Ramaphosa draws the line on ill-disciplined ANC members

30 May 2021 - 10:45 By amanda khoza
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

President Cyril Ramaphosa has read the riot act to ill-disciplined ANC members saying the party will no longer “tolerate divisive behaviour that undermines the organisation and diminishes its standing even further”.

“The ANC has drawn a line in the sand. The line stands,” said Ramaphosa, during a virtual address at the ANC’s 9th Northern Cape provincial conference.  

Ramaphosa congratulated the re-elected provincial leaders — Zamani Saul as the chairperson, his deputy Bentley Vass, secretary Daluxolo Ngxanga, his deputy Maruping Lekwene and treasurer Fufe Makatong.

His address centred around the party’s five key priorities for 2021, including combating the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recovery, organisational renewal, strengthening local government as well as building a better Africa.  

Ramaphosa told delegates that in addition to dealing with the pandemic, the ANC had to go through a period characterised by instances of ill-discipline, disrespect for organisational norms and values and resistance.

This he said, was expected as “any project of renewal and rebuilding will encounter resistance from those who benefited from the deviant practices of the past”.

The Northern Cape was not exempt from these challenges, said Ramaphosa. “In the Northern Cape, you have also experienced the challenges posed by disunity, infighting, factionalism, greed and corruption.

“Some comrades have tried to interdict or stop organisational processes and have also used nefarious tactics, such as spreading anonymous SMSes maligning leaders, to try to intimidate others. These tactics have failed.”

Ramaphosa said the party will forge ahead with implementing its 54th national conference resolutions to renew and unite the party.

This has been evident in the implementation of the step-aside resolution which has recently led to the suspension of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, the stepping down of former KwaZulu-Natal mayor Zandile Gumede and the disciplining of MKMVA’s Carl Niehaus.  

“Unity does not mean that we must close ranks at all costs and at all times. When a comrade is denigrating or attacking the ideals and mission of our movement then we need to call that comrade to order.

“Calling out wrong or deviant behaviour that demeans the standing of the ANC is protecting the ANC. Protecting the ANC is a constitutional imperative.”

He said ordinary members “were well within their rights to be appalled when leaders defy the movement and undermine its standing and unity”.

“It is therefore always sad for the ANC to see its leaders behaving in a manner that portrays a less than ideal understanding of the culture, values and principles of the movement. The ANC is a caring organisation, but our care and understanding must not be misconstrued.”

Illegal practices to secure leadership positions must also come to an end, said Ramaphosa.  

“Gatekeeping, buying of members and other such practices will no longer be tolerated,” he said adding that people wanted leaders who displayed integrity, dignity and humility.

Addressing patriarchy and toxic masculinity, Ramaphosa said, “Much more insidious has been the prevalence of sexism in our movement. Male comrades tend to push women comrades out of existing positions of leadership or verbally attack women leaders in public or on social media or otherwise prevent women from standing for positions.”

Ramaphosa said this should not be allowed to happen. “Women comrades must enjoy the fullness of membership of the ANC and all the rights and responsibilities that entails.”

Addressing issues of racism and tribalism he said, “Of late there has been a creeping erosion of this value [respect for one another] in our movement. We have observed incidents of overt or covert racist attacks by ANC members and this must be condemned with all the contempt it deserves. The ANC must respond swiftly and decisively whenever it encounters racism within its midst or in our country.

“We have, unfortunately, also experienced and observed racism, tribalism and all other manners of completely unacceptable and backwards behaviour here in the Northern Cape. This will not stand. We do not refer to one another as the Xhosa chairperson or the Tswana treasurer, we are ANC members and South Africans!”

On the upcoming local government elections, Ramaphosa told members to choose local councillors who will put South Africans first.  

“Our processes to choose candidates for the local government elections must be conducted transparently and according to the guidelines. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past where there were instances of deviation from the accepted norms and guidelines.”