Former president Kgalema Motlanthe has called on the ruling party’s national leadership to step down at its consultative conference in June, if they genuinely want to decisively deal with the African National Congress’ (ANC) pressing challenges.
Speaking to Power FM on Monday night, the ANC stalwart said the party’s leaders need to acknowledge its problems.
In a jab that appeared to be indirectly aimed at President Jacob Zuma over his contradictory comments regarding stopping factions within the ANC though he has been linked to the so-called “Premiers League” that is purportedly led by the premiers and party provincial chairs of the North West, Mpumalanga, and Free State – Motlanthe said such behavior creates a “credibility gap.”
“If you have a situation where some leaders also play an active role in eroding the right of members to elect leaders freely, then of course the general membership will be corrupted and internal democratic systems are bound to be corrupted. So it becomes difficult to stem that tide because you create a credibility gap.” he said.
Motlanthe blamed the ANC’s top brass for not modeling exemplary conduct to its members, saying the problems of the party go right down to branch level.
“Leaders are supposed to be exemplary so that when you say we are out to stop this wrong practice, you should say so with a bit of credibility, people should believe you.
“But if there are sections of the membership who know that you are in fact part of their network, you actually operate and function outside of laid down procedures of the organisation; they will not take that message to heart.”
Asked by host JJ Tabane if he thinks the current crop of leadership led by Zuma has been exemplary in its adherence to the party’s set polices and constitution, Motlanthe responded emphatically by saying, “yes that’s my view”.
He said the ANC’s leaders should draw lessons from the party’s historic first national consultative conference held at Morogoro, Tanzania, in 1969 to find “practical solutions” to Africa’s oldest liberation movement.
“The first step is indeed to acknowledge that there is a problem and not just pay lip service to it. Then it affords you the opportunity to deal with that problem openly, candidly and find a solution to it,” he said.
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He advised the current leaders to learn from former ANC president Oliver Tambo’s inspirational leadership by convening a national consultative conference, as called for by more than 100 party veterans.
“Oliver Tambo, who was at that time the acting president general of the ANC, actually stepped down at the Morogoro conference…and said let’s debate and discuss the problem.”
So, should Zuma resign according to the former president?
“No, the problem of the ANC goes right down to branch level and so the reason why I was citing the Morogoro experience was to indicate how the leadership that accepts the seriousness and gravity of the problems facing the organisation would respond,” he said.
Motlanthe added that after the embarrassing electoral loses suffered by the ANC during last year’s municipal elections, the party’s leaders failed to deal with its problems head-on but instead continued on the same path as before.
“It’s a reflection of how the leadership perceives and understands the gravity of the problems facing the ANC now. They believe it is a problem that can be resolved by following the same routine.”