January 17, 2019


Manyoni seeks party renewal

Crying for change . . . ANC Free State deputy chairperson Thabo Manyoni

Crying for change . . . ANC Free State deputy chairperson Thabo Manyoni

As he pours his heart out about the future of the ANC

ANC Free State deputy chairperson Thabo Manyoni says his decision to contest for the position of provincial chairperson at the elective conference in August is not meant to cause ruptures but to strengthen the party by effectively addressing issues bedevilling it and bring organisational renewal.

Manyoni, who is the former mayor of Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, was deployed to the National Assembly as a Member of Parliament in September last year following the local government elections, but his stay was shortlived as he stayed there for less than a year.

He resigned last month saying he could not find much value in himself as a backbencher and felt he could serve the movement more meaningfully if he came back to the province.

His resignation came as a huge surprise in political circles both at the provincial and national level as it was not anticipated. Upon his return, he indicated that he was ready to lead the party in the province if nominated by the branches.

He however put a disclaimer to his bid, saying he would only stand for election if the incumbent, Ace Magashule, was not contesting. But in a turn of events, Manyoni said his bid for the top provincial post is no longer conditional as he is now prepared to stand against Magashule if he decided to contest.
“When I was in parliament, I realised that I could serve the ANC better by being here at home in the Free State rather than being in parliament as a backbencher,” said Manyoni in an interview on Wednesday.

“What prompted me to take the decision of resigning was when I realised that the ANC is faced with tough times, particularly now, when the opposition is geared to take the ruling party head on towards the 2019 elections. Our movement is also infiltrated by enemy agents and selfish individuals.

“I felt underutilised in parliament as there are bigger problems in the province that are tearing the organisation apart. I needed to be on the ground to take care of the branches as they are the atomic units and the building blocs of the ANC.

If the ANC is being destroyed at branch level, the movement will always be weak and ultimately be diminished. Factionalism is a decay that needs to be attacked at branch level,” he said.

He added: “It is time that we revitalise the movement, renew the organisation and make sure that we give people hope that this is the organisation that continues to fight for their liberation and aspirations.”

The veteran politician was however quick to say that he did not leave parliament in a huff as presumed by some people but that he consulted with the party’s leadership and got their blessing.

He said he spoke to the provincial chairperson Ace Magashule, provincial secretary William Bulwane, secretary general Gwede Mantashe and he also sent a message to President Jacob Zuma.

Organisational renewal is one of the nine key documents that the party will be discussing at its National Policy Conference set for June 30 to July 5 at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.

Amongst the key issues elaborated in the organisational renewal document, it is proposed that the ANC must develop a detailed cadre policy that is underscored by organisational ethics and moral values. The policy must after adoption be infused into the Code of Conduct of the organisation.

It is also suggested that the party must review its electoral processes in order to allow open contest and transparency. Comrades who make themselves available for public office must be prepared that their names and manifestos would be subjected to the scrutiny of ANC structures.

The ANC must also conduct a massive skills audit at all levels amongst its employees and its cadres with the objective of assessing their suitability and competencies.

Manyoni, who has a long standing relationship with Magashule from the days of the struggle, said he felt the party was not doing well and it was therefore important for him to give others a chance to save it.

“If he decides to contest, I will contest,” he said.

“I think it is high time we renew the ANC. It is still under his (Magashule) chairmanship that some of the problems faced by the party have come up. And I really think we need to renew the organisation and bring a different vision for the growth of the organisation in the province,” said Manyoni.

Asked whether his move was an indication that he had lost confidence in Magashule, Manyoni said it was not about the chairperson as an individual, but the people around him and the manner in which they influenced decisions had become an issue in the party.

“To tell the truth, it is not about an individual per se, but it is also about the people advising, the people supporting and so forth. And I think the majority of those people surrounding him and his advisers are not serving the organisation quite well.

When I talk about the ‘juniorising’ of the ANC, I am talking about people who do not have an understanding and history of the ANC yet they are at the helm, leading the branches, regions and so forth… Now, in order to renew the movement, you need to have a change at the top,” said Manyoni.

The provincial deputy chair noted he felt that the ANC of today had departed from its founding values and this could lead to its demise.

He dismissed assertions that he was pushing for regime change following a series of SMSs being circulated among some party members alleging that Manyoni was a strategic partner in an alliance with the working class working to topple Magashule in regime-change style.

“Regime change is actually not South African. It is a borrowed term from America and it does not apply here,” said Manyoni.

He explained that it comes from the time when the US was involved in overt and covert actions aimed at altering, replacing, or preserving foreign governments particularly in Latin America and the southwest Pacific resulting in the Mexican-American, Spanish-American, Philippine-American wars and African colonialism.

He also expressed concern that some people had lost hope in the party due to lack of consequences to those breaking the laws of the country, the constitutional guidelines of movement and that it is time that the situation is corrected.

“Presently in South Africa, we have three types of people. The first type is those who are bystanders and simply watching the space. We also have those who are acting – some are acting wrongly and some are acting rightly in that space of acting and there those who are benefitting in the process,” explained Manyoni.

He reiterated this call while delivering the Chris Hani Memorial Lecture at the University of Free State recently when he said: “We basically have three categories of people in this country now. It is the looters, the poor who are victims of that looting and also the by-standers. You must decide which category you fall under.”

He further said the state had been turned into a looting machine. “There are those who are trash, they steal, they loot, they rape in the name of traditions and customs, they cannot define us.

They cannot define the O.R. Tambos, they cannot define the Chris Hanis, they cannot define the Mandelas, they cannot define the Joe Slovos, they can never define us. We are not part of that trash.”

Manyoni added: “I think it calls upon us as activists to start taking charge and not just become beneficiaries or observers of the situation. We come from a culture where we were committed to changing this country without compensation and I think we still need that commitment to make sure that we move from the state we are in and we bring back that confidence in our people.”

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