Mboweni strikes back at ANC, says it must abandon ‘old Stalinist way of politics’

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni attends a media briefing to discuss the outcomes of the ANC's four-day National Executive Committee meeting at Luthuli House, Johannesburg, 2 October 2019. Picture: Emmanuel Croset

‘Don’t criminalise those who disagree with your viewpoint. Don’t call them ill-disciplined,’ the minister said, after the ANC called him to order in a statement.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has responded to an ANC statement attempting to call him to order for deviating from the party line on the proposed nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

While he does not at any point in a long series of tweets directly mention the ANC, the minister’s broadside comes days after the party lashed out at him for questioning its adoption of a resolution calling for the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

In a statement issued by ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe, the party called on Mboweni to show more “discipline” and said only President Cyril Ramaphosa can “make pronouncements for and behalf of the” national executive committee (NEC).

This after Mboweni called for the resolution to be debated, said he believed it was a “wrong resolution” and confronting those within the ANC who might suggest this should be an “internal debate” by arguing that “this is a fundamental national debate”.

Mboweni said those within the ANC who disagreed with a resolution taken by the party should not simply be dismissed as not being “disciplined”.

“Don’t criminalise those who disagree with your viewpoint. Don’t call them ill-disciplined,” he said.

“Positive debate, disagreements, sometimes conflict of ideas, frustrations with your colleagues/comrades, not anger at one another, creates the impetus for forward movement. That is dialectics.

“Throughout political history, those who have no new ideas, hide behind name-calling and refer to those who bring up new ways of thinking, the mindset changers, as ill-disciplined. That is an old Stalinist way of politics. Change your mindset. Politically therapeutic! Move with the times.

“There is nothing as reactionary as sticking to outmoded ways of thinking and of doing things! Inertia is what is called in politics. Move, change your thinking when material conditions change. Otherwise, you become a political has-been. ‘Nothing is STABLE except STABILITY’!”

Mboweni continued by expressing, as he has done before, the belief that things needed to be shaken up and new ways of doing things should be tried.

“He or she who sticks to outmoded politics and policy becomes by political definition, irrelevant in the same way as he or she who shouts at a dead baobab tree!! Shake the baobab tree when it is still standing. Get it!!” he said.

READ MORE: ANC calls Mboweni to order following SARB nationalisation tweets

“If you do not change your mindest in changed material conditions/facts, then you become irrelevant and new political forces emerge and replace you. ‘Politics, by nature, does not allow a vacuum’.

“In short, that is how you translate DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM into PRAXIS.

“Numbers are a fundamental and NECESSARY condition in politics BUT they are NOT a SUFFICIENT condition for progress in dealing with difficulties and challenges under new material conditions. ‘If the socks do not fit, do not wear them!!!”

Dialectical materialism is a Marxist theory which was adopted as the official philosophy of Soviet communists.

The EFF has criticised Mboweni for allegedly abandoning his socialist values by calling for partial privatisation, with the party’s second-in-command Floyd Shivambu arguing with him over which one properly understands dialectical materialism.

Mboweni’s tweets were likely a response to the ANC’s statement last week.

“The African National Congress (ANC) is concerned about the public posture taken by Comrade Tito Mboweni in relation to resolutions and policy positions of the ANC, specifically on the South African Reserve Bank (SARB),” the statement said.

“Any public statement by a Leader of the ANC questioning the wisdom of a national conference outside formal structures have the potential to create confusion within and outside the organisation.

“Unfortunate public spats initiated without any form of provocation feeds into the narrative of ‘lack of policy certainty’.

“The character of our organisation confers on the membership the authority to determine policy and to hold the leadership accountable. Only the national conference has the right and power to review, ratify, alter or rescind any decision taken by any of the constituent structures, committees or officials of the organisation.”

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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