A special ANC meeting to review the party’s poor state of affairs is long overdue, its deputy president, David Mabuza, told a meeting held by the national executive committee (NEC) on Saturday.
He said this after the governing party decided to defer the much-anticipated discussion on its poor performance in the local government elections.
Mabuza has been standing in for party president Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 last week.
City Press learnt that Mabuza told the NEC meeting that the party should go back to the drawing board regarding the local government elections, the allegations lodged against some members and the appeals, as this affected the ANC’s operations.
An ANC member said on Saturday:The deputy president was saying, let’s come back next year and have a proper discussion of the organisation. He says there needs to be a special meeting. The frank discussion will be about the integrity [of the party] and [its] ability to continue driving the national democratic revolution.
The meeting was also expected to receive a report on the polls from the party’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, but that was also deferred and will be dealt with at a much bigger lekgotla as a way to enrich the discussions.
At least two reports were received – one from Health Minister Joe Phaahla and another from treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.
The meeting also discussed preparations for the January 8 birthday celebrations, which will be held in Limpopo.
According to ongoing internal discussions, City Press learnt, the explosive elections report was likely to touch on issues of possible economic sabotage that undermined the governing party’s performance in the November 1 municipal polls.
An NEC member said:The electricity blackout thing keeps coming up at every level – from branches, regions and provinces, so it is definitely something that we are looking into.
Another insider said a forensic report in January had flagged the issue of the rolling blackouts, but Eskom had seemingly ignored it.
The source said Eskom employees and suppliers were implicated, adding that an attack on strategic infrastructure was bound to lead to disgruntlement across society and, consequently, a loss of confidence in the ANC.
The person compared the sabotage to the same tactics the ANC had used during the fight to undermine the apartheid regime.
A second factor flagged was the road blockade on the N3 in Mooi River during the July unrest, which affected access and operations at the port in Durban.
Blockades were experienced across the country after the unrest as part of the truck drivers’ strike against the employment of foreign nationals in the industry.
The impact of the “systematic dismantling of rail infrastructure” also caught the ANC’s attention, “particularly the fact that heavy machinery was required to dismantle railway lines and to smelt the steel”.
The “premature” announcement of the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 by local scientists, which had a ripple effect across the globe, resulting in travel bans being imposed on South Africa and other countries in the region, was also seen as part of the ongoing efforts to undermine the ANC.
January 8 celebrations
Despite the ANC’s financial and organisational woes, the party’s highest decision-making body will be going ahead with celebrating its birthday on January 8.
In the meeting, NEC member Barbara Creecy presented a draft of the speech that will be delivered by Ramaphosa next month in Limpopo.
The speech was welcomed by most members.
Amendments to the speech included suggestions to recognise the role of anti-apartheid activist Thomas Nkobi, who holds the record of being the longest-serving ANC secretary-general. Nkobi, who suffered a fatal stroke in 1994, would have turned 100 next year.
The NEC also wanted the party to pay tribute to the 45 people who were killed in the Boipatong massacre in 1992, in one of the bloodiest and most brutal moments in South Africa in the decade from 1984.
Armed IFP members attacked locals in Boipatong, Vanderbijlpark, in an attempt to undermine the negotiations between the National Party and the ANC.
IFP sold out
The failure to form coalitions in hung councils in KwaZulu-Natal last month was a sore point for the NEC after the IFP reneged on its commitment to support the governing party where it held more seats in the province.
City Press learnt that the ANC was planning to settle scores by proposing motions of no confidence in the uMvoti and Mthonjaneni local municipalities.
However, the ANC said it hoped to regain power in the Newcastle and Alfred Duma local municipalities.
The minutes of a national working committee meeting said: The province is assessing the balance of forces. [There is a] possibility of change.
NEC members were also disgruntled about the IFP’s decision to work with other parties in Gauteng.
Provincial secretary Jacob Khawe told City Press that the party had learnt a major lesson from this: “Gauteng was disappointed about how the IFP dealt with [City of] Joburg and Mogale City by accepting the mayoral positions.
“We have ourselves to blame. We should not rely on other political parties, we should sort out our issues.
“We need to be an opposition [party] with [clear] intentions; let us not oppose a budget even if it is a good budget,” Khawe said.
“The IFP disappointed us in Merafong, but, in Ekurhuleni, we are in section 79 committees and appointed to the chair of the committees of oversight.
“So, we have taken a stance that our opposition must be dynamic,” said Khawe.
The NEC also discussed the possibility of a better approach to forming coalitions, coupled with the overall anger over other smaller parties such as the United Democratic Movement, the Congress of the People and the EFF, which abandoned the ANC to work with either the DA or the IFP.
‘ANC STILL DOMINANT’
In its statement after the NEC meeting yesterday, the ANC celebrated the party’s continued dominance of the political landscape.
The NEC statement read:Despite a substantial decline in support and the low voter turnout during last month’s municipal polls, the ANC remains the largest party in South Africa.
To ensure political and administrative stability in the affected councils, the NEC approved the establishment of a structure to oversee and resolve any disputes arising from coalitions and cooperation agreements.
An NEC member said this move was born out of “objective facts”, since the ANC governed 167 of the country’s 278 municipalities.
The ANC and the DA won the most wards, but the proportional representation formula used to constitute councils favoured smaller parties, which resulted in the ANC losing power in some municipalities.
Asked if the emphasis on its dominance smacked of arrogance, ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala said the party did admit to its mistakes and would humble itself to the society.
Zikalala said the party lost support because it failed to deliver services, as unsuitable people were appointed to key municipal positions. He said the league was forging ahead with its plans to champion the renewal of the ANC, “which will see the best of the best selected for positions from the branch to the national level”.
“The ANC is currently managed by careerists and not revolutionaries,” Zikalala said, adding that the new initiative to interview mayoral candidates “exposed a lot of candidates who had no knowledge of the value and principles of the ANC”.