The ANC wants ordinary South Africans to help select ruling-party candidates for national, provincial and municipal legislatures, and says its own MPs must ask their cabinet colleagues tough questions.

These drastic proposals were contained in a paper presented by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at the ANC national executive committee lekgotla – an expanded meeting – last weekend.

“The 52nd national conferences instructed the current NEC to strengthen the guidelines and processes of selecting public representatives … Serious efforts were made to comply with the content of this resolution in 2009 list processes.

“We must, however, develop a comprehensive framework for involving broader society in the selection of ANC candidates. This can be implemented in the run-up to the 2011 local government elections. ANC structures must take charge of this process to ensure that members of the ANC select their own candidates, but test the popularity of these candidates in the community as part of mobilising support for them. We must accept that nominating very unpopular candidates, who are members of the ANC, has cost us a number of by-elections …

“Going with this approach is populism replacing competence,” Mr Mantashe said.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has previously warned the ANC against fielding drunks, citing a by-election in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, where an ANC candidate lost to Cope because the candidate was not popular.

Meanwhile, Mantashe has challenged ANC MPs not to ask sweetheart questions in Parliament.
“Difficult questions to ministers and MECs should, in the main, come from the ANC benches with the intention of helping ANC deployees to perform better.

The attitude that it is a sell-out position for ANC public representatives to raise these questions is dangerous to our movement,” Mr Mantashe said.

He said this would give the public a chance to understand the workings of democracy.

“Many of the sessions in Parliament … are broadcast live, thus communicating to the broader society. This is one of the reasons that the ANC public representatives must take them seriously. Every opportunity to communicate with our people must be used optimally,” Mr Mantashe said.

Source: SATURDAY STAR ONLINE, 20100123

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