ANC turns attention to Western Cape

The African National Congress (ANC) is abandoning pending court actions to focus its resources on the “disaster” it faces in the Western Cape, secretary general Gwede Mantashe announced on Thursday.

Speaking after the ANC’s final national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the year in Kempton Park, Mantashe said the party was withdrawing its Constitutional Court action over the decision to exclude the ANC from Western Cape by-elections last week because candidates registered late.

It was also withdrawing its appeal against the high court ruling allowing the newly formed Congress of the People to use the name, but maintains that the 1955 meeting after which its is named, and at which the Freedom Charter was adopted, remains a fundamental part of ANC history.

Describing the ANC’s performance in the December 10 by-elections in the Western Cape as “pathetic”, Mantashe said the party obtained only 11% of the vote where it had managed to field candidates.

On the verge of collapse, the party’s provincial structures needed “urgent intervention”.

The ANC, which earlier this year removed Ebrahim Rasool as Western Cape premier, had decided it would not disband the provincial executive committee, as this could lead to the “total collapse” of the ANC in the area.

Instead, the NEC would send in a team of senior cadres to “strengthen” the leadership in the province, said Mantashe, but could not immediately provide their names and said these would be circulated.

This team would have total political oversight of the province, he said, adding that the provincial executive would not be able to take political decisions without the approval of the NEC team.

The arrangement would be reconsidered after next year’s general election.

“[It was] decided to rescue the little that is left there [the Western Cape] and build on it.”

He said the NEC team’s comprehensive strategy for the Western Cape would include the targeting of the coloured community and other minority communities alongside the ANC’s historical base in the area.

It would ensure the involvement of people who were active in the ANC tripartite alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and other sectors,

The ANC was “determined” to win the province, said Mantashe.

The focus of campaigning in the Western Cape would be on eradicating poverty—which remained the ANC’s major national objective.

Other priorities likely to be included in the ANC’s manifesto, to be launched in East London on January 10 are: job creation, the fight against crime, improving healthcare services, education, development of rural infrastructure and agricultural reform.

Cholera
Mantashe said the NEC also discussed the issue of Zimbabwe at its two-day meeting.

“... the time for hoping for change must come to an end,” he said.

“Neither the people of South Africa nor the people of Zimbabwe deserve the devastation that the political deadlock is creating.

“The reported cases of abductions and detentions without trial tests the very fabric of the liberation we fought for in this region of Africa.

“We call on the political leaders in Zimbabwe to stop the infighting and put the people first.”

Mantashe said the ANC would continue to support the South African government’s decision to provide healthcare and other humanitarian aid to Zimbabweans.

However, he pointed out that the cholera pandemic in Zimbabwe was affecting South Africa’s own population.

The lack of facilities in the border town of Musina, to which Zimbabweans are flocking for treatment, was “fast stressing” the capability of South Africa’s own health institutions.

Earlier on Thursday, ANC president Jacob Zuma said the party did not support military intervention in Zimbabwe “because there is no war”.

“The country’s leaders just need to be pressurised through talks on what should be done,” he said in an interview on 702 Talk Radio.—Sapa

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