Mondli Makhanya: The Ace up the Guptas’ sleeve

Renewal is a term you hear a lot in the ANC, for as long as the party has grappled with life in a democratic South Africa.

More recently, with the ANC suffering from the severest form of listeriosis, it has been used alongside the term self-correction.

In the Organisational Renewal and Organisational Design document that was prepared for the recently concluded 54th national conference – updated from previous conferences – the ANC describes its ideal “cadre”. This “new cadre”, the ANC says, must internalise a mind-set and behaviour that is “first and foremost” about serving the people and advancing “the interests of the masses”. His or her lifestyle and intellectual depth must inspire others in the community to believe that the “ANC represents a better future for the country”.

“Such a cadre must earn respect of the community as a leader of society,” the document says.

I say “updated from previous conferences” to make the point that creating this model cadre is not a new effort on the part of the ANC.

In fact, then secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe waxed lyrical about it at the first national general council in Port Elizabeth in 2000.

The political school that was envisaged during his and Thabo Mbeki’s tenure at the helm of the ANC was meant to aid in the creation of this cadre.

Then, in 2007, the ANC decided to make the dirtiest member in its ranks president. From then the decline was precipitous.

When it had a chance to correct this, in Mangaung in 2012, it reconfirmed the dirty leader and empowered him with a leadership collective that could protect him.

In 2017, with the hindsight of 10 years of mayhem, the ANC once more had a chance to redeem itself. Instead, it chose to semi-redeem itself.

There was much excitement this week about the non-election of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as ANC president.

Her election would have been calamitous as it would have empowered the rough and corruptible wing of the ANC.

Even though she herself has little blemish and has many good qualities, the scoundrels who would have carried her into Luthuli House would have proceeded to eat like refugees on the day of an aid delivery.

Yes, let’s applaud this moment, which is a culmination of society calling a halt to the rapaciousness of Zuma and his ilk.

However, the excitement should be restrained. This week’s outcome is a positive development, no doubt about that.

Familial ties to the Guptas

The Zuma regiments are no longer in control of the hillock, but they still have a vast arsenal and a will to fight.

As is reflected elsewhere in this edition, many dodgy characters and incompetents made it onto the national executive committee (NEC), where they will make sure that the ANC does not self-correct.

To save their own skins, they will wage battle to prevent Zuma being recalled and being made to stand trial for the million crimes he has committed against the republic.

They will do all in their power to frustrate the state capture inquiry and the ability of Parliament to properly perform its oversight role.

Some of those who made it onto the NEC are servants of the Guptas and have done their bidding in their government portfolios.

Of greatest concern is whose hands the ANC’s secretariat rests in.

The office of the secretary-general, the engine of the organisation which in some ways is more influential than the presidency, is now occupied by someone whose name is inscribed on the same rock as that of Atul, Ajay and Rajesh.

Ace Magashule’s familial ties to the Guptas, via his sons Tshepiso and Thato, are as tight as can be. He virtually shares the parenting rights with the Guptas.

Under Magashule, the Free State became one of the Guptas’ most fertile harvesting fields. He and his MECs facilitated the Guptas’ access to Free State government budgets.

The infamous dairy farm, which was used as a money laundering vehicle, was one of the most brazen acts of theft and of collusion to steal public money between a government and deviant businessmen.

Magashule has not been shy to publicly and angrily defend the Guptas by seeking to direct attention from them.

With him in the SG’s seat, they can afford to let off a lot more firecrackers at the next family celebration in Saxonwold.

Magashule will share the secretariat with long-serving deputy Jessie Duarte.

The newly re-elected deputy secretary-general has strenuously tried to protest that she is not infected with the Gupta virus, to little avail.

The family ties with active members of the Gupta state capture machine are just too intimate to ignore.

Duarte has not helped herself by acting like the family spokesperson and stridently defending them. And oh, how they love her at that funny television news channel and its associated newspaper.

So while a lot was achieved this week in avoiding the total capture of the country’s governing party by rogue elements, this ANC, which seeks renewal and self-correction, took the opportunity to donate its engine room to the boys from Saharanpur.