Negative narrative about Zuma hurt ANC at polls - Mantashe

2016-08-23 16:13
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Johannesburg - A constant "negative narrative" about President Jacob Zuma, including the issue of his Nkandla homestead, hurt the ANC in the local government elections, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday. 

"We said, among the issues in our analysis that we had, was the negative narrative that was consistent towards the president of the ANC. That would include a number of issues that are raised in the public domain, including Nkandla," Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg. 

"That is one of the issues we are grappling with, because we must deal with it, whether it is a fact or a perception. Any perception left unattended is more dangerous than facts. 

"Every negative narrative that went to the president, did hit at the ANC because you can't separate the president of an organisation from the organisation... it will actually hurt the organisation. We acknowledge that, upfront."

He said the party took collective responsibility following its decline in the elections. The party importantly lost control in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros.  

Last week, the ANC Youth League hit out at Mantashe after he said that it would be easier for some in the party to resign than for them to be asked to leave.  

"We do not support the call made by Gwede Mantashe of people resigning. If he wants to resign he must do so alone," ANCYL secretary general Njabulo Nzuza told journalists at the time.

'If we made blunders, we did them together'

Mantashe said on Tuesday that there needed to be "collective responsibility". 

"If we take collective responsibility, our conscience must allow us to accept that, if need be, we must resign in numbers... It is not individual responsibility. 

"I can tell you that if you say because of these results, I must resign, I will go to [ANC spokesperson] Zizi [Kodwa] and say, 'why are you remaining behind?' ... If we made blunders, we did them together." 

Mantashe brought up the example of British politics, saying Ed Miliband had resigned when the Labour Party lost, and that David Cameron had resigned as prime minister after a referendum in favour of leaving the European Union.  

"The idea of leadership resigning because of bad results is not a far-fetched idea," Mantashe said. 

He said that if the ANCYL believed he should "take the fall", then "so be it". 

"That's my attitude to this issue... Leadership means taking responsibility, being accountable. If the constituents say "pack your bag", [then] pack it. Simple. But the debate must be in the organisation... but its not about Gwede, its about a leadership. 

"The leadership must have a debate about what happens when we lead an organisation and there is an 8% decline." 

No lifelong presidents

He said the leadership of the ANC would always change when needed, and it would not have lifelong presidents, like other parties. 

"Many of the opposition parties that have clubbed against us have  life presidents'. Some of them formed parties a few years ago and they are president for life. In the ANC, we go for elections every five years."  

Mantashe said members of the National Executive Committee would start engaging with people around the country from this coming weekend. 

"This will be the commencement of a programme throughout the country, especially in areas where we have witnessed a significant electoral decline." 

He said this programme was so that the party could "understand and appreciate" the objective and subjective factors that had led to the election outcomes, and "take decisive action against this". 

Mantashe said the party wanted to go to the people and "own-up where we have erred" and commit to do the right thing. 

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