Premier Bushy Maape must resist the temptation to stand for nomination as chairperson of the ANC in North West. The tarot cards, at least the political ones, suggest that he should do the honourable thing, instead, and focus on delivering services to the people of the province.
At a time when the needs of the people have gathered momentum, adding another string to his bow, in terms of the regional ANC chairmanship, will only cast him as power hungry. The Accelerated Service Delivery Plan hasn’t fully kicked in for him to want another responsibility.
The province has a lagoon full to bursting with service delivery backlogs. The debt of service delivery is overdue, and the premier can’t avoid it by padding. His immediate responsibility is the government. His quest for more power is tantamount to moonlighting. This means he will be working for the government and moonlighting for the organisation because his time won’t be divided equally between the two.
The people are anxious because service delivery has stalled. The ANC needs to get things right with a leader focused on service delivery rather than a leader torn between the organisation and government. This move will significantly affect the economic and societal conditions of the province.
The people want potholes fixed especially in Mahikeng, Lichtenburg, Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp and Rustenburg, arguably the economic nerve centres of the province. Against this background of challenges, it would be amiss for Maape to even have a passing interest in the chairmanship position.
The quest for total power by any means will put the organisation at risk for the following reasons. The virtue of the organisation will remain negotiable. The forces of chaos will come bearing a bottomless pool of resources to take over what is left of the organisation. The fact that Maape was recruited onto a slate will undermine or dilute the interventions of his office in terms of service delivery.
Effectively, Maape wants to be more powerful than the organisation just like the previous ANC leaders. This means he won’t be accountable to anyone but himself.
I’m not contesting Maape’s impeccable political credentials. His credentials are not on trial. I’m just giving him brotherly advice. He won’t have the time to attend to ANC branch disputes and deliver on his mandate in government.
My experience is that Maape may try to purge me like Mao Zedong did with the Hundred Flowers Campaign and my predictions after the conference is that he may also try to purge MECs who challenged his slate. But I don’t think Maape went to Robben Island for that.
He should be able to be open to brotherly advice and counsel. If he becomes a chairman of the organisation and a leader in government, the move can upset the balance of either side and further disenfranchise the people.
Maape does not need additional responsibilities. He doesn’t have an hour to spare to canvass for the organisation. That the ANC has not elected a provincial executive committee since the previous one was disbanded in 2018 and is only doing it now, shouldn’t make him lose sleep over his political life. True greatness doesn’t come by acquiring more power or flaunting it.
The quest for more power encourages the “messiah” persona — the idea that the province can be saved by the creation of a personality cult. Maape needs to maintain a Zen-like, still mindset and deliver on the provincial government’s priority areas. He must ensure that jobs are created, that there are good roads, proper infrastructure and clean water.
There are a fair few in the ANC who can take up the position of chairperson so that the work of the organisation is given top priority. Priority for the leader of the organisation is the organisation. In these economically constrained days, where the idea is to resuscitate the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic, a leader torn between responsibilities will be counter to the province’s priority areas being seeen to.
Maape must be a good servant. His mind must be occupied by the will of the people and service delivery. The branches are correct for not nominating him. He has no time to canvass and run the ANC which must prepare for 2024 elections so that the organisation can regain its position and deliver on the promises made. The Accelerated Service Delivery Plan alone is enough to occupy his time.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.