Motlanthe attacks corruption in ANC
The ANC does not need party members who are "caught with their hands in the till".
Instead - as the ruling party's deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, said yesterday - members should strive to emulate the selflessness of former president Nelson Mandela.
Motlanthe was speaking at the graduation ceremony for about 600 students of the ANC's new Gauteng political school at the Walter Sisulu Leadership Academy, Soweto, yesterday.
With less than four months before the party's elective conference in Mangaung, and just over a month before the party opens its leadership nominations process, Motlanthe appeared to be subtly putting himself forward as the man to get the party back on track.
His speech dwelt on the type of member who would stand the ANC in good stead - he would be someone who had a political education and was without greed or a tendency to corruption.
His remarks might have seemed familiar to the audience because they were couched in language similar to that used by former president Thabo Mbeki when he introduced his definition of the "new cadre" in the mid-2000s.
Then Motlanthe was the ANC's secretary-general.
Mbeki warned the party to beware ofmembers who were "attracted to join the ANC as a bee is attracted to a pot of honey. They come with a view that they will use access to power for personal benefit".
Yesterday, Motlanthe steered clear of the Mangaung leadership race. This is in line with his recent refusal to be drafted onto unofficial leadership race lists.
In what might be interpreted as an indirect swipe at President Jacob Zuma - who has struggled to keep the ANC united ahead of the conference - Motlanthe said not all ANC members were cadres.
"The word 'cadre' means a frame ... a frame that is used to keep old photographs and pictures in shape.
"If you keep an old photograph of a great-grandparent unframed, with time it bends, and cracks and breaks. But if you keep it in a frame it is preserved forever.
"And so in an organisation a cadre plays the same role that is played by a frame to a picture.
"A cadre is meant to keep an organisation in shape under all circumstances."
He applied the metaphor to the ANC, saying that when a party goes through a difficult time it relies on its cadres to keep it in shape.
After the party's policy conference in Midrand in June, the ANC announced that recruits would have to go through compulsory political schooling as a minimum requirement.
Motlanthe's speech to Gauteng ANC leaders was made as the province increasingly shows an anti-Zuma bias.
Though Gauteng is not the biggest province in terms of voting power, it is the most influential in terms of decision-making within the party.
Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile, who introduced Motlanthe as a "son of Gauteng", said the province wanted to return from Mangaung with a "renewed leadership".
"We will continue to prepare for Mangaung to ensure that we come [back] with important decisions on policy, but more importantly we must come out of Mangaung with a renewed ANC."
Zuma, who has already been endorsed for a second term by the ANC's most powerful region, eThekwini, in KwaZulu-Natal, is believed to have lost support in Gauteng.
But senior leaders aligned to him have reportedly been holding secret meetings with branch and regional leaders in the province to get them to support him.
But Mashatile warned: "We must reject those who go around our structures lobbying branches for individuals that we don't know of. You know them, they come at night and tell you what it is they want you to do when you go to Mangaung.
"We don't discuss [leadership nominations] in taverns, dark corners or hotels; we discuss them in the ANC."
Three weeks ago, the Sunday Times reported that Motlanthe had rejected attempts by a Zuma-aligned lobby to negotiate a deal for the party's leadership.
Motlanthe has distanced himself from groups that have released lists of their preferred leaders. Instead, he has insisted on the right of ANC branches to elect leaders.
Yesterday Motlanthe said: "As cadres of the movement we should not be caught with our fingers in the till. It gives the ANC a bad name and depicts it as an organisation overrun with greed, corruption, venality and loose morals. This perception goes against the stated principles and values we stand for and diminishes our public image."
The ANC Youth League has been openly campaigning for Motlanthe.