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Response to the distortions by Mail & Guardian

13 March 2012

I led a team of the African National Congress to a Pre-Election Debate at Regenesys Business School on the 12th March 2014. In the course of discussions a question was raised as to why is the ANC losing support among white, Indian and coloured communities. The question was whether the ANC has enough minorities in its list of candidates. Because the same person who asked the question did not like the answer perhaps, silently the answer that was given is distorted publicly. It our duty to correct such a distortion as it not only unfortunate but malicious and devoid of truth.

It was clarified that the ANC not losing any support among coloured communities in general. If that was the case we could not have secured the majority in the Northern Cape, in the rural Western Cape where the ANC is doing relatively well, and in the Western part of the Eastern Cape. In those areas coloured people constitute a majority and are running structures of the ANC. There may be truth that we have lost a lot of ground in metropolitan areas.

It was further explained that where we are losing ground there are very weak structures of the ANC. Even comrades who appear on the lists form these areas do very little organisational work in these areas. Hence the trend is that it is the old activists who remain in the structures and sometimes do gate-keeping. This is evidenced by little or no emergence of young activists in many of these metropolitan areas. The appeal that was made in good faith was that we must build strong structures of the ANC in the so-called minority areas. It was further explained that the concept of minority is actually self deprivation because communities that were part of the majority when we struggled for freedom cannot be relegated into a minority now. It is actually a terrible choice.

We must emphasise as a matter of fact that where structures are weak the support of the party will reflect that. It is serious that strong structures must be built in all communities. If diagnosing failure to build structures as the basis of the weak performance in these areas is equal to laziness; I will plead guilty as charged. But if we are serious about our organisation we will invest time and energy in build strong structures in every suburban area and township, in every dorpie and village. This is not an insult to anybody but an appeal that cadres of our movement must take time to build the organisation and not have a debate about being put on the list.

In trying to explain that people get elected with any need to put them on the list there are comrades from these so-called minorities who make it to the top 25% without any intervention because structures know them. In those instances members of our movement don`t see minorities but activists and leaders of the organisation. The appeal that we must make is comrades must not assume the title of being victims in their organisation. They have the same rights and duties as any other member of the ANC. But we must not evade the reality of weak structures in many areas where our performance is weak. The criticism is not directed to minorities but activists, members and leaders of the ANC, anywhere and everywhere.

The ANC cannot categorise its members and leaders into minorities and majorities. That categorisation will introduce a culture of being cautious when dealing with some members. The consequence of that is that the other section that is not regarded as sensitive will be looked down upon and be taken for granted. The temptation of putting ourselves in these boxes must be resisted and deal with all the members honestly and candidly.

If there are problems in the suburban area in Freeway Park, Boksburg, where I reside I cannot expect "leadership" from outside the area to come and do basic organisational work in my residential area. Any leadership that comes to the area should be reinforcing work being done by the activists in the area.

That criticism is not reserved for the so-called minorities but will apply equally to senior leaders who reside in suburbs but do no organisational work in those areas. They then start believing that it is impossible to organise such areas. This is the harsh reality that must be confronted head-on.

Gwede Mantashe
Per email
Secretary General
African National Congress