AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu has called on the ANC to remove President Jacob Zuma from office if it wants to stem its electoral decline and woo back disgruntled members and supporters.
The monarch, who is no stranger to campaigning for the ANC, expressed his views during the royal enrobing of one of his senior traditional leaders, Chief Zwelinzima Sigidi, at Sundwane village near Willowvale at the weekend.
“If President Jacob Zuma is the one believed to be causing disenchantment among the ANC and people do not want him, then the organisation, for the sake of its survival and integrity, must just do the honourable thing and remove him as party leader to save the ANC.”
Sigcawu added: “After his removal, we will see the members the ANC lost coming back in droves. People still love the ANC and, definitely, they will come back home.”
The outspoken king expressed concern about the instability and leadership vacuum within the ANC, adding that he feared that if something was not done urgently, the party would pay dearly.
If that happened, then the country, he said, would find itself in a turmoil which would “reverse the gains made by democracy”.
He said traditional leaders should “not keep quiet but always give leadership when it [the party] is drifting off the radar”.
The king campaigned for the ANC and urged his traditional leaders and their communities to vote for the ANC in the recent local government elections.
The outcome was a shock for the governing party, whose electoral support dropped to 54% nationally – down from 61% in 2011 and 64% in 2006.
This loss of 10 percentage points over the past decade means that if the trend continues, it will find itself well below 50% within the next decade.
At the weekend, the king and some influential and vocal traditional leaders, including Contralesa provincial chairman Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana and Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders chairman Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima and Chief Zwelinzima Sigidi said the arrogance of ANC leaders had cost the party plenty.
The king and Nonkonyana vowed that there would be war if the government continued making laws which demanded that people in rural communities be granted title deeds to land and were forced to pay property tax.
“If the ANC leadership does not shed their arrogance, traditional leaders will join organisations who are passionate about land ownership. The government is looking at taking away the 13% of land owned by us, instead of restoring the 87% stolen by the barrel of the gun from our ancestors,” Nonkonyana said.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa, who is also an ANC NEC member, officially handed over the certificate of chieftainship recognition to Chief Sigidi, saying that the “situation requires that we [the ANC] get our priorities right”.
“We are disappointed at the loss of the Nelson Mandela Metro, Tshwane [Metro] and a number of key municipalities. This is a serious setback to the cause of social transformation. However, he said: “The people have spoken and we must listen. We acknowledge and accept the message. We observed in many areas that our communities are running out of patience over the lack of service delivery and job creation.”
Xasa said the ANC had called for an urgent national executive committee (NEC) meeting and had invited all alliance partners to find out what went wrong and how to make things better.
The event was attended by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Contralesa secretary-general Chief Xolile Ndevu, his provincial counterpart Chief Mkhanyiseli Dudumayo, and members of the AmaRharhabe and AbaThembu kingdoms and various royal houses.
King Sigcawu’s comments are likely to rattle the ANC, which so far has found every other reason, except for Zuma, to explain its poor showing in the recent elections.
Last week’s NEC meeting decided on taking “collective responsibility” for the loss of key metros by the ruling party.
So far two metros – Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane – previously held by the ANC, are under DA-led coalitions.
Today the council of the City of Johannesburg will sit and appoint a new mayor, with the DA’s Herman Mashaba expected to take the position – unless some of the opposition parties’ councillors vote against their party mandates as they did in Rustenburg Municipality last week.
Meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of a youth dialogue in East London at the weekend, ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize again defended Zuma.
Mkhize told the SABC that, contrary to popular belief, removing Zuma before the local government elections, would have hurt the party.
He also rejected calls by the ANC Youth League for the party to call an early elective conference to elect new leadership. — firstname.lastname@example.org