Former president Thabo Mbeki says South Africans are justified in concluding that some ANC members are liars and thieves.
“So many of our ordinary people characterise the ANC as such, these are liars and thieves. And it is not that that conclusion is unjustified, because people say we issue manifestos, we campaign and get elected and once we get elected we forget what was in the manifesto, which you promised to the people. We do not do it. So what are the people supposed to conclude except that you are a liar?”
Mbeki was speaking on Sunday at the ANC Youth League national youth task team political school under the banner of “Rebuild, renew, revive, reimagine and reposition the ANCYL towards economic freedom in our lifetime, now or never” in Midrand, Johannesburg.
He told the league it was important to have a strong youth league to address issues affecting the youth and broader society.
After the ANC’s dismal performance in the local government elections in November last year a presentation was made to give party leaders an understanding of what went right and wrong.
“One of the professors said part of what happened is that people in the townships, when they see these ANC comrades campaigning door-to-door, say: ‘afikile amasela (the thieves have arrived)’. That must worry us comrades, that so many of our ordinary people characterise the ANC as such — these are liars and thieves.”
If there is corruption in government, then it means ANC members are part of it, added Mbeki.
He went on to say: “The veterans’ league of the ANC decided two years back that it was necessary to implement the decision of the national conference on ANC renewal. That conference said there must be renewal and added ‘for the survival of the movement’.”
He said when meeting in Nasrec in 2017 some could already see that “if we do not act on this renewal thing, the ANC will die …”
The conference said the national executive committee [NEC] must attend to the process and report what it has done to the national general council [NGC].
“It wanted urgent action, but because there was no movement, the veterans’ league said we are offering to intervene. We are not interested in positions, we do not support factions, renewal is going to be a very challenging thing but these are experienced cadres of the movement who are ready to make a contribution to the renewal of the organisation.”
One of the proposals was on vetting the current membership of the ANC. “They then proposed a screening process so that we can avoid factionalism, a process to go through this membership and make recommendations on what should happen.”
This would ensure that the ANC had the right quality of members. “It is very important to ensure that the quality of cadres is right, because if we don’t we are going to lose the capacity to lead because people won’t accept [those elected].”
When the ANC took a decision to expand its membership by a million, Mbeki said, “we were not careful to say do we have the capacity to process that number of people. We didn’t have the capacity.”
Mbeki said it might be necessary for the veterans’ league to speak to the youth league’s national youth task team to help explain what the concept of renewal means.
On the matter of a constitutional democracy vs a parliamentary democracy, Mbeki said: “If you look at the document Ready to Govern, you will find the reference to this matter relating to the discussions that took place.
“The decision of the movement was to say let’s have a constitutional democracy. Even elected structures like parliaments need to be governed by certain values. Elections take place in five years and we are making an observation to what has happened to us as a movement and the decline in the quality of membership.
“We like elections and the ANC will have MPs in parliament in the majority. What happens if the majority of them reflect that decline in membership? So it’s said that whoever gets elected, there is a particular set of values which a liberated SA must honour and we will put them in the constitution and they are binding.”
Mbeki told the youth league to also concern itself with gender-based violence, murder, the land question, the economy, the critical skills shortage, poverty and the high number of school dropouts.
“We complain very well. But what have we done to resolve the issues?”
The national youth task team convener Nonceba Mhlauli told members it was their responsibility to fix the organisation. “Things are wrong in the ANC because we allowed them to go wrong and thereafter we want to scapegoat particular events.”
She said every time she tweeted on matters of the youth league she was told that, “we are the next group of looters and as painful as it is when people say that, it is actually true because we perpetuate a culture of looting among ourselves.”
Another NYTT member Fasiha Hassan said the reason young people were rejecting the youth league was because “we are not with them”.
“We are more likely working with elders and getting them to like us, to work with us and put us on slates instead of telling them that they are wrong and as the youth league we are going to challenge them. Perhaps where we went wrong in 2022 is that we have gone into more factional discussions and slates, joined with old people.”