/ 10 July 2016

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe hit the campaign trail on Saturday and went door-to-door in Soweto

The Johannesburg branch of the ANC has put Kgalema Motlanthe's name forward as a candidate for the presidency of the ANC.
The Johannesburg branch of the ANC has put Kgalema Motlanthe's name forward as a candidate for the presidency of the ANC.

He might differ with President Jacob Zuma’s leadership style, but former president Kgalema Motlanthe believes the ANC is still the best organisation to lead South Africa. 

Motlanthe came out of retirement on Saturday to join Gauteng ANC leaders like provincial ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and provincial health minister Qedani Mahlangu for a door-to-door campaign in Dobsonville, Soweto. 

The ANC veteran hit the streets of Soweto to door campaign to encourage residents to vote for the ANC at the local government elections on August 3. Residents used the opportunity to highlight service delivery issues in the area, with access to housing a main concern for many people. Joyce Mthiyane said she was still waiting for the RDP house she was promised five years ago. “I pay R500 rent and I don’t have a job, I wish to have my own house,” she told Motlanthe.

Wanda Mbalula, a resident at Ingethi, hostel pleaded with Motlanthe to help hostel residents to get houses. Mbalula said that jobs were hard to come by and that government projects in the area were only allocated to those with links to the ANC.

Braamfischerville residents pleaded with the campaigning ANC leadership for better roads and access to electricity. They said that when it rains the roads become a hazard and put children who usually play outside in danger. Residents also complained about regular power failures, especially now that is winter.

Motlanthe and Mashatile promised to resolve the residents’ grievances but urged the residents not to lose confidence in the ANC. Motlanthe also warned residents against ‘independent candidates’, and described them as opportunists who are using the ANC brand to campaign for votes. “Don’t vote for those who go to hunt with salt and promise to come back, because they will feast alone and not remember you,” Motlanthe warned.

Some of the disgruntled residents in the area accused the ANC of abandoning them and only being visible because elections were around the corner. Ratanang Mokoena, who is in his early twenties, said he would not vote for the ANC because all the party’s promises have not being realised. “I don’t have a full time job, and if I was to buy a car, I’d have to move out of this area because the roads are bad,” said Mokoena.

During the 2014 general elections, the ANC’s electoral support declined by 10%. At the time, ANC leaders in Gauteng blamed Zuma’s numerous scandals for the decline. Notably, many of the t-shirts and street posters printed for the ANC manifesto launch in Gauteng last month did not have Zuma’s face. And the Gauteng ANC branch became the first ANC structure to call Zuma to step down after the Constitutional Court judgement on Nkandla. The ruling found that Zuma did not uphold the constitution.

But the province changed its position on Zuma after it was put under pressure by senior leaders in the ANC. In 2014, the Gauteng ANC leadership caused a stir when it said it would be former president Thabo Mbeki campaigning in the province, thereby snubbing Zuma. 

In an interview with Business Day last year, Motlanthe said the ANC-led tripartite alliance was dead and lashed out at the current ANC leadership, saying they lacked the political ability and consciousness required to maintain a united and nonracial society- a key ideal articulated during the liberation struggle. 

Motlanthe told Soweto residents on Saturday to acknowledge that while there were challenges within the ANC, the governing party delivered it’s promises for many communities across the country over the years. 

The ANC leadership also used door-to-door campaigning as an opportunity to visit DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s parents’ home in Dobsonville.

Motlanthe and Mashatile held a private meeting with the opposition leader’s family members and did not reveal the details of the discussion to the media. On social media, Maimane called the ANC’s visit at his parents’ home “an act of desperation”.