Mantashe scathing over ‘power of money’ in ANC

THE use of money to influence voters in African National Congress (ANC) internal leadership contests was one of the biggest threats facing the party as it approached its centenary celebrations, secretarygeneral Gwede Mantashe said in an interview this week.

The money factor in political battles was one of the complications from the ANC becoming a ruling party in 1994, he said.

With the party’s leadership elections 12 months away, there are fears money could be used to influence them. In the build-up to the Polokwane elections in 2007, attempts to buy votes had been reported.

The ANC needed to stamp out such use of money, Mr Mantashe said. Money regularly influenced internal organisational process and provincial elections.

“The flow of cash is so much that money has more power than political ideology and political consciousness — that is the biggest threat (to the ANC).” Greed and corruption in government were also a threat the party had been grappling with since it came to power, Mr Mantashe said.

It was like taking people who “stayed in the bush, in the underground, (but now were) given responsibility to look after resources. It’s like taking a mouse and you say it must manage a cheese factory.”

Those who were deployed to government positions needed to be told that “they must not take resources that don’t belong to them”.

Corruption was manifesting itself in the irregular awarding of tenders, with members wanting to get rich quickly. Dealing with greed would require constant political education, Mr Mantashe said. “We must find ways of dealing with it. We can’t throw our hands in the air.

“If I am a minister I must be told over and over again that ‘you are paid well, you do not need to be greedy’.”

Political education would help to counter the influence of money, he said. Political education was not just in the class; every meeting of the ANC had to have political content. “We must begin to raise consciousness. Money cannot buy consciousness — you have not reached a particular level of consciousness (if you are bribable).”

The ANC also needed to deliver and remain relevant, as it would not “cash in” on its history forever. It needed to keep appealing to and representing the most advanced and progressive; becoming leaders of scientific development, and representing the interests of the majority.

The party needed to work on retaining the respect it earned during the struggle days, he said. The historical image of a liberation movement had to be retained by using positions and resources for the benefit of society and not of party leaders. It should not be taken for granted the ANC would rule forever.

Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said it was “very honest” of Mr Mantashe to speak out on the party’s problems. The ANC had to regulate political contests so that money was not the biggest influence.

mkokelis@bdfm.co.za