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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday urged ANC branch members to reclaim the space now occupied by civil society and opposition parties and lead the struggle against corruption and state capture.

Ramaphosa and other ANC leaders, including Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, have been spending most of their weekends crisscrossing the country addressing cadre forums, memorial lectures and other events, including Women’s Day events this month, as they garner support for their presidential ambitions.

Delivering a lecture on the late ANC icon Oliver Tambo in Braamfischer in Soweto yesterday, presidential hopeful Ramaphosa said “branches need to be leading the way in restoring the values and affirming the integrity of the movement”.

Rebuilding the ANC

The fight against state capture and corruption has been led mainly by civil society movements and opposition parties who have staged several mass protests countrywide in a bid to force President Jacob Zuma to resign. The ANC has dismissed the external criticism, saying that it was driven by racism and a hidden regime change agenda to topple the party.

“Many of the challenges we face today do not come from the membership or branches. Most of them come from the leadership and where there is failure of leadership the branches need to lead,” he told a hall full of ANC members and supporters from the surrounding townships of Mzimhlope, Dobsonville, Protea, Braamfischer, Snake Park and Tshepisong. The areas constitute zone 7 of the party’s Johannesburg region.

Gauteng ANC secretary Hope Papo and Johannesburg regional secretary Dada Morero were among those who accompanied Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said the ANC should at every level, from branches to the top leadership, seek to rebuild the relationship between the party and the people on the ground. “We need to be drawing people towards us and not driving them away. We need to listen to people’s concerns, not dismiss them,” he said.

“We need to listen to our critics, accept where they are right, engage them and seek to win them over. We must seek to unite and we must seek to be inclusive.”

“The ANC cannot be stubborn and hard-headed. Our people are smart and when they see something wrong, it means it is wrong. When they see that our resources are being stolen they are not wrong,” said Ramaphosa.

In Parys, Free State, News24 reported that Dlamini-Zuma cautioned against using mistakes made in the party to turn against the party, in reference to ANC MPs supporting an opposition motion. “No matter what, we cannot be so angry with the ANC that we walk away from it,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

The presidential hopeful admitted that there were difficulties in the movement but said they were nothing new. “Mistakes will always be made. No person can say they have not made mistakes. The question is how we deal with these mistakes,” she said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in KwaZulu-Natal where he gave an address on “economic transformation at this stage of the national democratic revolution”, presidential hopeful and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said MPs who voted with the opposition in the motion of no confidence must out themselves.

Leaders in the Umdoni area on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal – where Radebe once served as chairperson – said once the ANC officially opens nominations for the presidency, they would throw their weight behind their former chairperson.

Though not formally accepting the nomination, Radebe said he had never shied away from a deployment, “whether big or small”.

On the motion of no confidence which was debated in the National Assembly this week and voted for via secret ballot, Radebe said it was concerning that some within the ANC had broken ranks and voted with opposition parties.

“It is very difficult to know who did it, of course, because the Speaker decided on a secret ballot, so I will not want to encourage a sort of witch-hunt to establish that, but those who have done so should have the courage of their convictions to say so,” he said.

“It is concerning. I don’t have the exact figures of ANC MPs who were present in Parliament that day, but the ANC’s position, which was endorsed by the NEC [national executive committee], is very clear. You can never vote for other political parties, especially on a matter where they sought to actually topple the government of the ANC. I myself can never associate with such an initiative,” he said.

On whether or not those MPs should resign, Radebe said he could not comment given his position as chairperson of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee (NDC). “I can just state a general principle that as a loyal member of the ANC being sent to Parliament by the ANC, I cannot, for the life of me, even imagine how I can join forces with the DA to topple my own government.

“That section under which the vote of no confidence was moved by the DA, if that motion had succeeded, it would have meant that the president and the entire Cabinet would have had to resign; that would have been the implication. But as I said, as the chair of the NDC I cannot proffer an opinion.”

He confirmed that, at this stage, no cases regarding the motion of no confidence had been brought before the disciplinary committee.