ANC infighting so close to election could prove disastrous
The ANC has drawn a line in the sand, said president Cyril Ramaphosa, and ill-discipline and disrespect within the ruling party will no longer be tolerated. He was speaking at the Northern Cape’s provincial conference at the weekend.
A similar gospel was preached by Eastern Cape ANC chair and premier Oscar Mabuyane during his opening remarks at a meeting of the Eastern Cape ANC’s provincial executive committee (PEC) on Saturday. The meeting was attended by former president Thabo Mbeki.
Admitting that achieving unity within and renewal of the ANC was always going to be a challenge, Mabuyane said the fightback by “beneficiaries of corruption and corporate capture of the state” was expected. The party’s contentious “step aside” rule has plunged the ANC into chaos and exposed the deep cracks within its foundation. The divisions have not only played out in full view of everyone on the national arena in the form of Ace Magashule versus Ramaphosa and the ANC, but at regional level too.
One example is the OR Tambo district, which is one of the ANC’s largest regions in the country. A few days ago the Dispatch put forward the question: who is running OR Tambo district municipality? The answer is still not clear. Two council meetings were convened last week — one called by suspended OR Tambo chair and council speaker Xolile Nkompela while a second meeting, attended by mayor Thokozile Sokanyile, convened to oust Nkompela from his position. The opposition councillors attended Nkompela’s meeting, saying they were not invited to the second one.
It isn’t the first time ANC politics has played out in the OR Tambo council. Earlier this year, council sent an intervention team from the provincial government packing, saying there was no progress in terms of turning around the fortunes of the ailing municipality. This move put the region at odds with the provincial leadership, which has since taken action against several members.
Expected or not, the infighting does not bode well for the ANC, especially with the country just five months away from the polls. As the ruling party, the ANC’s inner turmoil unfortunately spills over to councils. These councils are responsible for driving development and service delivery imperatives and when the decision-makers do not see eye to eye, it causes instability and it is the people on the ground who will suffer the consequences.
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