Mac Maharaj tells ANC to shape up or ship out
Former minister and presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has warned that the ANC has to shape up or ship out as its position as the leading party is not only threatened by the opposition but also by its internal battles and governance mistakes.
Maharaj was speaking during the 100th Anniversary of the Life of OR Tambo Lecture, which he delivered at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
He said part of the challenges facing political parties was that people now viewed politics as a career when it should be something they went into because they wanted to serve people. He said ANC leaders deployed in government must be effective and efficient because that would earn them votes in the next elections.
“1994 changed the scenario entirely. We got into the Struggle before, not as career; or for a wage. We did not go into it with an expectation that tomorrow we would be rewarded,” he said.
Maharaj said the current factionalism and contestation ahead of the 54th ANC national conference was not the first time the leading party faced such challenges, but it always survived.
While he confessed he was pained about the declining numbers of the ANC membership, he said pointing fingers at the leadership would not help unify the party. He called for ANC members to have tough conversations with each other where they could talk about the problems that led to the organisation’s current state.
Maharaj said some of the lessons that South Africa could draw from leaders like Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu was how the trio rigorously debated when they differed in views, but they never competed, instead they complemented each other. He described Tambo as a resilient leader, while Mandela was resourceful and Sisulu persistent.
“Tambo never allowed the revolution to devour itself. He was devoted to the well-being of everyone in the struggle, to the point of subjugating his own needs to those of his colleagues. What he wanted of himself often did not match with what the ANC demanded of him, but he bowed to the whims of the party.”
He would not be drawn into revealing his preferred candidate for the ANC presidential position, saying the decision rested with party members.