Public works minister and ANC NEC member Thulas Nxesi has warned of a looming political disaster facing the ruling party if it does not revisit the operating strategy it once employed when waging war against apartheid.
Nxesi said the unseating of ANC affiliated student organisation the South African Students Congress (Sasco) in various campuses around the country was an indication of what was to come.
He expressed concern that institutions of higher learning which championed the struggle against apartheid were now under the control of opposition parties.
Nxesi told a Walter Sisulu Memorial lecture in Polokwane on Monday that it was embarrassing to have the University of Limpopo under the Economic Freedom Fighters and to have Fort Hare University taken over by the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation.
“Those two campuses are mainly for the disadvantaged, mainly black, and mainly Africans,” he said.
“To have those campuses taken over, and they are mainly rural, is an indictment on Sasco and on us as the African National Congress.”
He said the ANC must know that when young people lose their appetite for Sasco politics it is a recipe for disaster in the upcoming local government elections.
“Those are warning signs because those are young people, those are future voters.”
Nxesi used the memorial lecture to remind ANC members of effective programmes the organisation once used when championing the struggle against apartheid.
He said it was that strategy which secured the trust of voters.
However, Nxesi was not worried that the trust was slowly fading, saying low voter turnout was also a sign.
“In the recent elections, the significant drop in voter turnout is a concern, clearly the internal strife in the organisation has defocused our energy,” he said.
“We must never ever … betray that loyalty and trust that people have given to government. If you are engaged in corruption, you are stealing from the poor you are betraying the masses.”
“The masses of South Africa will never be loyal forever. One day if you continue with mess they will turn against us. Don’t think this is blind loyalty.
“If there is mess after mess … after mess one day you will regret [it],” he warned.
Nxesi said there was some truth in media reports about corruption which must be tackled.
“Even though some may argue that the media is full of stories on corruption … Some of the things are true and some are never exposed. But there is some truth in whatever the media is reporting,” he cautioned.
“We must not just be dismissive because the tendency is just … to be dismissive of everything.”
He also referred to a document entitled: Alliance at a Crossroads, which provided details on how the ANC’s behaviour was causing damage.
“Once we are elected in the positions we have no time to go to the masses, we are always busy,” he said arguing that leaders forget about the masses. — News24