‘Make it stop’

Dis­ap­pointed stal­warts want to be­come the ANC’s ears to save the move­ment from fur­ther de­cline

CityPress - - News -

Tiny black, green and gold flags of the on­ce­glo­ri­ous lib­er­a­tion move­ment dan­gle in her ears as Cheryl Caro­lus speaks with sad­ness and with­out pause about the need to save the cri­sis-stricken ANC. For the 57-year-old Cape Town-born strug­gle vet­eran, the ANC needs sav­ing from the clutches of its failed lead­er­ship, who have watched the party un­der Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma limp from one cri­sis to the next.

It’s a dif­fi­cult time for the gov­ern­ing party, which is now seen by its el­ders as a shadow of its for­mer self. The party’s for­mer deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral is step­ping up with other stal­warts as com­mit­ted cadres to save it as it rapidly sinks into a pit.

For Caro­lus, it’s been an ex­haust­ing and emo­tion­ally tax­ing week af­ter a string of meet­ings and pub­lic events, dur­ing which she fol­lowed the same line – voic­ing un­hap­pi­ness about de­vel­op­ments in the ANC she loves.

Zuma finds himself sub­ject to an in­quiry – that he has been or­dered to set up – over his po­ten­tial un­eth­i­cal con­duct re­gard­ing his as­so­ci­a­tion with the Gupta fam­ily.

It is a day af­ter the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s State of Cap­ture re­port was re­leased, and Caro­lus is clear about what the ANC na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee must do when it meets to­mor­row: “They must avoid the mis­take of Nkandla and sub­ject the pres­i­dent to the in­tegrity com­mit­tee.”

This week’s launch of the Save SA cam­paign, which Caro­lus is part of, was no mini-re­union of old friends.

The petite Caro­lus looks far younger than her 57 years. Her grav­elly and mil­i­tant voice is not loud enough for some of the grey-haired ANC el­ders gath­ered at Thurs­day’s press con­fer­ence at St Ge­orge’s Angli­can Church in Park­town to hear.

In the church’s lush green gar­den, Caro­lus asks: “Why don’t you speak to the oth­ers...” – as if beg­ging for a re­prieve. My in­sis­tence prompts a cu­ri­ous but hum­ble “Why me?” be­fore she gives in.

Caro­lus says they were there to ex­press their dis­ap­point­ment at the di­rec­tion the ANC was tak­ing, a day af­ter the re­lease of Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port, which has left Zuma’s fu­ture un­cer­tain.

They want the party to give them a chance to start a lis­ten­ing cam­paign, sim­i­lar to one she and other stal­warts un­der­took be­fore 1994, when they sought views from peo­ple on what to ne­go­ti­ate for in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“With hu­mil­ity, the lead­er­ship trav­elled the length and breadth and lis­tened with re­spect. The Con­sti­tu­tion is a hum­ble doc­u­ment that speaks to the needs of our peo­ple. To­day, our lead­ers say we must dis­cuss things be­hind closed doors. This is counter to what the ANC stood for,” she says.

Caro­lus and party el­ders – in­clud­ing Rivo­nia Tri­al­ists Ahmed Kathrada and An­drew Mlan­geni, as well as Frank Chikane – want to take over the lis­ten­ing cam­paign be­cause they don’t trust the ANC any more.

“Ev­ery time they go to our peo­ple, they don’t lis­ten to the lead­er­ship, they scold them,” she says.

Caro­lus and the el­ders have en­dorsed the Save SA cam­paign, which staged a march in Pre­to­ria, de­mand­ing an end to cor­rup­tion un­der Zuma’s lead­er­ship.

“The na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee must also sub­ject Zuma to the in­tegrity com­mit­tee. We wait as mem­bers. This presents them with a real mo­ment and an op­por­tu­nity to act in ac­cor­dance with the ANC’s own con­sti­tu­tion and poli­cies,” she says.

She laughs out loud af­ter be­ing asked what she does out­side of the world of pol­i­tics. She cooks, runs and goes out in the wild to re­lax in her lim­ited free time.

“I read books, cook – oh I love cook­ing for fam­ily and friends, but I’m not the kind of per­son you should ex­pect to cook for you each and ev­ery night,” she gig­gles.

“I love clas­si­cal mu­sic and jazz, and I run. Oh, maybe a big thing I do – I love na­ture. I’m quite a green ac­tivist. I love spend­ing time in nat­u­ral beauty, so we do lots of hik­ing and walk­ing in the moun­tains.”

Caro­lus is a com­mit­tee mem­ber of the World Wildlife Fund.

She has a day job as an ex­ec­u­tive at a com­pany, work­ing with three other women she refers to as “fel­low trav­ellers”.

Two thirds of the money they make gets ring-fenced into a trust and in­vested in fix­ing pub­lic schools, work­ing with govern­ment and dis­tricts – as part of an ini­tia­tive in partnership with Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s Adopt-A-School Foun­da­tion.

The lit­tle good that does get done in the world is per­haps what en­cour­ages her to speak out and act against the wrongs in so­ci­ety.

Like many in the coun­try, she and the more than 100 stal­warts who wrote an open let­ter ask­ing for a meet­ing with Zuma, whom they ac­cuse of bring­ing the party into dis­re­pute, have had enough of the wrongs in the ANC and are ready for this im­por­tant task.

Caro­lus says those who died in the strug­gle “must be turn­ing in their graves” af­ter the ANC lost key met­ros such as Nel­son Man­dela Bay in Au­gust’s lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions due to the ANC’s ar­ro­gance.

“There are lots of us who are do­ing good and a few who are cap­tur­ing our coun­try. I owe it to the good men and women in the county to make it stop,” she says.

PHOTO: SI­FISO JIMTA

STEP­PING UP Cheryl Caro­lus at the 101 stal­warts press con­fer­ence at St Ge­orge’s Angli­can Church Sakumzi the clown

Jonas Mu­la­muleli holds an anti-Zuma poster

Mandla Ngubane

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