Axe hovers over W Cape ANC

The proposed dissolution of the Western Cape ANC’s leadership is set to dominate a national executive committee meeting of the party next weekend, after a provincial party lekgotla at which it was admitted that the ANC had driven away the coloured vote.

This follows “leaked reports” in most Cape Town newspapers about the sorry state of the Western Cape ANC and how it plans to tackle the new premier of the province, Helen Zille and her all-male cabinet.

Barely a month after being trashed at the polls—the ANC won 26% of the votes in the province—the ANC held a post-election provincial lekgotla last weekend to assess the party’s crisis and plot a way forward.

The Mail & Guardian understands that the meeting focused on the party’s inability to make inroads into the coloured community and the deep racial divisions in the party.

In a sober, soul-baring document presented by the Western Cape ANC secretary, Sipho Kroma, the provincial leadership admitted that it had failed to “hegemonise the principle of non-racialism in our own ranks — which ultimately led to many coloured people believing that the ANC was anti-coloured and to vote for the DA”.

The “Political Report on the Problems and Challenges for the ANC in the Western Cape” describes how the current provincial leadership, under ANC chair Mcebisi Skwatsha, has been portrayed by ANC members themselves as “Africanist and anti-coloured”.

The ghostly figure of ousted premier Ebrahim Rasool hovers over the document.

It says: “The outgoing chairperson [Rasool] stated publicly that he was re-elected chairperson because he was coloured” while “the elected ANC provincial leadership was portrayed as illegitimate, elected through corrupt methods, Africanist and anti-coloured.”

The political report is candid about the factionalism that has plagued the organisation for the past five years, alleging that Rasool launched an anti-Jacob Zuma campaign which also had the effect of smearing provincial leaders.

“The then premier [Rasool] and comrade [Marius Fransman] who were PEC [provincial executive committee] members announced their support and loyalty to Mbeki and launched a campaign for his re-election —

“This very public campaign — labelled comrade Zuma as being linked to the ‘Africanist’ group in the province. It was in essence a swart gevaar campaign. Comrade Zuma was caricatured and demonised as an African—a rapist, anti-white and anti-coloured, corrupt and a danger to the people of the province ...

“The Zuma supporters were smeared with the lies spread around President Zuma, whilst Zuma was smeared with the lies spread around Skwatsha and the ‘Africanists’.”

Central to the push for the dissolution of the PEC is businessman Chris Nissen, who was appointed by Luthuli House to head the Western Cape election task team.

Nissen, who pitched himself as the ANC’s premier candidate despite the fact the Lynne Brown had been the ANC’s choice of premier for nine months, told the M&G last week that he is “asking for the PEC to be dissolved”.

“Skwatsha, Max Ozinsky and Garth Strachan were responsible for destroying the ANC in the province in the run-up to the election, and therefore the PEC should be dissolved.
I have briefed Lynne Brown about that,” Nissen said.

The NEC appointed the election team last year after the ANC lost crucial by-elections six months before the general election, after the party failed to register candidates.

The report argues that national intervention exacerbated the provincial crisis.

“The intervention by the NEC — had the unintended consequence of further reinforcing the factionalism in the province and the negative view of the provincial leadership.”

It adds: “It’s clear that a political strategy for the ANC is required ... this should focus on a conscious plan to change the impressions which have been created of a divided ANC in the province which is anti-coloured, corrupt and Africanist.”

The top five leaders of the PEC include three black, one coloured and one white person.

Lynne Brown said the election results show that “the election campaign was a failure of non-racialism. And that’s what we have to rebuild.

“The lekgotla felt like a renewal and rebuilding the ANC in the Western Cape and understanding our weaknesses.”

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who is said to be in favour of dissolving the provincial leadership, could not be reached for comment.

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