ANC rolls out its heroes to win Western Cape
Worried about public perceptions ahead of the local elections next year, the ANC in the Western Cape is considering roping in its dignified veterans, such as former finance minister Trevor Manuel and the party’s former deputy secretary general and acting secretary general, Cheryl Carolus.
Others want controversial but relatively popular leaders such as Beaufort West municipality mayor Truman Prince and one of the ringleaders of the poo protesters, Andile Lili.
The leadership change consideration comes shortly after the ANC parachuted sporting figure and former party MP Danny Jordaan into the troubled Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality, an attempt at buttressing its power and sprucing up its image ahead of local government elections.
The party lost Cape Town and the Western Cape to the Democratic Alliance and factional battles tore it apart, weakening its ability to recapture the only province seemingly out of the ANC’s power reach.
Now, branches in the Western Cape want a better leadership to battle it out with the DA.
It’s not the first time the party has considered Manuel; his name was punted as a candidate for premier in 2009.
But, should these branches get their way and people such as Manuel and Carolus agree to stand, it seems that, unlike Jordaan, they will have to put up with fierce leadership battles in the party.
With a week to go before the province’s elective congress, it is expected that more nominations will be added to the list to challenge the current ANC provincial chairperson, Marius Fransman, and the party’s provincial secretary, Songezo Mjongile.
According to four branch leaders in the Dullah Omar and Eden regions, a faction opposed to Fransman’s leadership is nominating several names, including Manuel and Carolus, to unseat Fransman as chairperson.
“One of the branches said they wanted Trevor Manuel to bring back the dignity of the party here and they want to approach him,” said a leader from the party’s West Coast region. He asked not to be named because the lists cannot be made public until the congress.
“Others want Carolus and others want Truman Prince to contest Fransman. There are just too many names for the position of the chairperson,” he said.
Ready to lead
Prince said he knew about his nomination and was ready to lead the Western Cape. He was dismissed as a municipal manager in 2005 on charges of sexual misconduct for soliciting underage prostitutes. He appealed and got his job back in 2007.
None of that will stand in the way of him leading the province, he said, adding: “I am currently the mayor and the past doesn’t hinder me from doing my job. I am a people’s person. I am not scared to take up any position. I am a hard worker. I am definitely willing to render my services.”
Truman Prince has popular appeal. (Clarence Muller, Rapport)
Prince said even though many names were being proposed for leadership positions, he would assist the ANC to secure good results in next year’s municipal elections.
“If I can make an input in provincial leadership and try to make people see the ANC in better eyes, I will, especially leading up to the local government elections. Once unity is achieved in the party and everyone is on the same page, the sky will be the limit for the ANC. We are our own worst enemy and we need to close the gaps and work together.”
Though the Mail & Guardian could not independently confirm that Manuel and Carolus are in the running, Prince said he knew of the two leaders’ nomination because he had seen the lists.
Take up the challenge
Poo-thrower Lili said he would take up the challenge if voted in at the congress.
“The people have spoken. I am humbled Cape Town people have nominated me because we need an ANC that will be respected here,” he said.
He added that the ANC had lost its influence in the province. “All the marches and campaigns that are led by the ANC are not really supported by the people. They take it as a useless and unimportant party because of the conduct of the leadership. We need a leader that will stand for the society, not one that will be booed by the people.”
Lili said it was mostly branches in the rural areas that were electing Manuel and Carolus because they wanted stability in the province.
“For all members, it is about bringing back the dignity of the party in the province.”
Cause of division
After reports in City Press regarding Lili’s candidacy, Fransman called on party members to refrain from promoting slates (lists of preferred leadership candidates) because they caused division.
“In order for the ANC to live, lists and factions must die. Different to the period prior to 2011, the current leadership brought more stability to the ANC Western Cape.
Cheryl Carolus is a veteran who has proved her worth. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)
“We cannot allow that to be sacrificed now by some for short-term factional gains. Lists have the potential of ‘winner takes all’ and normally the potential to sacrifice good-quality leaders for the interest of opportunists,” he said.
ANC chief whip Xolani Sotashe said his Dullah Omar region, the biggest in the province, would not influence its delegates’ choice of leaders.
‘Wait for the weekend’
“Our region is having its own congress this weekend and it is only then that we would be able to detail exactly what we hope to get out of the provincial congress. So we will wait until the weekend,” he said.
Mjongile said the names would only be made public at the congress because branches were still finalising their nominations.
“We do not have access to the nominations, only the electoral officers do and they cannot disclose them.”
The provincial congress is scheduled for next weekend (June 26-28) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.