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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

NEC: There is no conspiracy


21 November 2005

The National Executive Committee of the ANC at its meeting of 18-20 November 2005, received an important joint report from President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Jacob Zuma on current challenges facing the movement. It focused on matters arising from the current criminal prosecution of our Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, relating to alleged corruption and other matters.

The NEC welcomed the submission and effort of the President and Deputy President, which fulfilled their organisational constitutional mandate, that had been formally requested by the National Working Committee (NWC) and the NEC, to lead the process towards the necessary substantive NEC discussion of these challenges. Their presentation to the NEC laid the basis for such a discussion. It helped to define the roadmap according to which leaders and members of the ANC and its Alliance partners should constructively handle the current situation, bearing in mind its longer term implications.

Guided by this input, the NEC conducted a comprehensive and frank discussion. This vigorous discussion reaffirmed and further strengthened the traditions of our movement, of open, democratic and comradely engagement within our structures, criticism and self-criticism, and focus on the improvement of the efficacy of our movement as a servant of the people. The discussion took place over three days, with the participation of virtually all members of the NEC.

The meeting did not canvass issues that relate directly to the oncoming trial of the Deputy President, proceeding from the principled position that these matters are sub judice, and that the NEC is not a court of law and therefore does not have the authority to adjudicate these matters. The NEC reaffirmed the principled position of the ANC never to interfere with the due process of law.

The NEC welcomed the input of the President and Deputy President, which has helped to clarify the principled approach of the ANC in dealing with current developments. We expect leaders and members of the ANC to behave in a manner consistent with these principles, as reflected in this Statement and the document adopted at the 9 September 2005 meeting of the NEC.

The NEC received reports on the ANC Regional General Councils held to brief members after the NEC meeting of 9 September. During these interactions, the members of the movement expressed their agreement with the principles that should guide the ANC in dealing with our current challenges, as outlined in the 9 September statement. Even more critically, members of the movement expect decisive leadership from the NEC. The resolutions outlined hereunder seek to provide further guidelines on how members should conduct themselves. The NEC will remain seized of this matter.

In dealing with this matter, the NEC is informed by the imperative to unite the organisation, Alliance, the democratic movement and the nation as a whole in pursuit of the fundamental objective to create a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. In the current period, the immediate task is to implement programmes to speed up growth and development, ensure the creation of more work opportunities, reduce poverty and generally improve people's quality of life. This requires a strong ANC.

Unity of the ANC and democratic movement

1.. The African National Congress, as a consequence of its principled struggle against racism and oppression, remains a source of hope and inspiration not only for the people of South Africa, but for many across Africa and other parts of the world.

2.. The ANC therefore has a profound historic responsibility to resist any developments that threaten to undermine its capacity and that of the democratic movement to lead the process of fundamental social transformation in South Africa and contribute to the creation of a better Africa and a better world.

3.. The NEC paid tribute to the remarkable and unprecedented achievement of the ANC, over the course of several decades, to forge a united, coherent movement consisting of individuals with a widely diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and views.

4.. In this regard and taking into account the totality of challenges facing the movement, the NEC reaffirmed the paramount importance of the unity and cohesion of the ANC.

5.. In this context, the NEC re-affirmed that, whatever its diversity, there is one ANC. The NEC therefore unanimously rejected the notion that individuals are required to choose sides, on the basis of the absolutely false assertion that the President and Deputy President are leading contending factions within the movement.

6.. The NEC takes this opportunity to reiterate that the interaction between the President and the Deputy President, as the two most senior officials of the movement with defined constitutional responsibilities, had the sole and central purpose to assist the NEC to consider the current situation in a constructive manner. It had absolutely nothing to do with resolving non-existent divisions between them about the current situation and the future direction of the movement and the form and pace of social transformation. The NEC reaffirmed that, together with the President and Deputy President, and regardless of alleged or actual perceptions to the contrary, it does not know of any such divisions.

Responsibility of leadership

1.. As the elected national leadership of the ANC, the NEC has the responsibility to provide clear and unequivocal leadership on critical matters facing the organisation.

2.. In reflecting on this responsibility, the NEC acknowledged and accepted that it had to respond much beyond the current challenging circumstances facing the movement.

3.. While it has taken specific decisions on these matters, and has issued public pronouncements on the positions of the organisation, the NEC determined that more communication is essential in articulating and propagating these positions, within and outside of the ranks of the movement.

4.. The NEC acknowledged the fact that significant progress has been made during the first eleven years of democratic rule towards the realisation of the goal of building a new society. It therefore recognised the need to develop a political and theoretical understanding of the current situation - both with respect to the process of transformation and its impact on the movement. This will enable the movement better to give cogent leadership to public discourse on the matter.

5.. With regard to these responsibilities of leadership, the meeting expressed concern that members of NEC and other leaders, and cadres of the movement generally, have not been sufficiently active in defence of the publicly announced positions of the movement. Despite this, loyal members of the movement have responded to the challenges we have mentioned in their own way. Nevertheless, the insufficient response especially of members of the NEC allowed some undisciplined elements, those who do not subscribe to ANC positions on these matters and those opposed to the movement to seize and occupy the political space.

6.. In this context, the NEC reaffirmed the need to address the challenge of ensuring that we develop a cadreship capable of addressing the challenges thrown up by the current phase of the national democratic revolution - building a caring society and resisting temptations which arise from the worst features of a social system that encourages materialism and greed.

7.. The NEC has therefore resolved to:

Ø. Be more active in explaining the ANC's approach to the current situation to both the membership and society at large.

Ø. Re-assert discipline within our ranks to ensure compliance with its decisions and respect for the culture and traditions of the movement.

Ø. Expose and fight factionalism in our structures, and encourage members to report to the Secretary General's Office any rumour-mongering that seeks to undermine the unity and cohesion of the movement, so that this poison be addressed honestly and openlithin the structures of the ANC.

Ø. Intensify organisational and mass work by members of the NEC.

Preserving the values, principles and practices of the ANC

1.. In 1994, the masses of our people elected the ANC to constitute our country's first ever democratically elected government. Among other challenges, this meant that the ANC had to learn how it should function both as a mass movement for national liberation and a ruling party of government, representing the people as a whole, in a manner defined in the National Constitution. The ANC thus has to build itself as a mass-based movement for national liberation and at the same time direct institutions of state on the basis of the National Constitution and electoral mandate.

2.. The NEC noted that among the new challenges we face, subjective weaknesses related to the fact that we are in power have crept into our organisational systems and practices. Some of these were identified at the recent National General Council (NGC). Some of these have contributed to the manner in which the movement has handled the issues relating to the controversy affecting the Deputy President. These include a weak politicalconsciousness, in-fighting and factionalism (mostly related to competition for positions and resources), and ill-discipline. This challenge highlights the key responsibility of building and strengthening the ANC, and reinforcing, in practice, the values and principles of the ANC.

3.. It highlights the challenge of ensuring that the decisions of the constitutional structures of the movement are respected and implemented in accordance with the time-honoured traditions of the movement. This includes the decision of the NEC, taken in March 2005, with respect to the process of the election of the ANC leadership.

4.. The NEC agreed to restate the position of the organisation on this matter, namely:

1.. The NEC agreed that there was no reason to interfere with the normal course of organisational processes, either with regards to the election of the national leadership due in 2007 or the premature selection of candidates for the 2009 elections.

2.. The ANC will therefore attend to these matters at the appropriate time, according to established procedures, and within the organisational practices of the movement.

5.. In this regard, the NEC accepted the reaffirmation conveyed by the President and Deputy President that while carrying out his duties in the ANC and government, the Deputy President has never sought to be elected to any position and has never engaged in, nor sought to encourage, any campaign on his behalf.

6.. While recognising that members of the movement may have views on the suitability of various leaders with respect to the Presidency of the ANC, the NEC counsels caution, patience and discipline. This applies especially in relation to how the matter is handled in the media and public manifestations.

7.. The NEC therefore resolved to:

Ø. Strengthen branches and encourage comprehensive reflection on strategic political issues as part of branch programmes.

Ø. Strengthen political education institutions and ensure they are well-resourced to carry out their functions.

Ø. Conduct an assessment of the extent to which pursuit of material resources impacts on content of interaction in branches and other structures and on the functioning of organisation.

Ø. Undertake a more comprehensive clarification on the management of the ANC' s processes with respect to the election of national leadership.

Ø. Call on all members, in line with the organisation's approach to this matter, to desist from any campaigning in relation to the election of the national leadership, consistent with its March 2005 decision.

