The country is facing an economic and political crisis and those in the ANC need to ask themselves whether the party is acting in the best interest of the nation, the party’s Gauteng deputy chairperson David Makhura said on Monday.
“Many of us know that in history when the ANC was having meetings, we knew that the ANC would take the right decisions,” he said in a recording of his address given at the memorial service of Umkhonto we Sizwe veteran, Shirish Nanabhai, provided by Netwerk24.
“Many of us know that in history when the ANC was going to consider what next to do, we knew that the ANC would act in the best interest of the people and the country. We should ask ourselves… whether we can still say that today, and if we have any shadow of a doubt, there is a fundamental problem we must fix,” Makhura said to loud applause.
Makhura, who is also Gauteng premier, was speaking in his capacity as the ANC’s provincial deputy chairperson.
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The ANC in Gauteng has in the past spoken out strongly against some decisions taken by the ruling party and its handling of some issues, such as e-tolls and spending on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.
Makhura said those in the ANC needed to ask themselves what needed to be done to move the country forward.
“There is no value in denialism and there is no heroism in digging our heads into the sand. We’ve got to confront all these challenges, for comrade Shirish and his generation taught us that the ANC does not exist for itself.
“We’ve got to do everything in our power to ensure that the ANC does not lose touch with what South Africans feel.”
This week is set to be a long and arduous one for the ruling party.
The party is currently holding an extended national working committee meeting in Cape Town.
This followed last week’s Constitutional Court ruling that President Jacob Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution when he did not comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action regarding payment for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
It ruled that the National Assembly also failed to uphold the Constitution when it set aside Madonsela’s report.
Since the judgment, calls for Zuma to step down or have the ANC recall him have increased.
On Tuesday afternoon, the National Assembly will debate a motion calling for Zuma’s impeachment.
Before the debate, ANC officials were expected to meet the party’s parliamentary caucus. The political committee, headed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, was also expected to meet.
Makhura on Monday said if the ANC put itself on one side and the people on the other, the party would cease to be the ANC.
‘We will need courage’
Its members needed to “summon the courage” of struggle veterans such as Nanabhai to ensure that the ANC remained the voice of the people.
The ANC had to make sense when it spoke, said Makhura.
“Sometimes we don’t make sense when we speak as the ANC now. Sometimes when we speak, it’s difficult to understand what the ANC said.
“We will need courage to tackle all the challenges that we face today.”
Loyalty to the country was more important than loyalty to the ANC, he said.
Speaking at the ANC KwaZulu-Natal’s elective conference last year, Zuma said he believed the ANC came first.
“I argued one time with someone who said the country comes first and I said as much as I understand that, I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first,” he said at the time.
Since then the president has been asked to retract the comment. However, he refused, saying he had been speaking as ANC leader and not president of the country.
“The statement I made does not devalue the Constitution of the Republic in any way, nor does it contradict the Oath of Office which I took when I was sworn in as the President of the Republic of South Africa. There is therefore no reason to retract the statement I made,” he said in a written reply to parliamentary questions in December.”