Divisions within the ANC escalated yesterday, with party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe throwing down the gauntlet to the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), reiterating that the idea that some in the ANC must resign was not far-fetched.
Last week, the ANCYL criticised Mantashe’s statements that it would be easier for some in the party to resign than for them to be asked to leave. Mantashe, addressing journalists at Luthuli House yesterday, said: “Now, if the ANCYL says if we talk to that issue I must take the fall, so be it.
“That is my attitude to this issue. Leadership means taking responsibility and being accountable.
“It should not just be a call that let Gwede go. It is not about Gwede. It is about leadership that led the ANC and there is decline in the outcome of the elections.”
Mantashe’s statements came in the wake of renewed calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down after the ANC suffered a serious setback in the recent local government elections.
The ANC national executive committee has taken collective responsibility for the dismal performance. Mantashe admitted that the negative narrative towards Zuma had hurt the ANC.
“Every negative narrative that went to the president did hit at the ANC because you cannot separate a president of an organisation from its organisation,” he said. “The ANC was grappling with the issue of Nkandla.”
Mantashe went as far as saying everywhere in the world leaders resigned as a result of bad results.
“Look at the Labour Party in Britain. Every time they have a leader who leads it to elections, and it does badly, that leader gets changed. They got to the referendum. The leader of the Labour Party is under scrutiny and the prime minister of Britain resigns.”
Mantashe warned against making choices in a factional way, saying: “That a province that has declined by 10%, you say it has done well.
“A province that has declined by 4%, you say it must be chopped. “That is factionalism that the ANC must confront and fight at all costs. If we are going to recover, we must be objective.”
Mantashe said the ANC would sink deeper into the hole because of factionalism. “If we think that those we love must not be touched [and] those we hate must be touched, we will be committing a similar mistake,” he said. Mantashe said the ANCYL proposal for an early conference was not a bad idea.
“It is actually being discussed in various structures of the ANC, whether it should be done. But the question that confronts us is: we can’t go to a conference because we are angry and we have seen a decline in the elections and, therefore, we rush to an early conference.”
Mantashe also warned that the ANC would lose power if it was not united. “We have examples of many liberation movements that, as a result of disunity, have lost power,” he added.