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ANC ignores civil society‚ say veterans and stalwarts

17 November 2017 - 15:26 By Genevieve Quintal
A file photo of the ANC flag.
A file photo of the ANC flag.
Image: Stephanie de Sakutin

The ANC and government have been accused of marginalising civil society.

This was part of discussions at the national consultative conference organised by ANC veterans and stalwarts‚ who are worried about the state of the party and the country.

The ANC has dismissed the conference even after the veterans tried to lobby it to participate. But a number of ANC members and alliance partners are attending the three-day conference‚ which ends on Sunday.

These included presidential hopeful and national executive committee member Lindiwe Sisulu‚ former tourism minister Derek Hanekom‚ SA Communist Party leaders Blade Nzimande‚ Solly Mapaila and Thulas Nxesi‚ former finance ministers Pravin Gordhan and Trevor Manuel and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. Professor William Gumede‚ who facilitated a panel discussion on the role of civil society‚ said the reason many liberation movements failed once they went into government was they broke away from these organisations.

"Next month is our last chance. The ANC may be history after December unless there is serious intervention‚" he said referring to the party's elective conference.

He said the crisis was not only in the ANC but the country too. The challenge was of a renewal across society. Gumede spoke corruption‚ especially in the state.

He said democratic institutions were being used to loot the state and the rule of law was being used for corruption.

Former government spokesman Themba Maseko‚ on behalf of Business Leadership SA‚ said those in government allowed civil society to be marginalised.

"We never thought those leaders in government would be captured‚" he said. "Our eyes are now open."

Maseko said civil society needed to be recognised for its stand against corruption.

Neeshan Balton‚ executive director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation‚ said the struggle now was to expose the rot. He said comments by some ANC members accusing civil society of being agents of regime change showed how the party now viewed them.

Fatima Shabodien from ActionAid SA said these comments about civil society actually resulted in regime change and pushed these organisations into opposition.

She said civil society was the watchdog trying to hold government accountable.