FACTIONAL IN-FIGHTINGS UNHEALTHY FOR THE ANC
Written by: Sihle Makhowana
The South African political presence is facing undoubtedly its most complex time; the government is fighting its own and the voice of the majority is active and ready to govern from the ground.
Since the 3rd of August local government elections, the African National Congress (ANC) has been engulfed with factional infightings which have resulted in the call for leadership change by many ANC stalwarts.
Former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada is one of the ANC stalwarts who publicly shared their views about the current leadership of the ANC.
Earlier this year Kathrada wrote an open letter to President Jacob Zuma which involved much detail about the current shenanigans facing the ruling party. Amongst Kathrada’s concerns where that of the sudden unexpected dismissal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, the appointment of ministers by the Gupta family and the Nkandla Saga which had the country talking for a good four years.
In his open letter Kathrada addressed many issues and also showed his unshaken support and respect for the movement. However, during all this, he did not shy away from setting the record straight to even going as far as saying it is time for President to call it quits.
“I am not a political analyst, but I am now driven to ask: “Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as President will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?” said Kathrada.
“I know that if I were in the President’s shoes, I would step down with immediate effect. I believe that is what would help the country to find its way out of a path that it never imagined it would be on, but one that it must move out of soon,” he added.
It seems the 3rd of August local government elections were a final straw for many ANC stalwarts and supporters. The 104-year-old movement has faced undoubtedly its worst elections result since 1994 and ultimately forcing the hand of many to publicly voice their opinions. The likes of Sipho Pityana recently reiterated the call for Jacob Zuma to step down as president of the country, stating that in his leadership the country has faced its worst economic performance, rife corruption within the government and also made mention of the Gupta family which has received first hand preference in government tenders and is alleged to have influenced the appointment of certain ministers for their sole gain.
Speaking at the Joburg Mining Indaba, Pityana echoed the call for leadership change within the ruling party but mostly focused on the president and the call for him to step down.
“There are very few among us in this room who would dispute that South Africa is in crisis. It’s a crisis spanning the economy, society, and the political sphere. It’s a crisis fuelled by patronage, corruption, mismanagement, unchecked power and widespread apathy,” said Pityana.
The recent state capture investigation by former public protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, has added to the ruling party’s worst leadership scandals, during the course of the investigation. High ranking officials within the ruling party have been implicated and some have voluntarily come out to say the Gupta family, which has close ties with the president, has indeed summoned them and offered them money and ministerial positions. Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor are amongst those who have taken a stand and became witnesses in Madonsela’s investigation.
When the curtain was raised on the relationship, the Gupta family had with the president and the first preference they received in government tenders, Zuma’s tenure in office has been widely criticized which has resulted in many leading South African banks to close all Gupta linked accounts, a move the nation is soon to learn about immediately after state capture report is made public.
The concerning state of the ruling party has been headline news for most of 2016 and it seems that pattern will not be changing anytime soon, considering the fact that Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan is being charged with fraud and is expected to have his day in court on the 2nd of November. The opening of the infamous SARS rogue unit, early retirement and rehiring of Ivan Pillay, former South African Revenue Deputy (SARS) are all the charges Pravin is expected to give answers to at the Pretoria Magistrates Court.
The news of fraud charges being brought on to finance minister Gordhan have not gone down very well on South Africans but also seemed to have the worst reaction on the stock exchanged. Soon after the fraud charges were announced, the Johannesburg stock exchanged lost more than R50 Billion, a sign which clearly indicated that the country was facing a possible down grade to junk status.
The nature of the charges facing finance minister have left many wondering if these charges are really genuine or this is just another political power showcase directed to Finance minister for his defiant behaviour when dealing with the South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni or perhaps not signing the much anticipated Nuclear deal. This is a move which has resulted in what can be described as a counter attack by Gordhan who recently filed an affidavit detailing huge amounts of transfers amounting to an estimated R6.8 billion made by the Gupta family, a possible answer to the sudden closure of Gupta linked accounts by South African Banks.
The current status of the ruling party is of concern to many, one being the ANC chief whip in parliament and National Executive Committee member, Jackson Mthembu, who on Sunday publicly made the call for the whole NEC to resign. Mthembu’s call was not received with open arms by many ANC officials with some even calling for his resignation saying that he should lead by example.
“Mthembu should do the honorable thing and resign first, without mobilizing others to do the same,” said provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli.
In an interview with eNCA Mthembu said the call for resignations applies to everyone.
“When I said the entire ANC leadership must take the fall I meant everybody, the president Jacob Zuma, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and general secretary Gwede Mantashe,” said Mthembu.
“In my view‚ a minister is being pursued for political reasons and then charged with fraud,” added Mthembu.
The call from opposition parties for the president’s removal has severely dented the image of the ruling party and it seems the deciding factor will be the much-anticipated state capture report compiled by former public protector, advocate Thuli Madonsela.