Chikane warns ANC on post-election divisions
IN THE run-up to Tuesday’s leadership election of the African National Congress (ANC), former Presidency director-general Frank Chikane warned that the party might lose support and credibility among voters if it failed to deal with factions and leadership slates.
President Jacob Zuma and his allies on Tuesday made a clean sweep against supporters of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, scooping all the top six positions of the party. Those elected were on the leadership slate circulated ahead of the conference by a faction supporting Mr Zuma.
The ANC has struggled with healing the post-conference divisions, and this has weakened its organisational capacity as well as its ability to deliver services in government.
Sitting among the more than 4,000 ANC delegates this week at the start of the national elective conference — with a "non-voting member" tag around his neck — Mr Chikane said ANC members voted for the person who would safeguard their interests and not the best leadership that could serve the people.
"You can come here and dance and win but actually the masses will judge you," said Mr Chikane.
The ANC had to move away from factional activity because it robbed the party of the best leaders and skills in the country, he said.
In a book released earlier this year — Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki — Mr Chikane warned the ANC against repeating the "mistakes" made after the party’s 2007 national elective conference in Polokwane, when post-conference divisions led to the removal of Mr Mbeki from the presidency in 2008.
Mpumalanga Premier and ANC provincial chairman David Mabuza, who is a close ally of Mr Zuma, said talks to seek leadership consensus and unity ahead of the conference started "too late", and were also disrupted by provincial nomination conferences that were delayed due to factional divisions in Limpopo and the North West.
"We thought we will discuss leadership after nominations, but the delayed conferences derailed us," said Mr Mabuza.
He said the new leadership under Mr Zuma must rise above "emotions" and tolerate diverse opinions. "We will always have differences but that does not mean we must part ways," said Mr Mabuza.
ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile — who lost the party treasurer’s post to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize — said on Tuesday he was not concerned about his position as arts and culture minister. "It was too soon to speculate on a Cabinet reshuffle," said Mr Mashatile. He said all Cabinet ministers served at the pleasure of the president and "he (Mr Zuma) would make determinations on positions in the government".
On Monday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe used strong language when he spoke about factionalism in the ANC, saying it had become "institutionalised" and members were bolder in their factional activities.
Mr Zuma’s re-election drew mixed reaction from inside and outside the ANC.
While the ANC Youth League congratulated the newly elected officials, it sympathised with Mr Motlanthe — who lost the election to Mr Zuma. The league was among those who nominated Mr Motlanthe to challenge Mr Zuma.
However, ANC Women’s League president Angie Motshekga said on Tuesday the election results reflected her league’s preferred list, and it was therefore "well pleased".
Ms Motshekga said that only one-third of the national executive committee was made up of women. She believed that the league and the new leadership would be able to continue to advance the objectives of the ANC.
The women’s league had come under scrutiny for its "reluctance" to push for a woman in the top position in the party, but maintained that its main battle was equality at branch level, where women make up the majority.
When the league announced its endorsement of Mr Zuma last month, it defended his track record on women’s rights, such as the creation of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and pointed to high levels of gender representation in the national executive committee.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille congratulated Mr Zuma, but she said the victory was not good news for SA.
"His lack of leadership on any of the major policy questions that we face will continue, as will the corruption and abuse of public resources that has so far characterised his time in office," Ms Zille said.
Brand SA chairwoman Chichi Maponya said Mr Zuma’s return to the helm of the ANC’s boded well for the country’s future. "It creates a better sense of certainty and continuity."