Public views are a litmus test for a winning formula in the 2019 national elections.
There is an indication from Luthuli House that a window to transfer power from the National Executive Committee (NEC) back to the branches will finally be opened in September 2017 after five years of suspension. And within those five years a lot has happened which has brought the ANC into disrepute with the consequent erosion of public confidence, abundantly depicted by the ANC’s loss of power in some of the municipalities, including three key metros (City of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay) as it national electoral fortunes nose-dived from 69.69% in 2004 to 54% during the August 2016 local government elections.
Lest we forget, this is not a show of strength of the political opposition parties more than a serious indictment of the ANC’s organisational weaknesses. People are talking and argue that they solely switched their votes and some abstained to punish the ANC because of its shenanigans. This shows love and loyalty to the organisation of a towering figure, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
It will be foolhardy, for the branches, as they exercise their power to nominate national leadership, to ignore the voices of the public and allow themselves to be consumed by factionalism and other isms. This approach has not worked before but has instead consumed the ANC. Thus it is high time to change the approach and for the branches to place a high premium on the views of the public about candidates for national leadership positions. This is more of a balanced approach than the whims of individuals who see the opportunity in the congress movement for self-enrichment, a tendency that is mostly perpetrated by the upper structures through their imposed candidates. Branches should stamp their authority and say enough is enough.
With that said, let me hasten to update the branches that as we are fast approaching the December 2017 elective conference people have started talking with interest about who will emerge as the president of the ANC during the December elective conference. This interest is palpable across the spectrums of society, from the religious sector, business sector, civil society groups, political opposition parties, fourth estate, family gatherings and work places to beer halls; and from well-wishers to the haters and the doomsayers. This interest emanates from the fact the ANC is a majority party, and in terms of its Polokwane 2007 resolution; “The ANC President shall be the candidate of the movement for President of the Republic.”
Second, the President of the Republic wields power from section 91 (2) of the Constitution to “…appoint the deputy president and ministers, assigns their powers and functions and may dismiss them”. This presidential prerogative has a direct bearing on the performance of the state which affects every citizen of the country. It is the main reason South Africans, including the ANC’s alliance partners (SACP and Cosatu), attribute the country’s current junk status and technical recession largely to President Jacob Zuma’s decisions about his Cabinet – which border on favouritism rather than merit. This has created a negative narrative and perceptions about the glorious movement of Isithwalandwe Oliver Reginald Tambo that are centred on corruption, and has created a mudsling minefield for opposition political parties and apartheid-colonial apologists to discredit the ANC and cast doubts on its legitimacy as a leader of society.
It therefore stands to reason that the only way to turn around the electoral fortunes of the ANC is for the branches to move beyond the branch bubble and self-glory phenomenon to consider the views of the various interests groups about all ANC’s presidential hopefuls. For this to happen, the branches across the length and breadth of the country should have the intelligence and guts to reconcile their views with the public views. This is the only way for the ANC to remain an unquestionable leader of society and a mass democratic movement. It is high time to acknowledge the fact that the ANC rose to power in April 1994 because of its supporters, not members, and 23 years later is on a slippery slope again because of its supporters. Thus, any suggestion to ignore what people are saying about the candidature of our presidential hopefuls and implications thereof to the image of the party is self-serving and misleading. The saying amandla asemasebeni, loosely translated as “power is in the branches”, is not only mischievously inward looking but also serves to massage and inflate the ego of the branches for selfish reasons. The branches are granted power by the ANC’s constitution to nominate the president of the ANC but it is for the majority of South Africans to elect the ANC during 2019 national government elections. And therefore, the power of the branches without complimentary power from the supporters of the ANC remains hollow.
Branch members should open their ears and listen carefully to what the public says about the presidential candidates and deliver exactly what people want. They do not want corruption. Like apartheid, corruption benefits a few individuals with close proximity to power and their kith and kin while subjecting the majority to abject poverty. Therefore, it is incumbent upon branches to deliver for the people a presidential candidate who has no ties to corruption as s/he might be tolerant to corruption. Fellow branch members must listen very carefully to the views and positions of the ANC presidential hopefuls on corruption as they criss-cross the length and breadth of the country and deliver whoever shows the appetite and conviction to deal with perpetrators of corruption. It is time to arrest the erosion of public confidence in the ANC, do the right thing with your conscience. DM
David Vakalisa Ka-Ndyalvan is an ANC member at Akaso Branch and he writes in his personal capacity.
"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle