ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe addresses a briefing on Monday. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu (PF) is influencing former ANC youth chief, Julius Malema.

On the eve of Zimbabwe’s polls on Wednesday, Mr Mantashe said while he loved Zanu (PF), "we have to accept the fact the party had destroyed the economy".

Mr Malema’s newly launched "protest movement", the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), recently released its manifesto, which it says is based on the Freedom Charter. The manifesto calls for the nationalisation of the mines and banks, and land expropriation without compensation.

On Monday, however, Mr Mantashe said the EFF’s policies owed more to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) than to the Freedom Charter. "To me EFF has nothing to do with the Freedom Charter; it has everything to do with the influence of Zanu (PF), that’s what it’s all about."

He said the ANC was aware that there had been "active engagement" between Zanu (PF) and the former youth league leaders who formed the EFF. Mr Malema was a frequent visitor to Zimbabwe during his time at the helm of the league and after he was sacked last year.

Part of the battle between the ANC and its youth league, during Mr Malema’s tenure, was the "influence of Zanu (PF) over them and using them to destabilise us from across Limpopo", Mr Mantashe said.

"So it has nothing to do with the Freedom Charter, it has everything to do with what Zanu (PF) has done."

Mr Mantashe said he always told young ANC activists the fact that Zimbabwe’s ruling party had destroyed that country’s economy had to be acknowledged.

"We must say so. They destroyed the economy. In 1980 the Zimbabwean dollar was R1.50, today it has no value.

"They have caused a massive destruction to the (Zimbabwean) economy and I have an issue with that. I will not voluntarily do what Zanu (PF) does (just) because they are my comrades, because I don’t want the South African economy to collapse in the same way.

"We must do things that are sustainable, that can continue keeping the economy alive."

The calls made by the EFF, based on the Freedom Charter, were hugely distorted in their "articulation". Land grabs without compensation, for instance, were a distortion of the Freedom Charter, Mr Mantashe said. The charter speaks about sharing land among those who work it.

"If you want to create farmers, you are not going to succeed, farmers are not created, farmers are like entrepreneurs, you don’t create them, it’s something you are going to have passion and love for," Mr Mantashe said. "Once you want to create them by force or by hook or by crook, you will see farming as a place for weekend braais."

Similarly, the call for nationalisation by the EFF was a distortion. The charter was explicit that minerals belonged to the people as a whole, but the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act already gave ownership of mineral wealth to the government on behalf of the country’s citizens.

Mr Mantashe said the ANC would take every party in the political space seriously in the run-up to the national elections next year. The ANC never bandied numbers about ahead of an election, but aimed to win convincingly and everywhere.

"We want to govern everywhere ... the reality for us is that we want a three-thirds majority," Mr Mantashe said. To do so the ANC aimed to tell the "true South African story".

The true story was currently being told through a focus on mistakes that the ruling party had committed.

Zimbabwe has denied allegations it was funding the EFF. Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has dismissed the alleged link between Zanu (PF) and Mr Malema’s EFF.

"Those are hallucinations … being peddled by Baba Jukwa," he said. "I don’t want to comment on such nonsense."

Widely followed social media phenomenon Baba Jukwa claims to be a high-ranking but disillusioned Zanu (PF) member.

With Ray Ndlovu