The ANC is anticipating huge resistance to the changes made in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality which saw soccer boss Danny Jordaan announced as mayor.
The ANC’s national working committee noted, in a report presented at the ANC national executive committee meeting on Saturday, that there is a possibility of massive resistance to these changes from party factions in the region.
“Stability must be achieved quicker if our performance is to improve,” reads the report, seen by the Mail & Guardian.
Oh boy, Danny?
The ANC announced on Monday afternoon that Jordaan would replace 83-year-old mayor Nkosinathi Benson Fihla who held office for only two years.
The announcement was made following a series of talks held between the ANC’s top leadership and provincial and regional leaders as well as councillors of the ANC. The talks were led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the replacement was a result of “a desire to step up the game”, and downplayed the prospect of resistance.
“I don’t know how you can resist a member of the ANC,” he told the M&G from Port Elizabeth on Monday evening. “There were changes to three positions. If there is resistance there will be for all three positions.”
The former deputy mayor of the municipality, Bicks Ndoni, made a return to that position while the ANC announced that Litho Suka is the new chief whip, replacing Joy Seale.
Mantashe said that this change was not a show of no confidence in Fihla’s leadership.
“His greatest achievement was bringing stability to that region. When he went there they were fighting like cats and dogs,” he said.
In December last year, the regional leadership was disbanded following years of infighting in the region. According to the ANC’s own appraisal of the situation in the metro contained in the national working committee report, discontent constitutes the biggest threat for the ANC.
There is also major distrust between the ANC and its youth league in the region.
Aside from internal shenanigans plaguing the region, there is also a tangible threat of the opposition taking over in next year’s local government elections.
“The opposition parties are focusing on this metro as an area of serious contest,” the report continued.
The Democratic Alliance has announced its incumbent provincial leader and federal chair Atholl Trollip as the mayoral candidate for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.
The party also used that area as the base for its congress last week, at which it elected Mmusi Maimane to replace Helen Zille as party leader.
“The DA is consciously targeting the metro having been emboldened by the fact that their student movement controls two universities in the province, Fort Hare and Nelson Mandela University,” the report noted.
It further noted that former Cope members were moving to the DA; “thus giving boost to the campaign of penetrating the black areas”.
Trollip, however, is unfazed by Jordaan’s appointment, believing it is a desperate response by an ANC in “panic mode”. He told Times Live: “Our strategy to govern the metro will not change. It is the ANC’s strategy that has changed and the party is in panic mode.”
“No matter the public face of the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay, it will still be the same party that has dragged the city to its knees.”
It is still unclear when Jordaan will take office as Fihla has yet to resign and the former has to be registered as an ANC councillor with the Electoral Commission.
The ANC notes that if it wants to retain the metro it has to step up service delivery urgently.
“Key areas of focus for delivery are human settlements, water and sanitation, the integrated transport system and access to land for development and stopping the regular evictions of communities,” the report concluded.
Following the ANC’s intervention in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, the party will be shifting its attention to “instability” in its biggest region, eThekwini.
Safa and sound
Jordaan currently serves as the president of the South African Football Association (Safa). Following his appointment as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, the Economic Freedom Fighters released a statement on Tuesday demanding he resign from his position as soccer boss.
“Jordaan must resign from the association since he has chosen active politics and life as an ANC politician,” national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.
“Jordaan must also resign to ensure that he does not render a body, that should be neutral and rally everyone regardless of their political affiliation, partisan.”
However, Times Live has reported that Safa has no issue with Jordaan’s mayoral appointment as it should not affect his duties as the body’s president.
“There is no contradiction at all,” said Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said.
He told Kickoff.com it was a “global norm” that leading a sports association was not a full-time position, and that most senior ANC leaders held down full-time jobs in any case. “The president of the Madagascar FA is a minister in the current government and former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner was the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.”