8.. In this respect, the NEC reaffirmed the status and role of the ANC Youth League and Women's League in respect of the policies, structures and culture of movement. The NEC recognised the historical role of the Youth League as a vocal and radical voice, acting within the broad policies and under the political discipline of the ANC. It recognised the role of the Women's League in mobilising women and pursuing the advancement and emancipation of women. The performance by the leagues of their respective roles and functions is integral to the political programme of the movement. It is expected that, in their day-to-day conduct, the Leagues will always adhere to the culture and traditions of the movement, bearing in mind that they are an integral part of the ANC.

Conduct of institutions of the democratic state

1.. Matters pertaining to the substance of the case against the Deputy President, appropriately, will be canvassed by the courts. This includes a determination regarding whether there has been abuse of state institutions in the management of the case against the Deputy President.

2.. The NEC wishes to reaffirm that state institutions charged with investigating criminal matters, having come across specific information relating to the conduct of any official of the movement or government which could be in violation of the law, have the right and duty to pursue these matters as mandated by the Constitution. The NEC respects and will uphold the rule of law, and we will seek to ensure that all institutions of state themselves uphold this principle. We reject the notion that there can be one "law" for the ANC and another "law" for the people as a whole.

3.. The NEC reaffirms the positions of the movement on the need to speed up the transformation of all state institutions so they are better able to serve society in accordance with the precepts of the country's Constitution, in a professional, efficient and non-partisan manner.

4.. Cadres of the movement deployed in government, in fulfilling their public responsibilities, should act as the best defenders of the National Constitution, our democratic values and principles, the rule of law, and the rights of all citizens, as spelt out in the Bill of Rights. Consistent with the relevant decisions adopted by the 51st ANC National Conference in Stellenbosch, the NEC will intensify its work to ensure the accountability of all its members in this regard.

5.. The NEC wishes to reaffirm the ANC's commitment to due process, both with respect to the law and to the rules and regulations of the ANC. Both within the ANC and in relation to broader constitutional and legal matters, the NEC encourages all members openly to confront perceived or actual unfair treatment by any state institution or functionary, within the relevant constitutional or statutory structures.

6.. On matters pertaining to the conduct of the investigation of the alleged criminal misconduct of the Deputy President, the NEC is of the firm view that the judicial process is the appropriate mechanism to come to a determination on this matter. This includes the system of recourse to higher courts provided for in the country's Constitution.

7.. The NEC appreciates the concern expressed by the Deputy President regarding matters canvassed in the report of the Public Protector on specific instances of conduct and pronouncements by investigators the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the National Prosecuting Authority, which the Public Protector found to have violated the Deputy President 's human rights. The NEC expressed its support for the decisions of the national Parliament in this regard. The NEC also noted explanations proffered then regarding the response of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the National Director of Public Prosecutions to the Public Protector's report. The NEC and the ANC as a whole should have pronounced themselves more firmly on these issues, particularly the findings of the Public Protector on the rights of the Deputy President. To the extent that failure to do so has inadvertently strengthened the perception of a "political conspiracy", the NEC expresses its sincere regret.

Supporting and defending the leadership of the ANC

1.. Having considered the report presented by the President and Deputy President, the NEC understands the events, information and circumstances that have impelled the Deputy President to come to the conclusions he has reached regarding what he perceives as representing a 'political conspiracy'.

2.. This makes it unnecessary for the ANC to pursue within the Alliance the proposal it had tabled to constitute an Alliance Commission to establish the facts or otherwise of the existence of a political conspiracy against our Deputy President.

3.. The NEC recognises that, as a leader of the ANC and like other leaders and the organisation as a whole, the Deputy President may have been subjected to hostile action by forces opposed to the National Democratic Revolution, and thus the 'conspiracy' that has been spoken of. However, we are not unanimous in our conviction and the determination that such a 'conspiracy' did not originate from within our movement, nor was it conducted by any legitimate structure of the movement or collective of genuine leaders or members of the ANC. The NEC therefore unequivocally rejects any suggestion that there is in existence a political conspiracy within our movement and its leadership, dedicated to marginalising or in any other way harming our Deputy President.

4.. The NEC considered, in general, the question of 'political conspiracy'. The NEC emphasised that notions of conspiracy, whether real or imagined, can have the effect of causing mistrust and disunity within an organisation, undermining objective and rational debate, and weakening democratic practice.

