'Stop hurling insultS'

IN a bid to take control of the raging leadership succession debate in the ANC, the party's top brass has announced it will discipline party members who continue lobbing insults at each other and engaging in public spats.

This comes amid a mooted cabinet reshuffle after the party's national general congress in September in Durban.

Public spats and personal attacks on members of President Jacob Zuma's cabinet dominated the weekend meeting of the ANC national executive committee.

General secretary Gwede Mantashe told a post-NEC media briefing the ANC was dismayed "by the ease with which people just stand up on podiums and attack each other".

"The NEC noted with astonishment the disrespect shown by some leaders and structures of our movement to the decisions of the NEC, particularly those relating to the succession debate on our 2012 national conference.

"The NEC took exception to the new culture of public spats, trading of insults and personal attacks among its leaders.

"This detracts from the historic mission of the ANC, its discipline, traditions and protocols."

Mantashe also defended Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who has been under fire from the ANC Youth League and Cosatu.

Gordhan was on the receiving end of the ANCYL insults for allocating R340 million to the National Youth Development Agency instead of the R1 billion they wanted.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also criticised Gordhan's budget speech, saying he could have done more for the poor and working class.

Mantashe said the ANC was proud of Gordhan's work and supported his budget speech.

"Pravin Gordhan is a competent finance minister and we have all the confidence in him.

"Even if you talk of a cabinet reshuffle, I would be surprised if he were to be reshuffled.

"People must not be confused by group interests in society.

"Look at the good work the minister if doing in terms of working with other structures in government and society, taking us through a recession to a growth of 3,2 percent in the fourth quarter last year.

Mantashe said the ANC would not muzzle Julius Malema, the controversial leader of its youth wing.

"When the president says we will not muzzle Julius Malema, the perception is that public spats will continue. He said this was not the case.

Mantashe also defended Malema for singing the "Kill the boer" song.

"It's an old struggle song and anybody who relegates it to being racist today, I regard it as a serious attempt to erase our history."