commission, which is set to resume later this month.
Leaders such as Nhlanhla Nene have been found wanting and have resigned following testimony at the inquiry, which is looking into claims of undue influence the Gupta family had over former president Jacob Zuma, his executive and several state-owned enterprises.
It is claimed the Gupta brothers and their associates, including Zuma's son Duduzane, pocketed billions of rands through coercion and corruption.
The ANC, which has often denied being on trial at the inquiry, has been found wanting, with its leaders accused of intervening when banks decided to stop doing business with the Guptas. Its processes around its deployment policies have also left many concerned, with questions raised about the blurring of lines between party and state.
"Some have expressed reservation, but they need to accept that the state capture is part of our own resolutions, that’s what comes with the bad and it needs to be probed and it can’t be fudged and put under the carpet," said Mbalula.
He said a party that has lived as long as the ANC would experience a lot of ups and downs.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the ANC's January 8 celebrations, marking the liberation movement's 107th birthday, in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
News24 has spoken to several ANC members who are worried about the impact of the commission. This message is echoed in exchanges in a number of ANC-linked WhatsApp groups, with some party members saying they wish the inquiry was held after the elections.
"In our own history we are a party of the people, [this takes] state capture with it, in that it must never happen again, so you have self-respect and don’t run away from people," said Mbalula.
Taking polls seriously
The former minister, who has led dialogue with different sectors of society across the country, said the party's manifesto, which is set to be delivered at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday, will be a "thick document" with "a lot of content".
He claimed the party would deliver an event that made people who are part of the ANC proud of their organisation.
The ANC will then take its message to South Africans, asking them to place their trust in the party when it goes to the polls.
The party will reflect on its 25 years in power and share views of how it's going to move the country forward.
"When you are a governing party, there are bottlenecks and challenges that you come across and then there have been difficulties that have besieged these 25 years, but over and above that there is a lot that has been done," said Mbalula.
He said the ANC took polls seriously, even if they painted the party in a bad light.
Recent polls show growing support for the liberation movement, with expectations that it would do well at the national elections.
"For us it is important to look at the polls, what are the issues South Africans are raising about us, from all spheres of life," said Mbalula.
"Our attitude and approach to this campaign is we are the incumbent, it's easier for those who are not in power to have a go at us, but over and above that we need to bring innovation, what [are] the bold steps we are bringing as a party, we know that those will deliver on them," said Mbalula.
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