Stick to the script, Cyril Ramaphosa chides ANC leaders

Mixed messages will cost the party at the polls, president warns

30 September 2018 - 00:02 By QAANITAH HUNTER

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a strong rebuke to party bosses at Luthuli House, warning them that contradictory public messages will cost the party votes in next year's elections.
Ramaphosa read the riot act to senior ANC leaders at a meeting in Pretoria this weekend of the party's national executive committee (NEC), its highest decision-making body between conferences.
Several people who attended the meeting told the Sunday Times that, in his political report to the meeting, Ramaphosa warned of the impact of conflicting messages by senior ANC figures when the party made public pronouncements on key issues.
Insiders at the meeting said Ramaphosa "seemed annoyed that everyone was communicating what they want".
"He warned us that if these mixed messages continued, it will affect us in elections," a source attending the meeting said.
Confusion reigned last week when the ANC's head of economic policy, Enoch Godongwana, withdrew a statement issued by a member of the party's communications team commenting on a decision by the South African Reserve Bank to leave interest rates unchanged.
The statement said that the Reserve Bank should "prioritise the plight of poor South Africans".
This was seen as political interference in the independence of the Bank - and the drama is said to have left Ramaphosa fuming.
A few weeks before that, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe issued an official ANC statement denying that there was a plot by supporters of former president Jacob Zuma to oust Ramaphosa. This was after the Sunday Times broke the story of a secret meeting at the Maharani hotel in Durban, where a possible plot against Ramaphosa was hatched.
Zizi Kodwa, the head of the ANC presidency, publicly criticised Mabe for issuing the statement, saying the secret Durban meeting had not been an official party meeting, suggesting that Mabe should not have commented on the matter.
This exposed contradictions between Ramaphosa's office at Luthuli House and that of secretary-general Ace Magashule.
NEC members said Ramaphosa on Friday emphasised that the party could not afford double-speak on key issues.
"He told us that there has to be only one central message coming from the ANC and government," a second source said.
In an interview prior to his departure for the UN General Assembly in New York, Ramaphosa slammed the statement on the Reserve Bank, saying it was unacceptable that junior ANC staff members were commenting on matters they did not comprehend.
"It was most unfortunate that a junior, very junior, official of the ANC just goes off and issues a statement on something she also does not understand. It should have not happened," he said.
Ramaphosa told the Sunday Times that the governing party had to streamline its communications.
"We need to have one message and a number of voices. Our message must be consistent and it must not second-guess independent institutions like the central bank," he said.
In his political report, Ramaphosa opted not to directly deal with reports that Magashule, Zuma and other ANC leaders were plotting a fightback plan against him and his supporters.
Instead, insiders said, Ramaphosa dedicated a large part of his speech to appealing for unity within the party.
Ramaphosa is said to have argued that unity would help boost the ANC's prospects in what is expected to be a fiercely contested general election next year.
"He spoke about the elections and how we all need to work together and not be complacent," a source said.
Ramaphosa also reported back to the NEC about his trip to New York and the positive response he received to the stimulus package he announced.
Earlier, there were indications that the matter of the alleged plot against him would be raised from the floor by his supporters - and Magashule's supporters were said to be ready with a counterattack.
The meeting was also expected to discuss measures to give more teeth to the ANC's integrity commission to better clamp down on misbehaving ANC officials and public representatives...

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