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Mon Nov 24 14:23:15 SAST 2014

Is the membership of the ANC divided on leadership? : iLIVE

Sifiso Tso Mtsweni | 05 December, 2012 13:46
President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, go to the ANC elective conference as rivals
Image by: Times Media

This year has been a very interesting year for many reasons but what has to be the most interesting of them all was the "battle lines" and "war" that would ensue when the ruling party of South Africa holds its 53rd National Conference in what is now a famous city of Mangaung.

We have seen many "activists", social media commentators, columnists and their ilk spelling doom and gloom and presenting to the nation, an organization gripped with war amongst its own membership and a leadership besieged with rebellion and faced with a prospect of being "kicked out" of office by the rank and file.

Added to this was the expulsion of the former President of the Youth League who, as he would have us believe, was a Kingmaker and a man of the "masses" who could "create" and "un-create" a President. His expulsion to many, signaled the "end" for the sitting leadership of the ANC as led by President Zuma.

He vowed to all that cared to listen that branches of the ANC would reject the leadership and re-instate him as President of the Youth League. He did this, whilst at every given occasion he would spew insult after another, at each occasion outdoing the previous insult, behaving as though without him there was no ANC and that indeed he had a free license that no one had to insult leadership and vulgarize ANC internal processes.

It was later to come out that the former President of the Youth League and his "comrades" were part of a larger (but small as we would later point out) group of cadres who were planning and plotting the "downfall" of the ANC leadership and the election of what is now famously termed the "change" faction that would "rescue" the ANC and return it back to its founding ideals, advance economic freedom for its suffering masses of poor black Africans.

This, our change proponents argued, would only be advanced solely by booting out the President and Secretary-General, returning the expelled President of the Youth League and electing what was termed within the Youth League a "generational mix" candidate. If this did not happen, then the ANC would "never" achieve economic freedom, it would have abandoned the Freedom Charter, it would have veered from the National Democratic Revolution, it would have betrayed the ideals of former Presidents Mandela, Luthuli, Mbeki and many more. This, our cadres further argued, was a reflection of the rank and file membership found in our branches.

Our cadres in many occasions were even found to be in cahoots with the opposition in ridiculing, insulting and embarrassing their own President, we have seen with dismay ANC members referring to their own President as the "shower-man" much to the delight of the media, whenever allegations of fraud, corruption or mismanagement of funds would appear on the media against either the President or those perceived to be his supporters, our own cadres would be the ones updating their Twitters, Facebooks, WhatApps, BBMs, Skypes and all other forums as loudly as they could in order to prove to the nation that their own President that they elected in 2007 was not worthy of re-election! This culminated to a point where our own members agreed with the opposition to table a motion of no confidence in parliament.

The point being raised above missed out on one very important factor that even our change proponents arrogantly forgot to consider, that the leadership of the ANC is elected by rank and file and that it is only the rank and file that will determine the future of the ANC. The rank and file waited with abated breath for their own moment to express themselves on the issues our change proponents have long started, indeed this past weekend, the rank and file expressed themselves.

In 2007 round about this time as we were approaching Polokwane, it was justified for someone to say the ANC was divided, this was because the outcomes of the PGC's were reflecting a movement almost divided in half on who to support, this resulted in arguably one of the biggest showdown in the history of the ANC. This time around, signs are that the ANC membership is generally united and are in consensus around the retention of the current leadership.

We cannot obviously be oblivious to a few isolated cases where members in branches differed so fiercely that police had to intervene, however generally, we have seen members exercising their democratic right and they have indeed spoken.

As things stand, over 80% of ANC members across the country have requested the President to re-avail himself as well as the Secretary-general with a few new proposed faces into the top 6. Anyone who can argue that the ANC membership is divided on who to support would be a person suffering from exaggerating tendencies that amplify isolated cases and present them as genuine.

As we edge closer to the final destination, we should take this opportunity to applaud the very strong internal democracy of the ANC and applaud its membership for not being swayed by media and other forms that our change proponents so heavily invested and indeed say, Mangaung will indeed liberate the ANC.

Sifiso Tso Mtsweni is member of ANC and ANC Youth League George Central branch and writes in his personal capacity.

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