/ 24 February 2017

Editorial: No respite for Gauteng ANC

Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Pity the Gauteng ANC, which is doing better than any other provincial government held by the party. It has to take flak from President Jacob Zuma’s supporters because the Gauteng ANC supported the call for him to step down after it was confirmed that he had violated the Constitution.

This week, the ANC Youth League described the Gauteng ANC as “complaining”. The league’s members certainly aren’t abiding by the party’s injunctions to foster unity, and they certainly don’t mind attacking the Gauteng provincial leaders when they are delivering the State of the Province address, which shows that the party is making good progress.

Nowhere else is it so evident that the ANC is its own opposition – and probably its own worst enemy.

The Gauteng ANC is the most progressive of the party’s provincial leaderships, and that’s what the youth league has against it – it’s not a patronage-fuelled, Zuma-worshipping province. But, as the economic powerhouse of the country, it can’t afford to be.

Ironically, after the local government elections that left the ANC weakened in Gauteng (and gave Johannesburg a Democratic Alliance mayor), the youth league called for the resignation of the provincial leadership. It claimed, among other things, that Paul Mashatile, the Gauteng ANC chairperson, was too close to Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema – a mortal sin in the minds of Zuma fans. But, when the league called for the resignation of Premier David Makhura after the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which at least 100 mentally ill patients died, it was singing in tune with the much-detested EFF.

It’s also ironic that the Gauteng youth league is using these deaths as a stick with which to beat Makhura: these are the deaths that the speaker in the National Assembly refused to honour with a minute’s silence, damning the request as a ploy by the DA to embarrass the ANC.

Is the youth league unable to consolidate its position with its colleagues in government? Or is it just acting as the puppets of a higher power? Its factionalism certainly indicates that.