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We will do better, ANC president Ramaphosa says in corrective manifesto

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the party manifesto on Monday evening, admitting that the party had not always done what it was meant to, and pledging to do better while pleading for votes. 

Much like the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance, the ANC produced a simpler manifesto document than in the past; one that spoke to the party’s gains and commitments for the next five years. Ramaphosa made several promises, including reducing the levels of unemployment, and increasing the electrification of housing and social security. 

Ramaphosa brought out the big guns: he was flanked by former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe in Tshwane’s Church Square, just metres away from the palace of justice. 

The two former ANC leaders had stayed away from party events during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure. 

When asked whether the ANC’s manifesto signalled that the party had renewed itself, Mbeki said, “Not yet”, but added that he was happy with the manifesto. “The commitments made are the correct ones,” he said. 

Protest for jobs

The ANC barricaded the inner gardens of Church Square in an attempt to contain the number of supporters, however, the party failed to adhere to its own regulation of containing big gatherings to 500 people.

Meanwhile, some ANC supporters who were restricted to watching Ramaphosa outside the barrier protested, demanding jobs and housing security from the party. 

Shortly before the manifesto launch, police clashed with the crowd and formed a human chain as the members of the crowd attempted to force their way into the barricaded area. 

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe had to calm the small group of protesters, who were demanding to speak to the ANC leaders to air their grievances. 

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, however, took a different approach to people demanding jobs from the party during the manifesto launch. 

When Ramaphosa was handed a placard by supporters asking for jobs, Mantashe blamed the people of Tshwane for voting for the DA. 

“That is the problem I am having: you go to a public meeting, you give people a chance;  then they shout at you, they shout you down. You have given the DA the right to govern here for five years and we say: 1 November you all go out and vote in numbers, you bring back the ANC government so that you have the right to tell the ANC that these things are wrong,” Mantashe said.

In his speech, Ramaphosa admitted that the ANC had not always put the best people in positions of responsibility, adding that the party has been slow to act when its public representatives and leaders committed wrongdoing and abused their positions. 

In the two years since the ANC was given a clear mandate to renew and rebuild, we have been fighting to restore our movement and remove the obstacles to progress towards a better South Africa, Ramaphosa said. 

He told Tshwane residents that even during the Covid-19 global health emergency, the ANC government is reforming the economy and creating opportunities.

Eskom

In the past year alone, Ramaphosa said the government has implemented a massive public employment programme and undertaken far-reaching reforms in the electricity sector, which will significantly expand South Africa’s generation capacity and mobilise new investment.

“That is why, working with national and provincial governments, we are going to improve the maintenance of water and sewerage infrastructure and reduce water leaks. We will ensure that all poor households receive the free basic water allocation to which they are entitled. Thanks to the ANC, around 85% of South African households have access to electricity,” he said. 

The ANC president promised that his government would significantly increase the role of renewable energy through a just energy transition that creates new economic opportunities for workers and communities. 

He pledged that the government would reduce the time that households wait for new electricity connections and invest in the infrastructure that municipalities need to supply homes and businesses. 

Land and jobs 

The ANC also pledged to release more hectares of land to citizens, saying it will continue to upgrade informal settlements and change municipal zoning practices to better integrate housing, recreation facilities and economic opportunities. 

“Our priority must be to create opportunities for young people as first-time entrants into the jobs market at a much faster rate,”  Ramaphosa said.

He told attendees that the ANC intended to ensure that skills development programmes are more closely aligned to job opportunities and economic development programmes in communities. 

“The ANC will amend or repeal restrictive by-laws on trading, land use, urban production of crops and other regulations that prevent people from earning a living. We will reduce or remove the licence fees that many small and informal businesses have to pay to ply their trade,” he said. 

Ramaphosa also promised that the ANC would continue to provide special Covid-19 grants and various support measures for workers and businesses. 

Through its district development model, the government is successfully bringing all three spheres of government together to plan better, budget and monitor implementation of our programmes, he said. 

Stamping out corruption

The ANC has been undertaking a two-year, clean-up campaign within its ranks in an attempt to rid itself of corruption. 

For years, the office of the auditor general has highlighted the shortcomings at municipalities. Yet, this financial year, municipalities have not even mastered the basics of financial reporting, with only 28% being able to submit quality financial statements for audit purposes.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the cost of financial reporting amounted to more than R5-billion, based only on the salary cost of finance units and the cost of financial reporting consultants, which accounts for 18% of the total cost. However, according to the report released in June, only 2% of municipalities used consultants to bridge the vacancy gap; others paid consultants even though their finance units are well capacitated.

Auditor general Tsakani Maluleke said most of the 257 municipalities in the country have regressed, squandered money, or have not been able to account for or report on how expenditure budgets of R719-billion in the 2019-20 financial year have been spent. 

Maluleke said that the situation is so dire there is significant doubt that the municipalities will continue operating as a going concern in the near future.

Ramaphosa pledged that the party would subject all representatives and officials who fail to behave appropriately in fulfilling their roles, to disciplinary action or other corrective measures. 

He added that, when necessary, people will be removed from their positions. 

“Where there is evidence that a crime has been committed, the matter will be referred to law enforcement. We pledge to act speedily against officials conducting business with municipalities and against those implicated in maladministration,” Ramaphosa said.  

“Within our own ranks, the ANC will continue to apply the ‘step-aside’ rule for any members that have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes. Any ANC member facing allegations of wrongdoing must appear before the ANC integrity commission to explain themselves.” 

Taking a page out of the EFF’s book, the ANC vowed to put an end to outsourcing, which Ramaphosa said weakens the ability of municipalities to fulfil their basic functions and creates more room for corruption and malfeasance.

‘Vote for the ANC’ 

In an attempt to appeal to Tshwane residents to vote for the ANC, Ramaphosa said communities had turned their back on the ANC in 2016 and voted for the DA, however, this had resulted in poor service delivery. 

He cited examples of communities in Atteridgeville, Laudium and Hammanskraal, which have faced long periods without water. 

Just last week, water in Laudium and Atteridgeville was cut off for nearly eight days, he said, adding that this meant more families could not wash, cook or flush their toilets.

“In many areas of this city, rubbish is not collected regularly and lies in huge dumps, attracting flies and rats. Informal settlements have not been upgraded and the city has failed to make land available so that residents can access serviced stands and move out of inhumane settlements on dolomitic land. Throughout the city, infrastructure funds are diverted while residents living in coloured, Indian and African communities face burst pipes, overflowing sewage, roads filled with potholes and dilapidated parks and sports facilities,” Ramaphosa said. 

“Informal traders attempting to make an honest living are harassed and intimidated. And so, we come to you today, and call on you to come out and vote for the ANC so that we can again govern here in Tshwane and in many other towns and cities,” he said, blaming the DA for service delivery challenges. 

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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