The ANC leadership that ascended to power at the Polokwane conference had ridden roughshod on the party’s constitution‚ giving rise to the current malaise besetting the country‚ particularly its law enforcement agencies.
They had used their positions within the governing party as a step ladder to plum government jobs in order to serve their masters‚ instead of delivering to the electorate.
This had carried over in 2012 to the Mangaung conference‚ at which a pliable national executive committee (NEC) emerged and did what it was told. The election of that Mangaung NEC had spawned illegitimate provincial executive committees‚ which in turn resulted in the destruction of ANC branches.
The Mangaung NEC had come about as a result of a manipulated process‚ but if the stakes were high in 2012‚ they were even higher for the December 2017 national elective conference.
The current state of affairs could not be laid at the feet of President Jacob Zuma‚ as he did not act alone but moved in concert with an ineffectual NEC‚ barring a few exceptions‚ said former finance minister Trevor Manuel while delivering the second annual Eric Molobi memorial lecture at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Molobi was one of the founding fathers of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s and had served time on Robben Island for his political activism‚ but when freedom came shunned public office. Instead‚ as ANC activists of old‚ he had expanded his efforts elsewhere.
Titled Leadership‚ ethics and change — reflections on the Molobi legacy‚ Manuel rendered a stinging rebuke during the lecture about the current ANC and its leadership‚ saying all that had been left of the party’s rich history were its symbols and slogans.
He also tore into the ANC caucus in Parliament for its failure to effect remedial action following the Constitutional Court judgment on Nkandla‚ by using its majority.
“Why have the National Prosecuting Authority‚ the office of the public protector‚ the lower courts and crime intelligence been rendered incapable?” asked Manuel as he drew a stark picture of the rapid erosion of the rule of law.
“Powerful elites must be as bound by the rule of law as much as the poorest and the most vulnerable‚” he added.
The ANC leadership ushered in at the Polokwane conference saw itself alone as constituting the movement‚ which was a marked departure from the party of old‚ which saw broader society as forming part of its fabric.
“Look at chapters two and three of the ANC constitution [and you will understand why the current leadership] easily label other [critical of them] free agents‚” said Manuel‚ who expressed dismay that the ANC had dropped all pretenses of caring about the greater good amid institutional decline and a economy facing the spectre of further sovereign credit ratings downgrades.