The ANC has embarked on a campaign of renewal and the ruling party’s new dawn now includes working with the opposition, officials have said.
In a landmark sitting at the National Assembly earlier this week, the party’s caucus voted with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on their motion to begin a process that will amend the Constitution so that land can be expropriated without compensation.
Given the fierce rivalry between the EFF and the ANC, the ruling party’s decision to vote with the red berets drew some surprise.
“The ANC reaffirms our resolution that the accelerated land reform program must be executed in an orderly manner… with clear targets and timeframes, and sound legal and economic principles,” Magashule said at a press briefing on Thursday.
But Dekota Legoete, who has been deployed to work full-time in the organising and campaigns office at Luthuli House, said on Thursday that working with opposition parties is advantageous to the ANC.
“It’s in our interest to work with the opposition to find a better South Africa and better service delivery,” Legoete said.
Legoete said, however, the priority of the party remains “unity and renewal”. In a departure from previous years where the party had maintained it had done nothing wrong, Legoete said the ANC is now willing to “humble” itself to “regain lost ground”.
“We are going to humble ourselves before our people so that we can bring the ANC back to its former glory,” he said.
Regaining lost ground will mean getting back the municipalities that the party had lost to opposition parties during local government elections and getting enough momentum to topple rivals in the 2019 national elections.
The team assembled at Luthuli House that is working on the party’s renewal campaign includes Senzo Mchunu, who sat opposite ANC secretary general Ace Magashule. Fikile Mbalula and Zizi Kodwa are now also based full-time at Luthuli House to focus on the party’s organisation after the dismissal of former president Jacob Zuma.
Just three months ago, Mchunu and Magashule, a Zuma ally, squared up at the ANC’s national elective conference for the secretary general position.
But ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte emphasised that the group is a “team” and they have been given a mandate to: “build a stronger ANC, make sure the ANC is modernised and to have a very decisive victory in the 2019 elections”.
Already, the post-Zuma ANC may be taking back the ground it lost in previous years. Earlier this week, the EFF said that it would vote for an ANC candidate to lead Nelson Mandela Bay in an effort to remove the DA’s Athol Trollip, the current mayor.
The EFF previously said it would never vote with the ANC. But the EFF did an about-turn following the ruling party’s backing of the red beret’s proposal for land expropriation without compensation.
The ANC’s renewal campaign has already included tackling the land issue after taking a resolution at the December elective conference that land expropriation without compensation must become party policy.
Duarte said the ANC has a plan to implement land redistribution and chastised critics who feared that their land would be taken away.
“There is a land use plan in the making and the question of land redistribution can never be an ANC decision only. It’s got to be a national decision,” she said.