We are not fools - Sadtu on Zuma

2017-04-27 12:15
Zizi Kodwa (Herman Verwey, Netwerk24)

Zizi Kodwa (Herman Verwey, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Western Cape members of the SA Democratic Teacher's Association strongly criticised the way the ANC is handling the controversies around President Jacob Zuma, at a lecture in memory of late party stalwart Oliver Tambo on Wednesday.

Answering tough questions at what became an intimate gathering due to poor attendance, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the ANC was aware that there were concerns over the party's future amid allegations of corruption, and leadership battles within its ranks in the run up to its elective conference in December.

''The ANC can't assume that it is only perception...because if that perception remains in the minds of our people, it's dangerous... for our revolution,'' Kodwa said at the Luhlaza High School hall in Khayelitsha on the eve of Freedom Day.

''To maintain the high moral ground it must be seen to remove unethical behaviour,'' said Kodwa.

Kodwa's lecture focused on the dangers to a liberation movement, and he started his lecture by saying it was dangerous to have a leader who surrounded himself with people who would only agree with him.

There was poor attendance at the event, where after two hours of waiting only around a quarter of the 500 seats set out were filled.

"It destroyed the trust"

Sadtu branch chairperson Vusumzi Muhobe had earlier apologised to Kodwa for the poor attendance, saying they had invited the ANC, SACP and the SA National Civics Organisation, but they were a no-show.

Sadtu officials laid out their concerns at the event, and told Kodwa that they had always defended the ANC and Zuma, but the scandal over the state funds spent on Zuma's home in Nkandla was the last straw.

They were also worried about conflicting messages coming from the ANC's NEC. This was a reference to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's alarm at Pravin Gordhan being fired as finance minister after Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle in March because of an apparent intelligence report on Gordhan's supposed activities.

''The Nkandla issue - it destroyed the trust of the people...[in] the ANC,'' said deputy Sadtu provincial secretary Sibongile Kwazi in a frank statement during the question and answer session. 

''It didn't just destroy the trust of the people outside, it destroyed the membership of Sadtu, especially when it comes to that Constitutional Court judgment,'' she said, referring to the order that Zuma pay back a percentage of the money spent on upgrades to his homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. This judgment also lambasted the way the Speaker of Parliament handled the issue.

Kwazi said every time there was a scandal in the ANC, it was about one person, and people on the ground felt as though they had been reduced to being no more than voting fodder.

''We are hearing in the media now there are disciplinary charges against officials involved in the upgrades at Nkandla. Now they are treated as flies, but the tigers are going scot-free in all of that.''

Sadtu regional secretary Juwa Dimande said people were not even discussing the ANC anymore, and branches were no longer active because of the party's problems.

''We are not fools,'' said Dimande, who was described later by Kodwa as a man with a long history of being a great supporter of the party.

Kodwa said another threat to liberation movements was the focus on one leader, instead of focusing on leadership as a whole.

He implored supporters to watch their words when criticising the party, or countering allegations of party corruption.

Using only the corruption of apartheid as a retort, for example, was not helpful.

''Apartheid was an evil. It was a crime against our people,'' he said. 

Saying ''hayi suka'' to an opponent during a debate in Parliament was just a way to lose support, said Kodwa.

Even he sometimes had to ask a person seeking comment to ''call me back in two minutes'' so that he could think clearly about his reply, and not give a knee jerk reaction.

''What we say in public counts,'' warned Kodwa.

He said people expected much higher ethics from the ANC than any other party, and the alliance partners the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions turn to the ANC to resolve problems.

"You must inspire hope to the rest of society"

Kodwa acknowledged that currently there is a feeling that the centre of the party's power was no longer at its headquarters Luthuli House in Johannesburg, but in the hands of somebody else.

There have been several allegations, including from now axed deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, that the Guptas, the controversial friends of Zuma, had a hand in some key Cabinet appointments.

Kodwa said the president was within his rights to ask for a review of the Public Protector's report on state capture, but that it is also important that the allegations in the report are investigated.

He said that when the Cabinet reshuffle of March 30 was being discussed internally, a first list was rejected, and a second list also did not make everybody happy, but they fought it out.

He urged supporters to remember the ideas of the ANC as a non-racial party with goals for the improvement of people's lives in South Africa.

''When the people in South Africa respected us more than the government of [apartheid era president] Mr [PW] Botha, it was because of the ideas we held. That is why white democrats could associate with those ideas.''

He shared that one of the plans to rejuvenate the party's ground level structures was to open ANC branches in the workplace, such as at the SABC. However, this would not work because the Communication Workers Union, for example, is already organising over there.

''I always say you must spend time with people who disagree with you, to become a better leader. You must inspire hope to the rest of society.''

He said that by the end of the year, the ANC would have a new president, and in the 2019 elections, the country would also have a new president.

Read more on:    sadtu  |  anc  |  zizi kodwa  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town

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