ANC rally marred by in­ter­nal strife

Ri­vals al­legedly fight for coun­cil­lor posts ahead of elec­tions

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLA­BATHI and SE­TUMO STONE hlengiwe.nhla­bathi@city­; se­tumo.stone@city­

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has warned the ANC’s de­trac­tors to step aside and give the party space to gov­ern in terms of its elec­tion man­date. Zuma told the thou­sands at­tend­ing the party’s 104th an­niver­sary rally in Rusten­burg in North West that op­po­si­tion par­ties, the me­dia, com­men­ta­tors and an­a­lysts were at­tempt­ing to “di­vert le­git­i­mate demo­cratic out­comes” and in so do­ing, un­der­mine democ­racy.

In a veiled ref­er­ence to the DA and the EFF, Zuma said the gov­ern­ing party should not be ob­structed by dis­rup­tions of Par­lia­ment or “con­tin­u­ous court chal­lenges”.

Calling on cit­i­zens to de­fend democ­racy, Zuma said there should be “no spu­ri­ous at­tempts to cir­cum­vent the le­git­i­mate ex­er­cise of peo­ple’s power” by low-in­ten­sity “law-fare” and other means.

Zuma used the event, which tra­di­tion­ally sets out the ANC’s pri­or­i­ties for the year, to lay down the law on how the party should se­lect can­di­dates for the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, sched­uled for mid2016. He said only the names of those pop­u­lar among their com­mu­ni­ties should be put for­ward.

“We are not al­lowed to im­pose our own can­di­dates, be­cause we love them, on the com­mu­nity. The com­mu­nity must have a big­ger say be­cause, when we elect coun­cil­lors, we are not elect­ing them to lead the ANC branches, but to lead the com­mu­nity,” he said.

He told sup­port­ers who braved the swel­ter­ing heat at the Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium that the branches must let com­mu­ni­ties in­ter­ro­gate can­di­dates in open meet­ings.

De­spite Zuma’s pro­nounce­ment on Fri­day that win­ning the elec­tions was go­ing to be “a walk in the park for the ANC”, signs are that the gru­elling mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions cam­paign that awaits the party will be­gin with in­ter­nal bat­tles.

Even be­fore Zuma read his speech, the fight over who would get to be­come a coun­cil­lor can­di­date was al­ready brew­ing.

Ahead of the rally, the ANC’s al­lies, labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu and the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP), had stated that the rul­ing party should not al­low ANC pro­cesses to be cor­rupted again, as hap­pened in the 2011 lo­cal elec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to ANC in­sid­ers, there were early signs of pro­ce­dures be­ing ma­nip­u­lated to dis­pense pa­tron­age, re­sult­ing in po­ten­tially qual­i­fy­ing can­di­dates be­ing side­lined.

Fac­tions were try­ing to put them­selves at an ad­van­tage ahead of the 2017 elec­toral con­fer­ence by hand-pick­ing coun­cil­lors who would, in turn, be ex­pected to back cer­tain lead­ers next year.

City Press has learnt that while the ANC halted its coun­cil­lor se­lec­tion process last year, some struc­tures – par­tic­u­larly in Mpumalanga – had con­tin­ued with the process for­mally or in­for­mally.

The growth of the op­po­si­tion in the 2014 gen­eral elec­tions and the weak­en­ing of the ANC in key met­ros such as Jo­han­nes­burg, Tsh­wane and Nel­son Man­dela Bay sug­gested that fewer seats would be avail­able for as­pi­rant coun­cil­lors. This has in­ten­si­fied com­pe­ti­tion for places on the elec­tion list.

In Rusten­burg, con­flict be­tween fac­tions saw ANC mem­bers, who were sup­posed to drum up sup­port for the rally, re­sort to vi­o­lence this week.

But a bois­ter­ous Zuma said at the party’s gala din­ner on Fri­day that the ANC had “no sub­sti­tute”.

The SACP and Cosatu also weighed in on the coun­cil­lor is­sue, with Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini warn­ing the ANC not to force un­pop­u­lar coun­cil­lor can­di­dates on com­mu­ni­ties, as it would be dif­fi­cult for the al­liance to cam­paign for them.

SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande took a sim­i­lar tone.

Turn­ing to racism, Zuma said “a tiny mi­nor­ity” still “har­boured the de­sire for sep­a­rate ameni­ties and ... apartheid-era lead­ers. They do not rep­re­sent the true char­ac­ter of the new South Africa. They are liv­ing in the past.”

He re­it­er­ated gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to en­abling ac­cess to ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion for poor stu­dents, pledg­ing that, in ad­di­tion to the R2.6 bil­lion the gov­ern­ment had com­mit­ted af­ter the #FeesMustFall up­ris­ing, R2 bil­lion would be forth­com­ing in the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year.


AMANDLA! An artist per­forms for ANC Women’s League del­e­gates in Bloem­fontein at the party’s launch of a desk for young women

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