‘Organisation has not learnt from mistakes’

Date: Mar 5, 2012 | News


​​A former African National Congress leader says the ruling party finds itself embroiled in a protracted disciplinary case against Julius Malema because it has been “afraid of talking politics with” the youth league.

​Published : Times Live, 2012-03-04​

Delivering the David Nembahe Memorial Lecture in Randburg, Joburg, on Monday, former provincial and local government minister Sydney Mufamadi said “political life” within the ANC has been so “de-politicised to the point where it becomes difficult for its leaders to draw the red line for ill-disciplined members”.
“If we repoliticise political life in the organisation, we will then have the basis for being consistent … it must be clear there are no double standards,” Mufamadi, who is now director of the University of Johannesburg’s School of Leadership, told the audience.
He said while the youth league has the right to raise issues such as the nationalisation of the mines, party leaders who are opposed to that should be able to state why they disagree without fearing that they will not be re-elected at the next conference.
Mufamadi, who served in the ANC national executive committee until ex-president Thabo Mbeki’s defeat by Jacob Zuma in 2007, also slammed the use of election slates during ANC elective conferences. He said the slates, which often contained mutually exclusive lists of candidates, were “self-defeating” as they led to a winner-takes-all mentality.
The politician-turned-academic said there were signs that the ruling party had not learnt from the destructive nature of the winner-takes-all attitude, “an attitude that turns contestation for leadership into a combustible fault line”.
He said that recent events suggested that the ANC was now exporting this “reprehensible tendency” to the rest of Africa.
Mufamadi was also critical of the manner in which South Africa conducted itself during its bid to have Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma elected chairman of the African Union Commission.
Dlamini-Zuma ran against the incumbent, Jean Ping, for the post, resulting in deep divisions between AU member countries.
Both candidates failed to secure enough votes to get the nod for the post and a fresh election will now be held at the next AU meeting in June.
The president this week visited Botswana and Namibia as part of SA’s campaign for Dlamini-Zuma to get the job.
But addressing the Randburg meeting on Monday, Mufamadi said the manner in which SA went about it showed that the ruling party had not learned from its own experiences.
He later told the Sunday Times that exporting this approach to the AU could only serve to further divide an already weakened body at a time when the continent needed a united voice. With the Nato-driven “militarisation of diplomacy” internationally, Africa needed to be united to prevent military intervention by superpowers in some of its states.
But SA’s approach to the AU Commission post had not helped that drive for unity.
“I thought it was very unfortunate that even some of our people were saying ‘we are contesting for the chairmanship and the reason we are not getting the numbers we require is because we have Franco-phone countries clubbing together’. Why do we define ourselves in these divisive terms at a time when we are supposed to be looking for the best possible way to promote our interests as Africans in the world?”
He said the “debacle” had left the AU “splintered”.
“The question that arises, in view of that, is whether now our priority should be to heal the rift or to regroup and continue the fight for chairmanship. We seem to be wanting to do the latter.
“We don’t seem to have learnt from our own domestic mishaps. If we had, we would be far more cautious than we seem to be with regard to our role and place within the AU,” he said.
He said the divisions in the ANC that resulted from the bitter leadership battle in 2007 should have taught the ANC about the dangers of “the personalisation of politics”.
“Our own situation must have taught us that personalisation of political discourse can actually be counter-productive,” he said.
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