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Democracy 2024 (Day Five) – 15 days to reshape a country

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Ferial Haffajee is Daily Maverick Associate Editor. In her long and storied career, she has been editor-in-chief of both City Press and Mail & Guardian.

ANC vs ANC. Party young guns protest against cooperation with DA as talks start in Boksburg.

Resistance in the ANC grew against a grand coalition with the DA, 15 young party leaders protested outside Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, where the governing party’s leadership met to decide which way to go in power-sharing talks.

I spoke to the organiser of the #NotWithTheDA protest, Esethu Hasane.  He is a young ANC leader and also a director in the Department of Transport.

Question: When was the #NotWithTheDA campaign started because it seemed quite well organised?

Answer: I started it on Monday, and I called a couple of friends to come along. None of them came along. (Communications company owner) Kay Sexwale and (Johannesburg mayor’s adviser) Thuthu Zuma reached out and said they would come, and they did. I was concerned that I might be seen as someone sent by the SG because I am associated with the SG (ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula). I appreciated that we can’t be accused of being aligned with a particular view because we are such different members of the ANC.

Question: On Monday (3 June), what incensed you enough to start a campaign?

Answer: I was irritated by media reports that seemed like a promotion. On that specific day, News24 published four or five articles in favour of an ANC-DA coalition. I thought we should provide an alternative voice.

Question: In substance, why are you so opposed to it?

Answer: I was a student leader at UCT. I come from Nzwakazi, eNgqeleni in rural Eastern Cape. I am black. Policies like affirmative action linked my race, my blackness, to enable me to go there (to UCT). If not for that (policy), I would have fallen short. That enabled me to study politics. I have a major in media and international relations. I have felt the great impact of the role of redress legislation in peoples’ lives. 

My first protest at UCT was against Daso (the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation). They wanted race to be removed as a criterion for admission. The DA has rejected a number of policies brought by the ANC at Parliament. These policies have been supported by the EFF, and UDM, but the DA has the highest record of rejecting (them). The DA has sought to position itself as a replacement and alternative to the now-defunct National Party. It makes no sense to get into bed with them.

The ANC understood the need to create a national identity and national unity.

The reason the ANC has failed, let alone the impact of MK and EFF, is that it has not addressed economic imbalances. We need to transform the economy and share the country’s wealth. The DA resists this and protects the (status quo) economy.

Question: Are there other issues that make you stand so clearly against a coalition with the DA?

Answer: I have been a campaigner and volunteer for the ANC since the 2014 (election). At the time, convincing people to campaign for the ANC was much easier. Since 2021, it has become difficult to get people to vote: people are not working, (electricity) transformers have not been replaced, roads have potholes, and they are not working. This time around, I knew this was going to happen. Even in a family setting, I could not speak to my brother (who is unemployed) and ask him to vote for the ANC. I could not ask my sister and I felt the mood of the country. I wasn’t surprised (by the result).  

The DA has had a chance to govern in Johannesburg. They are in charge in Tshwane where I live. So, outside the economy, there are delivery issues (related to their capacity to deliver). They easily make an argument they govern well in Western Cape. But the people in Gugulethu (Cape Town) or Hammanskraal (Tshwane) they wouldn’t say the same thing about the DA. 

There has been a lot of scare-mongering that the EFF, MK, PA are a threat to the Constitution. As a queer South African, I don’t want to be governed by African traditional law (as MK says). The DA itself wants to make constitutional changes related to employment equity, affirmative action, BEE, student funding and national health insurance. All those policies emanate from the Constitution. When the DA says it wants to scrap BEE, that clearly indicates that they want to amend the Constitution. The same thing with the minimum wage. No one (in the media) is saying these are also constitutional changes. This is because investors get happy about these.

Question: When you speak about the condition of black lives, you don’t attribute responsibility to the ANC, which has been in power for 30 years?

Answer: I represent the government. I have signed a contract. (Hasane is a director in the Transport Department). In 1994, the ANC made a lot of promises. (In addressing) some of those promises like sanitation, water, electricity, housing, the ANC has had successes. Whether the black child gets a good education is still in question. Land is not adequately addressed.  The economy has not changed. The DA does not see this.

