ANC is 'worse than before Cyril Ramaphosa'
Motlanthe criticises party's election list of candidates for parliament
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe has spoken out about the current state of the ANC, saying the ruling party was in worse shape than it was before the 2017 Nasrec conference that elected President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, the former ANC deputy president also commented on the ANC's list of potential MPs, saying the lineup was weak and did not inspire confidence.
Motlanthe's comments come as Ramaphosa is on the campaign trail promising South African voters a "new dawn" under his leadership, pledging to clean up the mess left by his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
But Motlanthe, who served as interim president from September 2008, after the removal of Thabo Mbeki, to May 2009, when Zuma took over, said he did not believe Ramaphosa was a messiah who could save the party.
"The ANC is not in great shape … I think to strengthen the ANC it needs a surgical overhaul from where it is now. It is worse than it was in 2017," Motlanthe said.
"I don't believe in messianic figures. I believe that first and foremost we've got to have a capable state. Because governments - when you refer to a head of state - [they] come and go. Every five years, theoretically, each time we go to elections we may end up with a different government. But your state has got to remain stable [and] capable, with institutional memory," he said.
Motlanthe, who was ANC secretary-general from 1997 to 2007 and the party's deputy president from 2007 to 2012, has previously said it will have to lose power for it to renew itself.
Motlanthe's disillusionment about the prospects of the party appears to be reaffirmed by the ANC's list for parliament, which includes ANC leaders who have been implicated in corruption and state capture and some who have court judgments against them.
They include Nomvula Mokonyane, who is accused of having been on the payroll of controversial company Bosasa; Malusi Gigaba, who was found to have lied under oath; and Bathabile Dlamini, who oversaw the collapse of the social grants system when she was social development minister. Also on the list are alleged Gupta lackeys Mosebenzi Zwane and Faith Muthambi.
Motlanthe said ordinary people should have confidence in the lists of potential public representatives.
"If they [voters] are in doubt, they will not vote for you. You have already lost the battle. You need people who will inspire confidence to win you the support of ordinary people."
He said leaders who have been arrested in connection with assassinations - in reference to the arrest of two mayors in KwaZulu-Natal for their alleged role in political killings - should not be allowed on the list.
The only way there could be a "surgical overhaul" of the party was to open it up to people from all walks of life.
For the ANC to be concerned only about its membership and not the rest of the country, he said, would be narcissistic and ill-advised.
During Zuma's tenure, Motlanthe was quite critical of his successor and was sceptical about developments in the party. Motlanthe unsuccessfully challenged Zuma at the 2012 conference in Mangaung for the top job.
Before the Nasrec conference, he said he believed the ANC could only change if it died in its current form and was reborn as a grassroots movement.
Since then, Motlanthe, through his foundation, has been facilitating dialogues "among equals" on the problems in the country and how they could be solved.
The former president seems to still be disillusioned by party politics and has focused his attention on building the capability of the state - to foolproof it from what happens in politics.
"If you are an individual, all by yourself [you can't do it]. Remember even the composition of the cabinet would have to be approved by those in the ANC. The constitutions [of the party and state] are not aligned, so it creates two centres basically," he said.
The former president said he believes that the ANC's constitution was not consistent with the country's.
The foundation released a report after an inclusive growth forum in the Drakensberg last year that recommends the strengthening of the state apart from politics.
"One of the concrete recommendations coming out of [the Drakensberg report] is how to strengthen the state. It really deals with the recruitment [and] selection of public servants, that it should be handled by the Public Service Commission so it becomes transparent and rigorous. We will then end up with a professional bureaucracy," he said.
Motlanthe said civil servants should not be appointed on a contract basis and should be permanently appointed.
"Precisely because the state's got to be permanent. For the state to be capable and have institutional memory, it has to be permanent.
"You can't have a high turnover in leadership level in the state and expect that state to be stable," he said.
He questioned whether SA needed a provincial government structure - a debate that has raged in the party for years.
"Do we need this kind of competencies to be located both at national and provincial level?
"This is something that came about from the arguments of those who wanted SA to be a federal state. But we are not a federal state, we are a single state yet the practice of concurrent competencies creates that dualism," Motlanthe said.