By Moipone Malefane
Top party committee riven by rivalry
The premature opening of the ANC succession debate is tearing apart the party’s most senior leadership structure, its national executive committee.
This was revealed yesterday by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe during a closed meeting of the party’s national general council.
Delivering his organisational report to about 2000 delegates to the council meeting in Durban, Mantashe said discussions about who should lead the party in 2012 had begun too soon.
Mantashe is a prime target of an ANC Youth League-led campaign for leadership changes to be made when the ANC holds its next elective conference, in 2012.
The youth league wants Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to be elected ANC secretary-general and is demanding that the ANC adopt a “generational mix of leadership” as policy before the next conference.
It is also believed to be campaigning for President Jacob Zuma’s ousting as party president in 2012.
According to delegates who attended the closed session, Mantashe said contention for leadership positions was dividing the national executive committee, making it difficult for it to function.
“We must, however, highlight and emphasise that the [youth league] must be more open and tolerant of different views when issues are open for public debate,” Mantashe said.
“To antagonise and alienate those who wish to contribute to the debate makes the engagement poorer.”
Mantashe identified several problems that, he said, highlighted the rise of ill-discipline in the ANC, especially among its leaders. He once again slammed the “new culture” of block voting, saying it was based on “slates” of candidates, which compromised the democratic nature of the ANC’s leadership elections and “denied the organisation capable leaders”.
He said party members feared their leaders instead of respecting them, and that there was factionalism and a lack of political debate.
Mantashe was frank in his assessment of the party, saying that the ANC was now regarded as an employment agency that people joined to gain access to resources.
“Our deployment policy is under attack from detractors for all the wrong reasons. Mistakes committed by our structures in deploying cadres who do not even meet the basic requirements for the posts they are deployed in have opened the movement to unfair criticism,” he said.
“As long as deployment is based on the principle of political integrity and professional competence, there should be no problem. If we ever drift into making deployment an exercise that seeks to make professional work representative of group interests, seeds of disaster will be sown.”