By Siboniso Mngadi
Durban – The ANC’s failure to pay its workers salaries and to register its candidates at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) could be the worst blunder in the party’s history that will haunt it for a long time.
These were some of the sentiments shared by political analysts on the ANC’s recent tale of woes.
While the current leadership, spearhead by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is committed to renewal and forging unity, the party is seemingly crumbling and addressing one scandal after another.
To make matters worse, the party told its staff members, the people who keep its engine ticking over, it was unable to pay monthly salaries, yet again.
In an internal letter sent out by the party’s general manager, Febe Potgieter, it stated that it was the first time salaries were delayed with three months payments still in arrears.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga attested that the party was surviving from one crisis to another, week-in week-out, adding that the branches were demoralised and in bad shape, while leaders were fighting in court.
He said the failures were an indication that the party was in disarray.
But Mathekga believed that the issues had nothing to do with Ramaphosa and his leadership, saying funding was the root cause.
He said the ANC strived on corruption and illegitimate donations, which has now become difficult since the passing of the Party Funding Act.
The act, which came into effect in April this year, requires disclosure from political parties about their donors and those who make donations to the IEC.
“The ANC has had a serious problem of corruption. Its reputation is not good, so some of the donors have turned against it.
There would have been donors who could lend financial support, and there are also controversial ones, but now they must be revealed, which has turned them away.
It is quite an unfamiliar environment for the ANC as the country’s transparency is increasing. The party is finding it difficult to take people’s money and use it for itself. Those tenders that used to fund ANC are no longer there. The anti-corruption war by Ramaphosa is the cause of the shaky ground the ANC now finds itself on,” he said.
Mathekga said they should get their house in order and find ways to raise money honestly and transparently.
The governing party has been experiencing cash flow challenges since December 2019, and the situation has worsened in recent months.
The party has not stated what has led it to endure dire financial constraints that have affected hundreds of employees based at their Joburg headquarters and in nine provinces and regions across the country.
It has also dealt with a series of protests by its members, stressing dissatisfaction over the candidate nomination processes and gatekeeping.
Scores of ANC supporters protested throughout the week outside Luthuli House and various provincial headquarters, expressing their dismay at how the ANC handled the nomination of candidates.
As if this was not enough, the party is also at risk of losing 35 municipalities uncontested after it failed to submit candidates names to the IEC before the deadline on Wednesday.
Jessie Duarte, ANC deputy secretary-general, said they had experienced glitches with the IEC’s online registration, which rejected the identity numbers of some of their candidates, most of them first-time candidates and voters.
The party has since approached the electoral court, asking it to force the IEC to accept those candidates who were excluded after her party “experienced glitches with the electoral body’s online system.
Another Political Analyst, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, from the University of the Western Cape, said the ANC woes were a combination of many factors, and its challenges appeared to be deeper.
He said, over the years, the party has been able to raise funds for salaries despite cash-flow challenges.
“The party needs serious self-introspection and contingency plans to turn things around. The party can not function with the disgruntled workforce. It is dangerous. People can do anything when they are not happy.
Missing out on the IEC deadline is the greatest challenge because the precedent has been set previously, where parties who failed to meet deadlines were not allowed to contest. In the 2016 local government election, the NFP was unable to contest in most areas. This has set a precedent that in the event that the party fail to meet the deadline set by the IEC, there is a very slim chance of that party succeeding in court. But of course, circumstances may differ,” he said.
Mngomezulu warned that should the electoral court rule against the ANC, there would be instabilities in municipalities as members would become disgruntled and turn against the leadership.
Another analyst, Thabani Khumalo, said it was unfortunate that while the party was already struggling to protect its powers find itself in a “mess”.
He said should the ANC fail to contest due to delay, it would have a knock-on effect for a long time.
“The party has not transformed from a liberation movement into a political party. The ANC should have developed a legitimate mechanism to raise funds and run professional administration.
It should not be a challenge to attract investors as a ruling party, but clearly, there is a problem with its leaders. This has led them into arguably the worst blunder in its existence. The party funding act cannot be used as an excuse because political parties should have revealed their funding a long time ago to run a transparent government,” said Khumalo.