time to steady ship, captain jz

THERE is an urgent need for the ANC to stick to its traditions despite the whirlwinds blowing within the ruling alliance, threatening to hijack the agenda of the so-called "movement of the people".

For its own survival and for the general wellbeing of the millions whose future aspirations depend on the maturity of the ANC and the ability of its government to create work opportunities, Luthuli House must stand its ground and not be dragooned into pursuing a socialist agenda at all costs.

Two enemies are threatening to engulf the ANC: corruption in all spheres of government and the influence of the ANC alliance partners on the organisation and its president.

Note that although the Democratic Alliance has wrested control of Western Cape from the ANC, the party is still no threat to the ANC's political dominance.

President Jacob Zuma must use this week's January 8 statement to lead the ANC away from a culture of self-enrichment and looting of the state to a culture defined by the founding values of the ANC.

These include a culture of selflessness among ANC cadres and the famous OR Tambo instruction of every cadre being an agent of change wherever they reside.

Although the ANC's 2007 conference resolved to discourage ANC cadres from publicly displaying their wealth and new acquisitions like flashy cars, it will take determination from Luthuli House to reclaim the ANC from its capitalist cadres.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe - probably the most hard working secretary since 1994 - is already under fire from those threatened by his agenda to restore ANC values and cap the unparalleled looting of state resources that we witnessed in the past decade.

The ANC youth is campaigning for former ANC Youth League president Fikile Mbalula to replace him in 2012.

Mantashe's vision includes limiting the number of times ANC fat cats benefit from major government tenders, bringing to an end people who have made careers out of being tender chasers.

Mantashe has introduced an assessment programme for ANC councillors, which is designed to get rid of the laggards in local government.

The ambitious secretary is also unpopular for threatening to strip the already illegal powers of mayors to influence the allocation of tenders and ensuring friends, nephews and girlfriends are appointed to government jobs.

He is destined to lose friends and allies with his intimation of a closer scrutiny on how the ANC deploys its cadres to government positions.

This is to avoid the deployment of incompetent cadres to strategic jobs, especially in the municipal service.

These days Mantashe hardly ends a media briefing without bemoaning the appointment of unskilled or ill-skilled party hacks into top jobs.

During a public lecture at the Tshwane University of Technology last October, Mantashe said: "We must refuse to accept that getting elected to a position either in the government or in the movement must create an opportunity for wealth accumulation."

He vowed to use his tenure in office to force a councillor to choose between serving the nation and being in business.

"Some appear to be interested only in enriching themselves instead of doing what they have been elected for, namely, among others, to ensure service delivery."

This year, the ANC boss is expected to drive an ANC political school to teach new recruits about the original values of the ANC.

Mantashe's efforts, especially if he gets Zuma's backing, will not only save the ANC from itself but will improve the delivery of key basic services to those who need them most.

But Mantashe is also not the right man to help the ANC resist the influence of Cosatu and the SACP, because he is also the chairman of the SACP.

His detractors are using his affiliation to the SACP to discredit his good intentions as another ploy by the communists to take over the ANC.

If we all accept that the weakness and fragmented state of the opposition means that our destiny is joined at the hip with that of the ANC, the stability of the ANC is a matter that should not be left only to the ANC but should concern all of us.

For the sake of our democracy, President Zuma should do more to improve stability in the ANC.

This weekend's January 8 statement, to be delivered in Kimberley, offers Zuma the platform to call on ANC die-hards to reclaim the party.