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ANC manifesto launch: Ramaphosa admits mistakes, says party will do better

ANC manifesto launch: Ramaphosa admits mistakes, says party will do better
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses members of the ANC during the launch of the party manifesto at Church Square in Tshwane on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a list of the ANC’s failures and promises at the party’s Monday evening manifesto launch, where getting out of the house to be with many other people was a massive highlight.

Moving into the central square of a city being failed by the administration of the day is pretty much the kind of thing the DA would do, but the ANC pulled similar moves by organising its first big bash in over 20 months in Pretoria’s Church Square on Monday.

This was to launch the party’s manifesto ahead of the 1 November election, or the “real manifesto” as ANC Youth League interim leader Nonceba Mahlauli said in her speech, after the EFF and the DA had launched theirs over the weekend. 

In 2016 a governing coalition led by the DA took over the city when voters deserted the ANC in their droves because of unhappiness with former president Jacob Zuma’s leadership and the large-scale corruption that took place under his watch. 

Residents of Tshwane have since been reporting hardships similar to those in ANC-led municipalities, such as electricity outages, water cuts, a lack of rubbish removal, potholed roads, overflowing sewage and informal settlements that have not been upgraded.

“We understand that you were disappointed with the ANC,” Ramaphosa told the not-too-large, safely spaced-out crowd, “discouraged by our shortcomings and angry about allegations of State Capture and corruption.” 

Voting for the opposition had, however, “caused great hardship for the residents of Tshwane,” he said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa dancing at the launch of the ANC manifesto in Tshwane on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

ANC members listening to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC manifesto launch on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

ANC members singing at Church Square in Tshwane during the ANC manifesto launch on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Not all hardship comes from the opposition. It was most likely not the opposition who recently killed Tshepo Motaung, Mabopane councillor and an ANC candidate in the forthcoming elections. The opposition could also not be blamed for setting buses alight and causing parts of the city to shut down five years ago as unhappiness within the ANC about candidate selection spilled over into violence in the weeks before the local government elections. 

Fortunately for the ANC the Tshwane Metro has been getting bad press lately, among others issues over terrorising a man, dubbed the Cabbage Bandit, who tried to cultivate vegetables on his pavement for the hungry to eat.

“We will ensure the unrestricted development of urban and pavement gardens where crops can be planted to increase food security,” Ramaphosa promised. 

The statue of Paul Kruger was fenced off, leaving him socially distanced and looking on as the crowd, wearing yellow T-shirts and waving flags with an election slogan, “building better communities”, and Ramaphosa’s face on them, clapped politely when Ramaphosa made a good point. 

Even when he said: “We stand here to admit that we have made mistakes. We have not always put the best people with responsibility in government,” there was polite applause. 

There wasn’t reference to the historical significance of the square, or to the Palace of Justice where the Rivonia Trial was conducted. 

But the litany of admissions continued. “Too often, we have been slow to act when our public representatives and leaders committed wrongdoing, when they abused their position or failed in implementing the mandate that you gave them,” Ramaphosa said. 

But he added that, since the 2019 elections when the ANC won the general elections after promises that it would renew and rebuild, the party had been fighting to restore itself “and remove the obstacles to progress towards a better South Africa”. 

 “We have made important advances, but there is much more we need to do,” said the president.

Gwede Mantashe speaking to members of the ANC during the launch of the party manifesto on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Blade Nzimande addresses the crowd during the launch of the ANC manifesto on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Former president Thabo Mbeki at Church Square in Tshwane for the ANC manifesto launch on 27 September 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

While it is convenient to use the failure of other parties to highlight your own and to promise improvements, Ramaphosa is likely to be acutely aware that the ANC needs to get the metros back from the DA before voters become as cosy with the opposition as it had been in the City of Cape Town Metro for the past 15 years. 

At least one of the people looking on from outside the fence that enclosed the area to limit the numbers in line with Covid-19 regulations said he voted DA in the 2019 elections but would return to the ANC this year because his family convinced him to return to the governing party. His brothers live in Hazyview, which he admitted has been badly run by the ANC. “We must give the party a chance to fix its mistakes,” the man said. 

Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe also graced the proceedings, and got to sit in the big chairs in front with the party’s top five, while their successor, Jacob Zuma, was conspicuous by his absence. Ramaphosa wished Zuma a speedy recovery after his recent release from prison on medical parole, to loud applause. Of suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who wasn’t on stage, no mention was made. 

Following his speech, Ramaphosa asked a couple of party officers to collect the handwritten posters from those in the audience who held them throughout his speech. One was written on the back of an ActionSA poster. All appeared to be complaints about the current DA administration, and ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe, who was in high spirits, urged protesters to vote out the current administration. 

The buildings surrounding the square didn’t quite echo Ramaphosa’s “vivas” and “amandlas” in the same way an 80,000-seater stadium would, but party Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile must have been satisfied that it had cost less, with the party’s funding reportedly still in the red. So bad are things that the T-shirt distributors refused to give these to people looking on from outside the fence, because there were not enough T-shirts. 

Ramaphosa said the manifesto was the ANC’s “plan and our solemn pledge for the next five years”. He said the ANC pledged “that we will do better”. 

He also admitted: “We have not always done the best we were meant to do.” 

If not exactly upbeat, at least parts of this manifesto are honest. DM

[hearken id=”daily-maverick/8706″]

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Patrick O'Shea says:

    Rinse and repeat.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    Please, please, please give us another chance! This time we promise to change, to do better. We let you down for the last 27 years, but we have changed. Trust us.
    What does that remind us of?

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    “We have not always done the best we were meant to do.” understatement of the year but you’re fine Cyril, the electorate is stupid enough to elect ANC, looters and all, again.

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    Since DM failed to mention some of the reasons for the issues facing Tshwane, let me help out by quoting from The Conversations article “Turmoil in South Africa’s capital city points to the need to overhaul local democracy”
    “The DA and the EFF agreed to enter into a coalition arrangement when the EFF won 11.63% of the vote in the city in 2016. The DA-led coalition governed with 45.87% of the total votes of council. This translated into a total of 99 seats. In the opposition benches, the ANC held 89 seats.

    The DA-led coalition was vulnerable to the EFF’s political capriciousness as the kingmaker. In addition, their ideological differences meant that the two parties made the most unlikely partners from the start.

    Things turned sour when the DA refused to support the EFF’s radical land policy in the country’s national parliament. As a result the EFF decided to oust DA mayors in metropolitan councils that had secured their positions through coalition arrangements.
    This was hardly a year after the parties had established their pact.
    The ANC exploited the fallout and the political wrangling became inordinately protracted. The ANC and the EFF frequently staged walkouts or stayed away from council meetings, robbing them of quorums. This led to the council collapsing. Because of this, important decisions on the running of the city’s affairs could not be taken.
    Numerous blunders of its own, especially leadership indiscretions in the municipality, added to the DA’s woes.”

    • Stephen T says:

      I was on the receiving end of the farce that was the ANC “administration” of Tshwane. It may have been precipitated by EFF shenanigans but it was certainly followed up by the all-too-familiar catastrophic incompetence from the African National Circus. They are despicable.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Are South Africans really that naive. I don’t believe so. He had over three years to change things around. Yet under his government theft from the poor (PPE – corruption) reached unprecedented heights.

  • Jacques Wessels says:

    The job for all thinking citizens is to one vote, two convince at least one especially ill informed voter to vote for the opposition. The only way to raise the level of accountability iro of who the ruling party might be.

  • Robert Morgan says:

    The unmitigated, barefaced gall of these shysters is breathtaking. How on God’s green earth are we supposed to believe a single utterance from these brass necked scapegraces? And why is Julius Melanoma still a free man? Are there really no more good men willing to do something, anything to stop this gravy train of destruction and impoverishment? Are we really considering listening to Julius as the voice of reason and leadership? Strewth, I think I need another lie down.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Why not actually demonstrate that your government and the ANC has changed by acting now and having all those involved in the recent July insurrection arrested? You told us you “know who they are”, so back up your words with actions, else why should we, or anyone else believe a word you are now saying?

    And take a big broom to your cabinet, the upper levels of the civil service, the police, the SSA, the list is endless of those demonstrably shown to be both corrupt and incompetent.

    No that would boost your re-election prospects!!

  • Charles Parr says:

    CR says that the ANC will do better. Do better at what? The only skills that are available in the ANC are absolutely no benefit to civil society, mankind or the earth.

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