ANC national executive committee member Senzo Mchunu has admitted that corruption and decay stand at the centre of the party’s marked decline in the recent local government elections.
Speaking about the party’s election results, just over a week after the final announcement was made that the ANC had, for the first time since the first democratic elections in 1994, fallen under the 50% mark, Mchunu said the poor results were expected in light of low service delivery rates and the deteriorating economy, which has led to high unemployment rates in South Africa.
“One [issue the ANC faces is] corruption. In our surveys, we have been told that people are complaining about corruption. This does not come from [ANC president] Cyril Ramaphosa, but from the people. They say the ANC is suffering from favouritism and they are able to point to examples. In other words, decay is settling into the ANC in the form of corruption,” Mchunu told City Press this week.Corruption is a big animal. It attacks those whose hands are closer to the till. It is a virus that attacks their hands, but first it attacks their brains and then they start budgeting for their stomachs and those of their family and friends.
The ANC won 161 municipalities out of the 213 that were being contested nationwide.
In its eThekwini stronghold in KwaZulu-Natal, the party was the biggest loser as it dropped to 42.04%, compared with the 56.01% it managed to garner in 2016. Its overall performance in KwaZulu-Natal dropped by more than 10%.
The ANC’s attempt to win back the City of Tshwane with a majority was also unsuccessful, with the vote being further split and smaller parties coming into the fray. Despite its move to host the party’s manifesto launch in the capital city, ANC support plummeted from 43.15% in 2016 to 34.63% on November 1.
Mchunu said the state of the economy was linked to electricity supply and the high level of unemployment, which resulted in many voters not wanting to support the governing party.
“Poor results aside, we hardly could not have expected this in a number of areas because you get to a place and you ask yourself why we have not delivered… You find that in most cases there is no justifiable reason. We should have done better than we have done, whether in water or housing.”
“People cannot support you when they are increasingly unemployed, because that soon results in hunger and poverty,” he said.
POOR QUALITY OF ANC MEMBERSHIP
Speaking about the quality of membership in the party, Mchunu lamented that even those who served alongside former party presidents and liberation heroes Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela were responsible for the downward spiral of the ANC.
“We need to, across the board, admit that there are wrong things that have set in, right until national leadership.
“These are the things that have affected us in terms of doing our duties and ensuring that we have a fresh mandate that keeps on renewing us.
“It is not only about the so-called new people who have joined the ANC. Some of the people who have been a letdown joined the ANC a long time ago.
“Some who were with OR Tambo in that leadership have proved to be as problematic as those who came later.People will say that they served with Tambo, but they have nothing to show for it. The state of the organisation now has something to do with the kind of people in the ANC who are pulling the party elsewhere besides where it is supposed to go.
Despite serving as a minister himself, Mchunu said there was a detachment that party members have with the people on the ground. Government comes with less commitment to an extent:During the struggle, when you are operating outside of government, all of you and leadership are with the people all the time and articulating what you will do when you are in government.
“[But] when you get to government, you spend more time away from the people on the ground. You are now wearing a suit and you are going overseas and slowly, unintentionally, unaware, you get detached.
“There is also a feeling that when people see you passing, they think you are not necessarily at work because you are not on the ground.”
STRUCTURES DISINTEGRATE WITHOUT ELECTIVE CONFERENCES
Mchunu reckoned that there should be a clear plan to organise the party’s structures, which have been neglected since the Covid-19 pandemic. He believed this was just one of the ways they could take stock of what has been happening in its ranks.
The ANC has not managed to hold its conferences to renew its leadership in the past year due to a number of factors Mchunu mentioned to City Press.
The party stopped some of its activities due to the 2019 national elections, he said, adding that this halted renewal.
Only the Northern Cape managed to hold its conference amid the pandemic earlier this year.
“The organisation is in a less-than-viable state. We have largely been disturbed by Covid-19. We are intending to go back and start from our branches and complete the new membership system that is not completely functional, review its impact and then revise structures on the ground.
“It is going to be a long process because most provinces will be running out of their currency and they need to be revived. Therefore we have a less-than-good state of an organisation to a very weak organisation on the ground, to some point where branches are non-existent. Some people have been in office since 2015/16,” he said.