State power can be 'as dangerous as having no power' - Zuma says ANC leaders toning down party resolutions

2019-06-28 14:03
Former president Jacob Zuma (Gallo Images/Felix Dlangamandla)

Former president Jacob Zuma (Gallo Images/Felix Dlangamandla)

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Former president Jacob Zuma has criticised the party's leaders for failing to implement its programme of action. Zuma participated in a panel discussion on the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in Sophiatown, Johannesburg on Thursday evening.

While he made no mention of current ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, he spoke of the importance of having a leader who agrees with the party's programme of action. His comments come on the back of a recent public spat between ANC leaders, mostly on Twitter, about a resolution to expand the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

The public fallout was precipitated by the party's secretary general Ace Magashule's announcement that the national executive committee (NEC) had resolved to expand the mandate of the Reserve Bank, earlier this month.

Last week, Ramaphosa used his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to defend the SARB's independence, saying it should work without fear, favour or prejudice.

At the ANC's 54th national conference, party members who sought a more radical approach to transformation, beat out their more conservative peers, leading to the party's adoption of a resolution to nationalise the Reserve Bank. However, attempts to do this have been foiled at every turn.

READ: Ramaphosa comes out against expanding Reserve Bank mandate

On Thursday night, Zuma spoke widely about the founders of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), including former president Nelson Mandela, AP Mda, Anton Lambede and OR Tambo. He told the young people at the event that while that generation did not want to lead the ANC at the time, they were interested in the kind of leader who would be elected to take charge.

"They said: 'For us to achieve our policies and objectives, we can no longer continue with the president then. If he does not agree with the programme of action, we will take whoever embraces it'," Zuma said.

The former president said that during the 1940s, the ANCYL was not bothered with personalities or which leaders they liked. They wanted someone who understood the party's mission.

"The leader we put in that position must agree with what has been agreed by the organisation," Zuma said, referring to the first generation of youth league members.

"They did not act in a manner that would be very fertile for factions. They did not have: 'So and so are my people'," he said.

Reflecting on the party's approach to its own resolutions, Zuma said the party decided to be more radical at its 53rd national conference in Mangaung.

'Control of state power'

The former leader, who had his audience in stitches from time to time, refused to name the 2017 Nasrec national conference, during which Ramaphosa was elected party president. Instead, he said he "couldn't remember where it took place".

"The control of state power may have lulled us into thinking the government shall deliver everything. State power, if you don't know what you are doing, is as dangerous as having no state power," said Zuma.

He made the comments following his own observations about the approach to critical issues by the current crop of leaders.

Zuma said he recognised the difficulty supporters of radical transformation faced when they spoke about the policy, saying there was always extreme reaction from investors, which forced some in the ANC-led government to tone down their own approach to the radical transformation programme.

While his speech focused on the importance of implementing party resolutions, he placed the blame for most of the country's problems on colonialism and apartheid, and even criticised the majority for being too scared of their white compatriots to fix the country.

He also seemingly took a jab at his predecessor, former president Thabo Mbeki, who led the ANC to their most decisive national elections victory and a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

"You get a party with two-thirds majority and you sit on it," he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  ancyl  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  politics
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