Gauteng ANC 'undermining' election campaign by not using Zuma
Following its provincial general council at the weekend, the ANC in Gauteng maintains it is ready to do election battle and is aiming for a 70% victory during next year's national polls.
This is despite grave concerns by an ANC clique in the province that claims that the party's election programme was too weak and ill-prepared for the fierce contest ahead. The ANC will go head-to-head with the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the new kid on the block, Agang SA, led by academic and struggle stalwart Mamphela Ramphele.
The group is made up of ANC members who supported the re-election of President Jacob Zuma at the party's elective conference in December last year.
Gauteng, the engine room of the South African economy, supported the party's former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe for the position of ANC president.
A pro-Zuma supporter told the Mail & Guardian this week: "They are not on the ground. The DA is in the townships. It is on the ground and visible. It is campaigning and making inroads. The [ANC's] Moses Kotane Volunteer Brigade programme was a total failure because they rented a mob. They are undermining the campaign with their sloppiness."
Another Zuma supporter added that the ANC chairperson and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and his provincial executive committee were also reluctant to use Zuma's face in their election campaign.
'A 100% volunteer'
The pro-Zuma supporters further alleged that during the Moses Kotane Volunteer Brigade launch in Johannesburg recently, ANC members were not wearing President Zuma's T-shirts because they were given ones that said: "I am a 100% volunteer".
"The nametags of the delegates at the [provincial general council] this weekend only had the face of former president Nelson Mandela. Even if the council was dedicated to Mandela you still have to acknowledge the sitting president. During the launch of the Moses Kotane Volunteer programme they also did not have his face on the T-shirts. When will they have JZ's [Zuma's] face on the t-shirts?" asked a pro-Zuma supporter in an interview with the M&G.
A regional leader sympathetic to Zuma also told the M&G that the provincial leadership was marginalising those who supported the president at Mangaung.
"When it comes to their election programme, all those who supported Zuma have been sidelined in the Pretoria and Johannesburg regions and are not part of the elections machinery. Our activism is being frustrated because we supported JZ in Mangaung," said the regional leader.
Dumisa Ntuli, the ANC's provincial spokesperson in Gauteng, dismissed allegations that the party's elections machinery was in disarray and ill-prepared for battle.
'We cannot be sidetracked'
Ntuli also dismissed concerns by some party leaders who claim that the provincial leadership was unwilling to use the face of Zuma in their election programme.
"We are the only province which is ahead of the elections campaign. We cannot be sidetracked by armchair critics. We are working on the ground to win the elections. We command a formidable army of battle-tested volunteers most of whom are seasoned community activists and fearless fighters for fundamental socioeconomic transformation. Our election program is intact and speak to minute details of the campaign," said Ntuli.
"We are using the face of the president in all campaigns. In our provincial general council we distributed T-shirts with the face of the president. The T-shirts in the Moses Kotane launch were for volunteers to identify themselves when doing door-to-door. The president was the main speaker and he wore the volunteer shirt."
Ntuli said the party's election strategy was in full swing and over 20 000 volunteer corps were currently doing door-to-door visits in every household in the province, especially in the ANC strongholds. The party's share of the vote in Gauteng declined in 2009 to 64%, from 68% in the 2004 election and 67% in 1999.
He said "the noise being made by the opposition, especially the DA about winning the Gauteng province was nothing but a pipedream that serves simply as political posturing".
"We shall meet them on the ground where thousands of our volunteers have an unrivalled capacity with voters and respond to their issues and concerns," said Ntuli.
"The ANC's Gauteng volunteers are on the ground working and all elections structures are in place. We have done a lot of campaign in regions including Midvaal and there is positive mood amongst the residents that the ANC would take over that DA-controlled municipality."
Panyaza Lesufi, basic education spokesperson and one of the senior provincial leaders who supported Zuma's re-election ahead of the national conference in Mangaung, failed in his bid to replace ANC Gauteng's former deputy secretary general Humphrey Memezi during the weekend's provincial general council. Former West Rand regional secretary Boycie Maneli was elected to the position.
The position became vacant after Memezi, who was also the former Gauteng minister of housing, was elected into the ANC's national executive committee in Mangaung.