Mbalula says only thing ANC members don’t need to declare is ‘concubines’

The police minister tried to make light of his sexist faux pas.


Addressing the media at Nasrec in Johannesburg on the outcomes of the ANC’s discussions around unity at its fifth policy conference, national executive committee member Fikile Mbalula said his party would be part of moves to be more transparent around how its members make their money.

He was partly answering a question around whether the ANC agreed with Human Settlements Minister that ANC members found guilty of involvement in the Gupta leaks scandal should be expelled.

Mbalula said he agreed that the ANC was “looking into” the question of regulating people involved in business.

“We can’t say to society ‘arrest and investigate all those who’ve got questionable wealth’ and members of the ANC are excluded from that. It cannot be.

“It starts with us first … society expects us to lead by example.

He went on: “You know now with parliament, we are being asked to declare everything. The only thing left is, if you’ve got concubines … that’s not what you are supposed to declare.

“We declare everything!”

When the gallery responded with laughter and protest at what had come across as a clearly sexist comment, the minister hurriedly tried to backtrack and spin the statement.

“No, no, no, I’m just making an example. Concubines, by the way, does not mean only a man. It could also mean a woman. A woman can have a [lover] outside.”

The dictionary, however, defines ‘concubine’ as only referring to a woman “who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives”.

The minister has often been accused of making sexist comments in the past.

He tried to joke that declaring lovers would probably also become mandatory in future.

Mbalula said all these demands for declarations was “very painful” for those opposed to it but they “make us to move straight”.

He had earlier given an overview of the party’s discussions around unity at the conference, in which he clarified that the ANC viewed “white monopoly capital” as an historical term, but the party was not opposed to “capital” as such but was opposed to monopolies in business, regardless of which group might be exerting such a monopoly.

He also said that the people who had been making threats against journalists this week would be arrested.

Later

No holy cows inside ANC conference – Mbalula

“Everything” has been put on the table for discussion at the African National Congress’s 5th national policy conference currently under way in Johannesburg and nothing has been “swept under the carpet”, ANC campaigns head Fikile Mbalula said on Sunday.

“Everything is laid bare in the conference… there are no holy cows in there,” he told reporters after presenting the organisational renewal report at the plenary the precious day.

The ANC had survived difficult times. “This is a tough moment for the ANC and we cannot let it self-destruct because then we would be ignoring the great work done by leaders such as Oliver Tambo,” Mbalula said.

Issues raised which were wreaking havoc within the fractured ANC included the influence of the wealthy, politically connected Gupta family, factionalism, cronyism, buying of votes for certain leaders, and so-called gate keeping. Most of the problems within the ANC, such as factionalism, has been discussed for over two decades and no decision had been implemented, he said.

“We must no longer pay lip service to this matter anymore… we must acknowledge that factionalism is among us. We are at the present moment dealing with the ‘Eye of the Needle’, but it is not enforced.”

The ANC’s ”Through the Eye of The Needle” document was produced in 2001 and sets out guidelines on how to elect leaders, including processes on how to elect the best leaders from ANC structures.

Among the proposals  for a renewed ANC was an electoral council which would serve as a leadership vetting structure to ensure that credible members led the party, Mbalula said.

”The resolution on the establishment of the revolutionary electoral council must be implemented. This process will be guided by the ‘Through the Eye of the Needle’; the council will consist of the best in the ANC, not those who have retired themselves to a point where they are not interested to stand for leadership… this will help us exorcise that tendency of factionalism and allow the ANC leadership to be discussed in the open.

”The council’s processes will ensure that those who are elected to serve in the ANC have passed the test of time in terms of their impeccable credentials,” he said.

The power to choose leaders still lay with the branches, but the scrutiny on whether or not those nominated met set criteria would be the responsibility of the council. The leadership lobbying process ”engineered by clandestine factionalism” destabilised the ANC.

”The fact that people have got [an] interest to stand for elections in an organisation should not be a taboo… it should be allowed. We must ban this negative lobbying that includes dispensing of patronage and all dangers that come along with that,” he said.

Another contentious matter was the ANC’s integrity commission headed by anti-apartheid struggle veteran and stalwart  Andrew Mlangeni. The commission is seen as toothless for its inability to take decisive action against those implicated in allegations of corruption.

The commission should have the power to subpoena those implicated. ”The integrity commission should have powers without subjecting itself to the will of the ANC NEC [national executive committee]… it must subpoena people to come and account… it must have teeth to bite,” Mbalula said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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