ANC hijacks state resources for Letsema programme while communities vent grievances
The ANC continues to conflate political party campaigning with official government work. The organisation’s Letsema campaign, which was led by party president Cyril Ramaphosa flanked by other high-ranking officials, involved the party fixing potholes using state resources.
What seemed like an attempt by the governing party to score brownie points with South Africans ended up being a PR stunt gone wrong. The party’s Letsema programme which took place in Delmas on Saturday saw the organisation’s president being part of a cleaning project and pothole project.
Ramaphosa started the cleaning programme in the morning but it was when he was at Botleng Township Extension 7 just before midday that the theatrics started. Upon arrival, he was met by workers from the Victor Khanye Municipality. Ramaphosa was then given a quick crash course on how to use a compactor machine, which fixes potholes, and in a matter of no time, he tried his hand at road construction.
The roads in Botleng are generally in a bad state, so much that it looks as if the tar has faded and they are mostly covered in sand. But instead of initiating that the roads be refurbished, Ramaphosa went about his business to get the perfect photo opportunity — which was accompanied by cheers and applause by his comrades.
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) September 3, 2022
After the show, Ramaphosa then went on to meet structures of the ANC where he congratulated Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane and her team for prioritising fixing potholes by buying the required machines.
The programme which was launched in Mangaung on 23 April, 2022 is focused on placing structures of the ANC at the forefront of service delivery and engaging communities. The initiative appears to be a rehash of the Letsema campaign launched by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2002.
“We are going to say goodbye to potholes and that will be done by our government. Forward with the Mpumalanga government, forward. I want to thank the leadership in the province, comrade Mandla [Ndlovu], that there is stability in government and the ANC is gaining momentum,” the President said.
Earlier this year, the ANC received backlash from the DA when they launched the Letsema programme in Bloemfontein. Free State premier Sisi Ntombela in her capacity as an ANC leader handed over a home alongside Ramaphosa as part of the project but it was paid for by the government.
In a reply to a question in the Free State legislature in July, provincial Cogta MEC Mxolisi Dukwana then confirmed that the house — which was worth R133,000 — was paid for by the Free State government.
Community air out their frustrations
The meeting which was held at the Simon Gonde stadium was where ANC structures and community members got the opportunity to speak to Ramaphosa about their issues. Some of the community members who addressed the president looked either tipsy or drunk — which spoke to the social ills which South Africans are faced with.
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Even Ramaphosa himself jokingly acknowledged that there might be an alcohol abuse problem in Delmas after having found mostly empty alcohol bottles during the clean-up campaign earlier on in the morning.
Community members lamented the high unemployment rate, illegal foreigners and the lack of learning institutions in their area. Some requested that foreign nationals shops shut down to allow South Africans to operate their own spazas and others complained that they were never successful in their attempts to apply for the R350 unemployment grant which was first introduced at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) September 3, 2022
In response to this, Ramaphosa said that it was up to ANC branches to assist communities in need.
“The job of the branch is to deal with the issues people are facing from the problems that the young people are facing, to the problem of an elder who does not have a home. We must address these problems positively and find solutions. Yes, if there is no solution people have the right to protest but not to do so violently,” he said.
Ramaphosa had the following to say about unemployment in Delmas: “One of the critical problems we are facing is unemployment. Now, during Covid, two million jobs were lost, adding to many others who were already unemployed. Now we have a bigger burden. In the past few months, we found that more jobs have been created and we are hoping that the process and momentum will continue. The policies we have embarked on are making it a lot better for us to create jobs.”
Community members complained about mining companies which they believe are not giving back to the people of Mpumalanga and the possible job losses which will be incurred because of the introduction of renewable energy in the country.
Mpumalanga is rich in coal reserves, and home to South Africa’s major coal-fired power stations — three of which are among the biggest in the southern hemisphere. The province produces about 80% of the country’s coal.
“Yes, we will have transition and as we go towards renewable energy and over time we manage things at a good pace. What we want to see is that people must be able to retain their jobs. They must be retrained, reskilled so that when the country starts using renewable energy, they can continue working,” according to Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa gets strong backing from Mpumalanga for re-election
ANC structures in Mpumalanga were delighted to have Ramaphosa in their province, which was evident in the warm welcome he received at the Simon Gonde stadium. They sang songs praising him, giving the sense that they supported his re-election as party president.
When ANC Mpumalanga chair Mandla Ndlovu had to introduce Ramaphosa, he used the opportunity to throw his weight behind his re-election.
“President, you are safe in Mpumalanga and we are also happy that the ANC is saying that in your hands we will always be on your side. We will be in the[national] conference [in December], be strong, be fearless, be smart and be beautiful. You will be victorious, you have the right people supporting you,” he said.
Nkangala regional chair Thomas Ngwenya shared the same sentiments as Ndlovu.
“President Ramaphosa for second term, nothing will distract us,” he chanted.
The ANC will be holding its 55th national conference in December where new leadership will be elected for the party. Ramaphosa could possibly be contested by the likes of ANC NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu who has been campaigning throughout the country. DM
Daily Maverick has asked the ANC for a response to the conflation of party and state and it will be added when it is forthcoming.