Mbete’s vision for a future ANC

2016-10-02 06:01
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

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ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete says the party is working to ensure that there will be no contestation in the election of a party leader at its next conference, scheduled for next year.

In an interview with City Press this week, she explained that the task was not easy, but says it becomes possible if one works towards the goal with the interest of the ANC as a whole in mind.

The ANC national executive committee has already instructed party officials to engage with lobby groups to try to eliminate a jostling for positions, she says, as it is feared this could lead to even further party divisions.

“That’s what the ANC at its last meeting made an appeal for. Other alliance partners, like Cosatu, in the recent past went to [their] congress and agreed on a collective leadership. I am not saying it’s going to be easy, just saying it’s not impossible. When you love the ANC, you have to find a way.”

Mbete went on to question whether BEE was making a difference to the lives of most black people and said the governing party needed to better define what it means by radical economic transformation.

Female president
Mbete, the Speaker of the National Assembly, has been touted as a leader with enough stature to replace President Jacob Zuma when he steps down as president of the ANC and of the country in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

She would not say whether she would accept a nomination, though. But she did support the recent call by the ANC Women’s League for a woman to take over above the norm where the deputy president, in this instance, Cyril Ramaphosa, succeeds the president.

The name of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has also been cast into the succession hat and it is rumoured that a lobby of ANC premiers known as the Premier League is promoting her. However, Mbete disputes the existence of such a pressure group.

“I think my understanding of how the ANC Women’s League is entering the space is at a level of principle,” she remarked.

Looking towards the 2017 conference, Mbete stressed the need for cool heads and for factions to rid themselves of the hurt and bitterness they have carried since the Polokwane conference that elected Zuma.

“We want healing,” Mbete says and adds that she has appealed to those who left the ANC out of anger to “come back home”, mentioning specifically leaders who defected after the removal of Thabo Mbeki, to either form Cope or to go to the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Meanwhile, Mbete has become the latest senior ANC leader to say Treasury needed to be more sensitive to departments and should not be overbearing.

“Talking as a person tasked with overseeing the running of Parliament, we are often very offended [by Treasury]. We are not friends [with Treasury] when it comes to the budget of Parliament because we don’t agree that they should withhold as much money as they do.”

Mbete says Parliament is expected to carry out its constitutional mandate despite Treasury chopping away a large chunk of its budget. She came close to suggesting Treasury was failing to apply its mind properly.

“It’s a lot of power that they have. Indeed, Treasury is a department that plays an important role and we ought not have a situation where there is an overbearing feeling within the executive.”

Fica Amendment Bill
As the debate rages on as to whether Zuma should sign the Fica Amendment Bill meant to combat money laundering, Mbete said the bill was a good thing as it would also protect politicians and members on the boards of state-owned enterprises.

Report-back meetings
Mbete has been in a group of ANC leaders deployed to consult the regions about their views on the underlying causes for the ANC’s poor performance at the polls.

She said branch members have appealed to leaders to stop causing unnecessary confusion by contradicting each other when making pronouncements about the ANC.

They also complained about failure by the leadership to deal with corruption and have mentioned a perceived bias in leadership’s treatment of party officials under scrutiny.

Mbete said this weekend’s NEC meeting would pronounce on how to eliminate the destructive outcome of the recent nomination process, where candidates were imposed by regional leaders over the wishes of the branches.

In order to restore its credibility ahead of 2019 elections, Mbete said the ANC should deal with leaders who were compromising the organisation at whatever level.

She said, while calls for Zuma to step down have been made by the regions, this did not receive overwhelming support. Members also disagreed with calls for an early consultative conference, initially made by the ANC Youth League.


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