5.. The NEC also recognised that individual members may, from time to time, have practical experience of being treated unfairly - sometimes giving rise to perceptions of a conspiracy. In such instances, individuals have recourse to the structures of the movement or, if appropriate, the formal institutions of state.

6.. The NEC noted that tendencies towards factionalism have the effect of paralysing the movement, weakening it and rendering it susceptible to influences alien to the ANC. What requires serious consideration by all members is that rumour-mongering, whispering campaigns and conspiracy theories are devices that have historically been used by reactionary forces to disrupt and destroy progressive movements worldwide.

7.. In this regard, the meeting noted that e-mails purporting to originate among others from members of the NEC were being circulated among the media and the public. The NEC is convinced that none of its members is involved in these smear campaigns. We will ensure that investigations on the actual origins of these e-mails are completed without delay, and that those responsible are brought to book.

8.. The NEC unequivocally supports the institution and person of the President of ANC in carrying out duties mandated by Conference, including in The Presidency of government. The NEC recognises that activities aimed at undermining the President of the ANC in fact have the effect of undermining the ANC as a whole.

9.. The NEC reiterates its understanding and support for the decision taken by the President in response to the outcome of the Durban trial in which the Deputy President was implicated. The NEC fully supports the reasons given by the President in relieving the Deputy President of his responsibilities in government, as contained in his Speech in Parliament on 14 June 2005. The NEC also unequivocally supports the response of the Deputy President made on that occasion.

10.. The NEC reiterates its full support for the Deputy President in these trying times. We resolve that from now onwards, such support will be coordinated by the Office of the Secretary General. This important Office of our movement will work to ensure that our members and supporters act in a manner that protects and respects the dignity of the Deputy President and the ANC as a whole, as well as the due process of law. Such support derives from our confidence in the Deputy President as a cadre and leader of the movement and from our adherence to the principle of the presumption of innocence until and unless proven otherwise.

11.. The NEC further agreed that the task of defending the integrity and good name of ANC leaders against unfounded and malicious attacks is the collective responsibility of the movement.

The ANC will speak for itself

1.. The NEC noted that, in the recent period, some in the ranks of the movement have tended to rely on media reports regarding official ANC proceedings. In turn, sections of the media have increasingly relied on faceless individuals - so-called 'insiders' or 'outsiders', unnamed sources, professionals under retainer, and so on. The ANC and its leadership are capable of openly speaking for themselves. The NEC seriously cautions our members and society at large to depend on official pronouncements of the movement regarding its proceedings and decisions.

2.. The NEC recognised with all due seriousness that recent developments in the ANC, and the public coverage thereof, have been a cause of deep concern to many South Africans and our foreign friends and well-wishers, posing the danger of undermining confidence in the movement and our success in building a vibrant and new democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it, united in their diversity. Conscious of its responsibility in this regard, the NEC therefore undertook, through word and action, to reassure the South African people that their confidence in the ANC and a positive future for our country and people is indeed well-founded.

3.. The NEC reaffirmed its deep respect for the fact that the ANC exercises power by virtue of the enormous sacrifices that were made by our people and the international community to end apartheid and build a humane and inclusive society.

4.. Recognising the organisational weaknesses identified at the National General Council, the NEC agreed to embark on a programme to rebuild and strengthen the structures of the movement in order to inculcate dedication, commitment, unity, cohesion and discipline across the movement.

5.. The NEC also decided further to engage other matters that arose during its meeting. These include such issues as the further deepening of our democracy, improving our engagement with the masses of our people to respond to the prescript that the people shall govern, ensuring that our movement maintains its integrity as it interacts with all commercial formations, and ensuring that our members and movement properly understand that our movement occupies positions of power for the exclusive purpose of serving the people of South Africa, and not the exclusive interests of members and supporters of our movement.

6.. The NEC expressed its profound understanding and appreciation of the fact that the ANC is blessed to have a membership and millions of supporters who are firmly committed to work together to build a new society free of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, poverty and underdevelopment. It is therefore very confident that any difficulties our movement may be experiencing currently are transient and short-term. As happened when our movement faced other challenging moments in the past, during the years of oppressive rule, we shall overcome.

7.. The struggle for the construction of the South Africa of the dreams of our people continues. Victory is certain!

The ANC lives! The ANC leads!

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.