When the ANC dies, we must bury it – Phosa

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ANC presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa. (Lerato Sejake, News24)
ANC presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

Johannesburg - Former ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa believes the party is headed for death unless it stops denying its past mistakes.

Phosa used the words "death" and "funeral" when asked by News24 about his thoughts on the liberation movement, come its elective conference in December.

"If you cook rotten eggs, it doesn’t matter how long you cook them [for], they will come out [as] just rotten eggs which are just cooked," said Phosa.

Phosa said the only way the party could fix itself would be to stop denying its past mistakes.

"When the ANC dies, we must bury it - but I don’t want to be a pallbearer." 

Although the veteran sees doom and gloom for the party, he has put up his hand as a possible replacement for President Jacob Zuma when the ANC holds its 54th national elective conference. 

He told News24 during an interview at his Bryanston office in Johannesburg that he was merely adhering to what branches of the ANC wanted him to do.

Phosa also said he was playing his part in order to try and arrest what many have described as the beginning of the end for the ANC.

"I am not giving up on the ANC - I am hoping that we can still try and correct it. I love it too much, I am not giving up on it." 

He, along with ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete are just some of those that people in the ANC believe are capable of taking the party forward.

All candidates have also criss-crossed the country to address members of the party and share their vision for the ANC. Dlamini Zuma and Ramaphosa are understood to be the front runners in the race.

'Not enemies but comrades'

Phosa said the different candidates have also started engaging each other on the way forward.

"I think it’s going to be stupid for comrades who are running not to find common purpose - purpose to say first what is in it for our people, the country and the ANC." 

He said there was a lot of potential for realignment.

Phosa said leaders needed to come together in order to find a way of arresting the party's death, which he believed would be stopped only if the party stopped denying some of its mistakes and started working towards correcting them.

"No one's ego should be so big that we cannot talk." 

"We are not enemies but comrades, [and] comrades always talk."  

He however refused to divulge more information on the talks between the different presidential candidates, and said he would not align himself with anyone who represented the wrong values.

"I am not going to hang my dignity on the coat of Atchaar served at Saxonwold," Phosa said in reference to the controversial Gupta family.

He said he would not align himself with any of the candidates with links to corruption or those who wanted to continue protecting the corrupt.

Policy conference 

Phosa, who has often been a fierce critic of the ANC, also expressed some concern over the party's upcoming policy conference where issues such as land redistribution, radical economic transformation and social cohesion are expected to dominate talks.

"Expect a lot of music, a lot of slogans, a lot of dance and a lot of protecting the characters who people think they support for December," said Phosa.

He said he did not believe there would be any radical changes to the party’s policies.

"ANC policies have been tweaked over the years, you are not going to change them and disturb the balance."

He said there would be a lot of rhetoric but then the party would swiftly move away from it to focus on the December conference.

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