ANC: Foreign ‘tentacles’ work with opposition parties
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Opposition parties were colluding with “tentacles” from outside South Africa to unseat the ANC, alleged the ruling party’s chairwoman Baleka Mbete at a meeting for young professionals in Cape Town this week.
The country’s former deputy president and economic development minister Ebrahim Patel were guests of a meeting organised by the Progressive Professionals Forum on Thursday (April 17 2014). This forum “calls together professionals who are ready and willing to contribute towards the growth of our society and country”.
US-based investment bank Goldman Sachs also presented a positive review of South Africa’s performance during its first 20 years of democracy. The review was launched late last year.
Mbete and Patel said the review and other positive indicators proved that opposition parties and the media were intent on portraying only the negative aspects of the ANC-led government, and ignored its achievements.
“Regardless of our good story… there is a narrative from outside the borders, or sponsored from there, that some people have a responsibility to do everything they can to unseat former liberation (movement) governments,” claimed Mbete.
“We come across this, whether they are SADC (southern Africa), Africa or beyond Africa. There is heavy foreign-based effort to say and do everything you can to remove governments led by former liberation movements.”
Mbete added: “When the ANC put forward a candidate to lead the AU (African Union), we came across such a fight. We know some of the networks we are dealing with have their tentacles in our country.
“I say this because some of the opposition party activities and campaigns are also funded by those sources, by those origins. The good thing is that we already knew about it.”
Mbete said she had “been in contact” with politicians from other countries on this matter. She said one politician “from a small opposition party in her country” told her: “I hope you people are ware of this campaign”.
“We opposition parties in our countries have been approached over the years that we could actually be funded to come together against the parties that have been in the forefront of liberation struggles,” said Mbete.
“The more the ANC operates around the world we have come across these bodies. Some of what we have come across in the trade unions have also been supported by those tentacles that have found away into our country. It has a negative influence of confusing us as South Africans.”
Patel said the national government has achieved more than the apartheid regime for most South Africans during the last 20 years of democracy.
But he lamented: “Good news is so cautiously received and underplayed. It does a disservice to the democracy.”
“The net new job creation in the economy was 652,000 people. There was not a single headline about that. Had we lost 50,000 jobs then that would have been a headline. We need to change the public discourse,” said Patel.
He wondered why “good news is not highlighted” because it seemed that “good news is an allergy”.
“When I quote data that shows a problem in government it is accepted and published in headlines. When I come up with data that is positive, there is a suspicion,” said Patel.
“There must be an openness (from the media) to recognising the good story that we have to tell. We are not saying (we need) sunshine journalism. But when we have so many good stories, why can’t they be highlighted?”
Mbete, who takes to electioneering this weekend in Khayelitsha, added: “We have strict instructions from Luthuli House (ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg) that our message is to tell the good stories.”
She referred to Luthuli House as “what they call the big house”. And said the ANC planned to restructure government departments after the May 7 election.
“We will relook at the way that we have structured government. We will look at where we are strong and weak. Where can we afford to dismantle or to reconfigure a department,” she said.
“So you do away with some government departments… We need a ministry for small and medium businesses.”
Mbete said this department would likely also address South Africa’s private sector expansion in Africa as it was “gobbling up” small businesses in other countries.
“Friends of mine have arrived here from Tanzania and asked, ‘Has the ANC thought about that?’ All we saw was a good development. That now we can be players on the African continent,” said Mbete.
“The first meeting I had with the president in Ghana, he was fuming about the attitudes of South African business heads. He was saying, ‘They must never do this here’. I had never seen such an angry head of state.
“It’s not all good when we step into a different environment. What do we suggest be done to manage that relationship as a consequence of our success?”
Patel also turned to the Western Cape and said it had created more jobs for whites. He said 22,000 jobs were created for Africans last year, while 97,000 went to whites in the province.
“White Western Cape citizens have the right to be absorbed into the economy. But when you build an equitable society you want to make sure it’s done in an equitable manner,” said Patel.
Colin Coleman, who runs the South African office of Goldman Sachs from Johannesburg, said South Africa remained among the world’s most unequal societies.
“This is a long journey… If you take a society that has had 300 years of colonisation, we must adjust our time forecasts. We have deep structural issues,” said Coleman.