The Star Early Edition
‘Time to close ranks and fight real enemy’
THE JOSTLING for councillors’ jobs in various communities may lead to internal ANC strife and factions before the local government elections.
The ANC and its alliance partners struck a conciliatory tone at its 104-year celebrations at the weekend, but the party is expecting tension in some areas as local leaders seek to hold on to their positions.
The issue of ward redemarcations, which will see the redrawing of some municipal boundaries, may result in some positions being threatened and patronage networks disrupted.
Speaking to The Star, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe admitted the party was trying to manage the potential disruptions as, in some cases, personal interests would take priority.
“I’m in Ward 34 in Ekurhuleni, and after the elections this year I will shift to Ward 42. All I should do is work as hard as I did in Ward 34.
“But the question of personal interests is an issue of the political consciousness of an individual. An individual must accept that because of redemarcation, I may not be a councillor again,” said Mantashe.
“We are managing it, but we are not managing it in a way that will suit certain individual interests. We are managing it so that we may run a proper elec- tion, and so that we may contest these elections from a solid base,” Mantashe said.
At the ruling party’s rally on Saturday, the ANC, Cosatu and SACP leaders pleaded for unity before the local elections, committing to campaign to ensure a decisive victory for the ANC.
But Mantashe has conceded that with elections coming and the list process for electing local candidates about to take place, the battles lines would be drawn for personal interests.
Mantashe said the ruling party took every election seriously and the upcoming elections would be no exception.
“Winning the election is the function of hard work and not a function of wishful thinking,” he added.
Another powder keg for the alliance is the ruling party’s succession race, which has begun in earnest, pitting the premiers of Mpumalanga, Free State and North West against some Cosatu and SACP leaders.
The leadership race has created factions in the alliance that are already at each other’s throats as each faction tries to endear itself to ANC structures before the elections.
“The message that we must pass on to our people is that when they get into factions, they are doing that at the expense of the organisation first, and at the expense of communities. People want to be councillors for the wrong reasons. You must be a councillor because you want to serve the community,” Mantashe said.
He said this was the time for “the politics of the stomach” in communities such as Madibeng in North West where people went to ANC meetings to assault one another, fighting for councillor positions.
Cosatu and the SACP at the weekend urged the alliance to close ranks and fight the “real enemy” together before the local elections.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini told the rally that the trade union federation would move from ward to ward to campaign for the ANC to give people hope.
SACP boss Blade Nzimande launched a scathing attack on critics who have said the time for the tripartite alliance was up.
He said: “Any of us who think time for the alliance is up is denting our revolution.”
But he did not mince his words as he called for the ruling party not to be distracted by factions.
He also pleaded with the ANC not to allow any of its structures to impose councillor candidates on communities as this would make it difficult for the SACP to campaign for such candidates.