ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has issued a stern warning to party members who want to push for expropriation of land without compensation.
He said such a radical policy shift was likely to plunge the country into “deeper crises”.
Mantashe raised his concerns on the day President Jacob Zuma’s supporters in economic transformation commissions at the party’s national policy conference in Gauteng pushed hard to have land expropriated without compensation made ANC policy.
A source in the commission told the Dispatch that the resolution was “to propose the amendment of section 25 of the country’s constitution to make provision for expropriation of land without compensation”.
This was after the likes of Enoch Godongwana, commission chair, Derek Hanekom and Pravin Gordhan were drowned out by those who wanted what Mantashe described as a “populist” policy shift.
In an exclusive interview on Monday Mantashe said such drastic policy shifts were called for when there was a panic mode in an organisation because “you want to get instant solutions now and win back the support you are losing and win popularity instantly. And you do things that are extreme.
“In our experience looking into other revolutions is that every time, once you do that, you deal with issues haphazardly and dig deeper into crisis.
“Let me give an example: when there is factionalism and populism people tend to go to extremes. We all agree here we need to accelerate land redistribution.
“But when you say you must expropriate without compensation, what do you mean in essence?
“Do you want land distribution to be as if you are offering umwangalala [freebies]?”
Mantashe also differed when it came to a policy proposal from Eastern Cape delegates that each member vote individually for national executive committee (NEC) members and top officials, including the president.
“It’s an emotional proposal because it will favour the elite. Your rural voter will not have that access, very few will, and therefore you are giving this to the elite – both the business and political elite,” said Mantashe.
The conference has brought more than 3500 delegates to the Johannesburg venue since Friday.
Notable was the absence of ANC veterans. This is the group that wrote an open letter to Zuma earlier this year asking him to step down and calling for a consultative conference ahead of the current policy conference.
But it was not to be, and instead the ANC set the first two days of the policy conference for introspection.
The veterans, led by Mavuso Msimang and Frank Chikane, rejected the offer and boycotted the week-long conference which ends today.
Mantashe said the veterans “missed out”.
He also said some of the leaders had acted in bad faith during the discussions leading to the fallout.
“Msimang says we are lying, but he has never been to any of those meetings. When he refutes facts of meetings he was not party to, that in itself is a very big flaw.
“He was in the first big meeting for everybody but when we met as a six-a-side to discuss details, he can’t refute that because he was not part of the meeting,” said Mantashe.
He said the ANC leaders begged the veterans to “leave the form” referring to their petition which had demands including Zuma to resign and instead, Mantashe said, “let us deal with the content”.
“That’s what they rejected. I think it is unfortunate that they walked away because if they were here, anybody who is here will tell you that it was worth it because we were dealing with organisational issues,” added Mantashe.