Reacting to the earlier announcement by ANC stalwarts that they are boycotting the policy conference, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says the party has made space for stalwarts and veterans to be part of the five-day event.
“We have listened to a few of them, there were disagreements. The stalwarts agreed to the two days, they then wanted a delinked consultative conference. They wanted the consultative conference to be on their terms,” Mantashe said.
“We said it will be of the ANC run by the ANC structures. You don’t, by accident, create an alternative centre of authority. But we are open to them making inputs, those of them who are here will be given freedom to express themselves.
“We could not agree how we talk to delegates, and said they [stalwarts] won’t talk to delegates of poor quality, and they wanted to talk to ANC leadership. If you say branch delegates are of poor quality, you are blaming the victims,” Mantashe continued.
On the omnipresent question of state capture, Mantashe told the media the issue would be discussed during closed sessions where they would most definitely not be welcome.
“State capture will be part of discussions diagnosing the ANC. If it doesn’t happen, it will be less than candid. One of the things we will continue doing is to be candid. We will have a good story to tell. If you don’t speak candidly, that would not be a diagnosis, it will be a report back,” he said.
Mantashe further told the media the organisation had not barred them from closed sessions for trivial reasons, but rather to save the ANC from itself.
“The president will be speaking tomorrow at a general session, and [afterwards] we go into closed sessions. Closed sessions are about allowing the ANC to tell itself truths that are not for public consumption.
“If journalists are present, it limits the delegates and create a space for journalists speaking to certain people, not delegates,” Mantashe explained.
The secretary-general said 30 delegates from each alliance had been invited and had confirmed. He emphasised: “They must be here and talk to us and raise their issues.”
During the five days, the economic transformation committee, together with delegates allocated to the closed session on economic matters, “will deal with those matters because they are serious, and we need to come out of here with more clarity, economic issues cannot wait until December”.