Question: Who then would be a good partner for the ANC to co-govern with?

Answer: I am not going to answer that. All 15 of us who protested want the DA excluded, and we have different ideas about power sharing.  The DA is a powerful force, and they can undermine change.  

Question: Is it just 15 of you who believe this?  You’re close to some pretty powerful people in the ANC.  Do you think you are representing a larger body of ANC members?

Answer: We drove here (to Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg). We don’t have the resources to bus in people. It would have been a different story if it had been in Soweto. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jean Racine says:

    There is something improper about a director in the civil service so openly busying himself with party political matters.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Where in the Constitution is BEE mentioned, can any one help me please. There are laws about BEE but not part of the Constitution but I may be wrong

  • Dieter Patrovski says:

    Dear Esethu, agreed, the masses certainly need uplifting. But “sharing the wealth”? What wealth? Our tax base is simply overstretched and overwhelmed. The economy MUST be grown and by a LOT! Please benefit once again from UCT and study economics.

  • Denise Smit says:

    No wonder Transport serives in Gauteng is in such a mess

  • William Kelly says:

    Yup. So much support. All 15. Wow. I’m blown away by this massive resistance. As for his assumptions about the DA, maybe he should work with them for a few months. I am of the firm belief that their differences lie not in the outcomes of bettering people’s lives but in the means of achieving it.

  • Carel de Wit says:

    …”and also a director in the department of Transport.” “I have a major in media and international relations.”
    Seems to me like he is more of a professional protester.

  • Carel de Wit says:

    Fifteen people protest and they get a whole article on DM? It seems you are scratching around for sensation when there are numerous much more serious matters to report on.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    If you come from Rural Eastern Cape, you would have heard about many young infants and children dying of starvation and the stories of Gift of the givers keeping people alive. The ANC is failing the Eastern Cape miserably. You don’t hear this in Western Cape. No wonder so many people migrate to WC.

  • Abrie Venter says:

    Hopefully he will mature over time and realize what makes an economy grow.

    No changes to the constitution to terminate BEE in its current form. He seems to not understand that current BEE laws promote entitlement, create inefficiency and facilitate corruption. This is a chokehold on our economy.

  • Christo Rix says:

    He complains about potholes, and deterioration of services, but as Director, he is directly in a position to make this happen. he is responsible for the budget in his Directorate. Both setting and spending that budget. Dont protest, go to the office!

  • Colin Braude says:

    A deployed cadre, fearful of being found “unfit for purpose”*, no wonder he lies about the DA like the president.

    *A Dept of Transport director, one of the worst failed state organs, for which a lot of the responsibility falls on FixFokkel, with whom he is associated. He is right to fear the DA.

  • Lucifer's Consiglieri says:

    Following African politics’ well trodden path, the only viable solution will be avoided in favour of one that gives added momentum to the downward spiral. The momentum will only be arrested when there is little left to build from. I despair for South Africa.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    Congratulations to Ferial Haffajee on her excellent coverage of this election. However, she implies that SA must form a government within fifteen days whereas my understanding is that Parliament must have its first sitting within fifteen days. The political armwrestling can continue thereafter.

  • Deon Schoeman says:

    Its time that the people that provide the money for this country to run stand up !!! These ones calling fellow citizens the enemy needs to be shown what happens if the money dries up !!!!

  • Paul Zille says:

    A cadre at work. All 15 of them. Says it all.
    And that the ANC ‘leadership’ is swayed by this? A perfect expression of Cyril’s followership.

  • robby 77 says:

    Some kind of young leader…It’s like these guys studied but didn’t get educated. The level of ignorance is astounding. The ANC can never again be left to its own devices and this is a perfect encapsulation as to why.

  • A Concerned Citizen says:

    People misunderstand DA policy. The DA wants to replace race criteria with need. A vast majority of the people in need in SA are black, so this poor Tintswalo would still have gone to UCT. from rural EC. But, what you have done is remove the benefit accruing to politically connected fat cats.

  • Annie Conway says:

    It is sad that Mr Hakane does not realise that his political reasoning results in trying to right a wrong by creating another wrong. One would think a bit of education would lead to a bit of maturity.

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