Outgoing secretary-general of South Africa’s governing African National Congress, Gwede Mantashe, highlighted the problems bedevilling the party, particularly the liberation movement’s alienation from South African society.
“The legitimacy of our movement as the standard bearer in society, and champion of its freedoms, is in serious threat. Not only is there a growing gap between the movement and the people, there also is an increase in the trust deficit,” Mantashe said in his organisational report delivered to thousands of delegates gathered in Johannesburg for the ANC’s 54th national elective conference.
“This trust deficit also arises out of a national and global environment where liberal democracies face a crisis, and a general mistrust for the ruling and business class. Central to the crisis is the adverse effect of global capital accumulation of wealth for a minority elite, against impoverishment of the majority, and the seeming – if not perceived, collaboration of politics or the state.”
Mantashe also delved into the weakening support base of the ANC. The outgoing secretary-general bemoaned the party’s below par performance in the 2016 local government elections, drawing parallels with the dwindling fortunes of other liberation movements on the continent that have been in decline, after they won power.
“There are indications of a growing trust deficit between society and the ANC. In the second half of this term, we saw a decline in our performance in the 2016 local government elections, dropping by eight percent compared to the 2014 elections,” said Mantashe.
“Of particular concern are the massive losses incurred in the metros, something that threatened to relegate the ANC into a rural party, in a similar manner to other liberation movements that are in decline.”
Mantashe said the collective leadership of the ANC had tried to maintain unity, but factionalism had taken a bitter toll.
“In some instances, decision-making is removed from structures, resulting in them being used as a sounding board or a mere formality. Despite this, the structures are expected to take collective responsibility for and defend decisions they cannot honestly own,” said Mantashe.
“The culture of a vibrant internal democracy, wherein all views are sought and consensus reached based on the best and appropriate action, is almost non-existent. Resultantly, motivated only by the mentality to work any debate or election, results of every conference are appealed immediately [after] they are announced. Court challenges are commonplace option where results do not favour one or the other faction.”
Mantashe had earlier this year expressed dismay that President Jacob Zuma had failed to consult the top leaders of the party before announcing yet another Cabinet reshuffle.
In the hard-hitting report, Mantashe said materialism, particularly the use of money, “is a cancer eating away at our organisation – both its leadership and membership”.
“We are today faced with a painful challenge, where the entirety of the liberation movement is projected as corrupt. State capture is a reality facing our society, that forms part of public discourse – including the legislature inquiries and private debates. Often, numerous revelations come to the fore, for instance, the Gupta emails some of which are confirmed by those accused,” he said.
Mantashe, however, said many within the ANC were in denial that state capture was a reality in South Africa.