Keep the lob­by­ing peace­ful

CityPress - - Voices -

The fight for the lead­er­ship of the ANC is get­ting more in­tense by the day. For the first time in decades, there are about eight women and men who deem them­selves qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent of the ANC. The num­ber of can­di­dates at­tests to the party’s trou­bles and the loss of pres­tige of the top job since Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma took the reins. That most of the can­di­dates are cam­paign­ing on a ticket to “save” the ANC speaks vol­umes about his decade-long lead­er­ship.

What is also dif­fer­ent with this race, com­pared with the one five years ago – when then deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe re­fused to be drawn into an open race and cam­paign­ing – is the lack of self-ef­fac­ing coy­ness in the can­di­dates’ in­ten­tions. They are all unashamedly cam­paign­ing US style, punt­ing them­selves as the one best suited to lead.

How the ANC con­ducts its business is the ANC’s business. But a wor­ry­ing pat­tern has al­ready be­gun to as­sert it­self in KwaZulu-Na­tal, where po­lit­i­cal killings are be­com­ing the norm.

For­mer ANC Youth League sec­re­tary Sindiso Ma­gaqa, who was buried yes­ter­day, is one of the more prom­i­nent vic­tims of these killings.

Al­though the po­lice are yet to ar­rest his killers, his fam­ily and friends main­tain that his mur­der was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated be­cause he and two other ANC mem­bers – all three of them ward coun­cil­lors – were shot in a sus­pected am­bush as they were re­turn­ing from a party meet­ing.

The con­test for lead­er­ship is tear­ing the ANC mem­ber­ship apart, with many in­creas­ingly choos­ing sides. And, with the courts hav­ing now be­come the plat­form for these fac­tions to fight out their bat­tles, the party lead­er­ship has been ex­posed for its fail­ure to main­tain con­trol and dis­ci­pline.

There is a grave dan­ger that, as fac­tions try to cre­ate strongholds and im­pose their can­di­dates, vi­o­lence may be the re­sult. It may be pru­dent for all the can­di­dates to send a clear mes­sage to their fol­low­ers that tol­er­ance should be the hall­mark of their cam­paigns.

Every week brings the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence that much closer, and the ten­sion build-up is pal­pa­ble. We see it in the al­le­ga­tions that are crop­ping up ev­ery­where of dirty tricks, and of con­fer­ences and mem­ber­ship num­bers be­ing rigged.

For now, these are in­ter­nal ANC con­tra­dic­tions. But if not care­fully mon­i­tored, they could spill over to af­fect the rest of so­ci­ety in re­gret­table ways.

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