19/05/2017 16:33 SAST | Updated 19/05/2017 16:33 SAST

Gwede Mantashe Says: 'ANC Uber Alles'

The ANC's secretary-general says the country cannot be preserved at the expense of the governing party.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Gwede Mantashe believes putting South Africa before the governing party is a "terrible concept" and "very problematic".

Mantashe, secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC), addressed the South African Communist Party's (SACP) national imbizo in Boksburg on Friday. He said the concept essentially means you would "destroy the ANC" at the expense of putting South Africans first.

"It is a concept that says give up power and leave the country intact. It is a terrible concept. I don't believe in fragmenting the ANC and saying you are strengthening it. It is a theory based on building a wall, not a movement," Mantashe said.

"It is as if we (the ANC) are governing in the abstract."

Mantashe was quick to admit the governing party is going through a "very difficult and complex period".

"When you are at your weakest, you are open to criticism, even by a scoundrel. Even If there is a great degree of respect for you . . . once you collapse and you become weak, everybody cuts a pound of flesh from you and they kick you. We (the ANC) are in that situation today," Mantashe said.

"Everybody who wants the attention of the media takes a dig at the ANC and our responsibility is to change that."

He said every crisis is based on three "basic interrelated contradictions": race, class and gender.

Speaking about radical economic transformation, he said the change can only be radical if it deals with these contradictions and if South Africa uses it to "save face", it is not going to work.

Mantashe believes there are four things the ANC needs to do to recover from a "trust deficit" in the public sphere:

  1. It must own up and accept that mistakes have been committed.
  2. Explain that a number of issues could have handled differently and better.
  3. Publicly commit itself to correct them.
  4. Follow what we say with complete action."

In reference to calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down, Mantashe said alliance partners shouldn't talk at the ANC, but to the ANC. "These allies have the space and the right to come to the ANC and make their demands on issues."

He reiterated that supporting the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the motion of no confidence would be the "highest level of betrayal".

Blade Nzimande, SACP general-secretary, said the reappointment of Brian Molefe as the Eskom chief executive, was a "perversion of reality".

"Something like an alien substance has found its way into the ranks of our movement and government and is contaminating the DNA of our politics. This includes rise of private and personal interests that seek to displace the interests of the people as a whole and take control of our basic wealth and resources," Nzimande said.

"The corrupting and factionalizing influence of private corporations, including the corporate capture of sections of the leadership, public representatives and the bureaucracy at all levels: this is our immediate enemy. We cannot confront and transform monopoly capital if you allow parasitic looters to mess up the state. Part of radical economic transformation must be to defeat these parasitic looters."

Nzimande said the SACP is "not proud" of the ANC, and a joining of forces from both inside and outside the party may make a difference.

"Courts have a very important role to play, but courts do not change the balance of forces. It is mass activism that changes things. We are not going to defeat state capture only through a judicial commission inquiry, it will help to expose things, but in the end, it is combined mass action by the people of this country that will rescue us," Nzimande said.