Ramaphosa wants ANC to go back to the people

“The best way to move forward is that we need a mixed leadership. A leadership with different perspectives,” Cyril Ramaphosa said. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

“The best way to move forward is that we need a mixed leadership. A leadership with different perspectives,” Cyril Ramaphosa said. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed to ANC members to go back to basics and reconnect with ordinary people on the ground to ensure the party achieves a decisive victory in the 2019 elections.

He has also called on party members to set aside factional differences for the sake of the organisation’s unity.

Ramaphosa was delivering the closing address at the ANC’s Limpopo provincial conference on Sunday.

“As we leave this conference we must head back to our communities with a new determination to obliterate the trust deficit that developed over the many years between the ANC and the people,” Ramaphosa said.

“The success of the Thuma Mina campaign lies with our branches.
This is because they are the first immediate point of contact with our people,” he added.

Following its decreased performance in the 2016 municipal elections, the ANC acknowledged that voters had punished it at the polls due to a “perception” of arrogance by the organisation’s leaders. Since then the party has on many occasions called for reconnection with its voter base, without a tangible programme of how to do so.

Several surveys conducted by the ANC-led alliance have shown that social distance between the ANC and ordinary people was one of the main reasons behind the party’s electoral decline.

READ MORE: Mr Thuma Mina winning over the ANC

Part of the perceived social distance is a criticism that ANC councillors sometimes opt to relocate from their communities to more affluent areas once they are elected to powerful positions and fail to properly service the needs of those communities.

Earlier this year Ramaphosa launched his “Thuma Mina” campaign targeted at mobilising ANC members to address basic service issues in communities. The popular slogan is now being used by the ANC to canvass support ahead of the 2019 elections.

Ramaphosa said part of the ANC’s reconnection would also involve strengthening the state of the alliance, by heeding the South African Communist Party’s (SACP) calls for a reconfigured alliance.

“We will approach those discussions with the sole purpose of making sure that the alliance becomes a fighting alliance. That it becomes an alliance of equal partners as led unmistakably by the ANC,” he said.

Since the party’s 2017 national elective conference, the call for unity has become a recurring theme at many of its gatherings, as it tries to mend the rifts left by opposing factions in the leadership race.

Despite a national leadership being elected, factional divides continue to plague the organisation and have been visible at the provincial level where conferences are still being held.

Ramaphosa emphasised the need for a “leadership mix” similar to the one elected at the ANC national conference at Nasrec, to accommodate a multitude of views within the party, while maintaining the unity of the organisation.

He praised the ANC in Limpopo for electing a leadership collective that represented multiple views in the party.

“The best way to move forward is that we need a mixed leadership. A leadership with different perspectives,” he said. “A leadership with different perspectives is a leadership that is finding its way around unity. We are becoming more and more united.”

The three-day provincial conference which saw Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha re-elected as chairperson was characterised by court challenges and registration delays. Mathabata was elected unopposed after controversial musician Penny Penny, who was vying for the same position, failed to make the threshold.

The conference also elected controversial Vhembe Mayor Florence Radzilani as Mathabatha deputy.

Soviet Lekganyane bounced back to the province’s second most powerful position after he defeated former youth leader Lehlogonolo Masoga, for the position of provincial secretary. Former Mopani regional secretary Makamu Basikopo was elected deputy secretary while treasurer Daniel Msiza was reelected to his position.

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