ANC members want more discipline

2010-04-21 22:34

Johannesburg - ANC members want to see tougher action on ill discipline in the party, especially among senior leaders, the ANC in Gauteng said on Wednesday.

"The basic thing is restoring discipline. The major concern is the decline of discipline in the ranks and there is no action to restore discipline," Gauteng ANC provincial secretary David Makhura told reporters in Johannesburg.

"Serious concerns about the apparent inability of the ANC to instil discipline in the ranks, especially amongst senior leaders, was expressed by branches."

Makhura said the sentiment was expressed by members from 243 branches of the ANC in their general meetings in the run-up to the ANC Gauteng's provincial conference.

Members have noted a general decline of discipline in the ranks of the ANC at the branch, regional, provincial and national level.

"There is an overwhelming sense that there are people who act with impunity."

Members also expressed concern about the use of money to influence the election of leaders in the organisation's structures.

Malema faux pas

The ANC Gauteng did not mention ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, though the ANC's national leadership is mulling internal disciplinary charges against him.

The party was yet to pronounce on whether charges would be brought against Malema after a series of faux pas.

He was recently castigated by President Jacob Zuma during a media briefing for behaviour "alien" to the ANC. This was after Malema publicly endorsed Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and President Robert Mugabe while Zuma was negotiating an end to an impasse in that country's fragile power sharing agreement between three political parties.

Malema sang "shoot the boer" after the party's top six officials called on its members to be "circumspect" due to the volatile political environment and he booted a BBC journalist out of a media briefing and called him a "bastard" and an "agent".

Ill discipline, however, was not solely the terrain of the party's national leadership, members felt it was happening among leaders at branch, regional and provincial level.

Members are standing behind Zuma, who at a meeting of the party's top brass last month called for a halt to public spats and bickering among ANC leaders.

Branches also expressed concern about the ease with which money was bandied about to influence party elections.

Restrain people

The province earlier this year put in place a set of "guidelines" for lobbying - with similar measures proposed at national level.

"We think it has helped a lot to restrain people. Members know that there are things that you cannot do. You will never see chairs flying, people hitting each other with chairs.

"We are saying if it happens (in Gauteng) there'll be summary dismissal of whoever is involved and it is our responsibility and that is what our members want to see. They want to see action when there is ill-discipline."

Makhura said using money to realise political aspirations was not new and not limited to members already in government.

"There are people who are not in government that have money, who are in business, who may have lots of money to throw into the campaign to ensure that whoever they support is elected... we have seen that happen over time and ANC members are concerned about that."

There were also those who "controlled" positions in government who made promises to ensure their own political success.

"The key issue for us... should be... what are we doing as the leadership to ensure the ANC does not slide into some parties (sic) we have seen after liberation that basically degenerate into shadows of their former selves?

"How do we ensure that the ANC is not going to be an organisation where if you don't have money, you cannot lead?" Makhura said he was confident that discipline would be restored in the ruling party because the "majority of ANC members are decent men and women, the majority of people who join the ANC do so for a good reason".

"We are a movement of decent South Africans. If there are indecent things happening in our ranks we must stamp them out. That's what our branches are discussing, how do we do that."

Preparations for the province's elective conference were well underway. The election would witness current chairperson Paul Mashatile go head to head with current premier and deputy chairperson, Nomvula Mokonyane.