Speaking at Gallagher Estate on Wednesday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe paid tribute to outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who has less than a week left in office.
He said one of the things he and the ANC would miss her for “is your visits to our offices as a party to ask us difficult questions and allow us to engage you, and I want to assure General [Bantu] Holomisa, when you visited us there, it was not clandestine. It was an open visit. We had to answer very difficult questions.”
He said he hoped that culture would continue under the new public protector.
“You gave us a run for our money from time to time. That is the problem that goes with being a governing party because even if things happen in government, the ANC cannot say it’s not the ANC’s government. We get dragged into that issue, so we had to run for cover from time to time.
“You also, on a number of occasions, saved us from ourselves,” he said, to applause.
He added: “We’ve not acknowledged that publicly, we acknowledged it quietly.”
To even more cheers and laughter, he said: “I’m also sure that without the ANC, your time as the public protector would not have been as exciting.
“Every report of the public protector made us to think, and it became a point of learning. And we appreciate that.
“I can assure you that you leave the ANC a wiser party as you go.”
SA facing a ‘colour revolution’
Meanwhile, Mantashe said South Africa was going through a “colour revolution” geared towards establishing anger in society to create protest and revolt against the government. He said there were signs of agitation and discontent in society, which necessitated the importance of keeping an eye on supposed agents of discontent.
On student protests over free tertiary education that have left many universities’ academic activity in limbo, and the governing party reeling from election upsets after the local government polls, Mantashe said people who celebrated a weak ANC did not know that a united and strong ANC-led government was good for the country.
“People celebrate a weak ANC, but will find out sooner or later that a strong ANC is good for the country,” said Mantashe, adding: “When everybody sits back and waits for the ANC to take up the struggles in society, then it [ANC] is at its weakest, and that is the situation today.”
He said it was a “fact” that Western forces removed democratically-elected governments by pushing for regime change when they failed to comply with their demands.
He said the ANC was struggling also because of its own successes and victories since coming into power 22 years ago, which has created a society passively dependent on the state.
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“What we have done wrong is that we created a society that is very passive, that is waiting for delivery. The demand is free this, free that.”
On corruption, Mantashe said the ANC had to strengthen itself internally against members pursuing their own goals and what he termed as “accidental succession”. The ANC was not managing properly the issue of leadership succession ahead of next year’s elective conference with a lot of jostling for positions taking place within the movement, he said.
“Corruption is no longer imagined, there is a lot of corruption, and there is a lot of looting.”
Mantashe also said subsequent to this year’s August elections, many people believed that removing President Jacob Zuma from power would solve all the problems besetting the ANC. However, this is not the case, as the party had resolved to focus on analysing the results to see where it had gone wrong.
“Many people thought that the only thing to do was to fire Jacob Zuma rather than doing a detailed analysis. We’re not dealing with service delivery problems, but rather with trust deficit.”