When a truck full of freebies in the form of ANC T-shirts and doeks failed to do the trick, ANC deputy president David Mabuza fell short of going on his knees to plead for forgiveness over the ruling party’s failings as hostile Tshwane residents refused to buy into what he was selling — a promise to do better after the 1 November local government elections.
Monday 18 October was the third day in which Mabuza, who has in the past shied away from public gatherings, took to the streets of the embattled Tshwane region in an attempt to woo voters.
While on the campaign trail in Atteridgeville, the deputy president showered the angry residents with party T-shirts and headscarves while pleading with them not to “abandon the ANC”.
Accompanied by ANC Gauteng deputy chairperson Panyaza Lesufi, Mabuza listened as the community members hurled insults at the ruling party, calling it dysfunctional and full of corrupt individuals. Some residents even refused to accept the party’s T-shirts, which have become an integral part of the ANC’s strategy to win over some of the electorate.
One resident told Mabuza that the party had done very little for the people of Tshwane while ANC leaders continued to live lavishly.
Mabuza asked the crowd to give another chance to the ANC, which has been in power since the dawn of democracy in 1994, to prove itself, even as he was grilled over South Africa’s worsening unemployment rate, among other challenges.
The deputy president appeared at a loss for words after one woman refused the offer of an ANC doek and T-shirt, telling Mabuza that she was tired of the ANC’s empty promises.
The party has deployed a considerable portion of its election campaign machinery in the Tshwane region as it continues to be plagued by factional battles and disputes among candidates .
Last week the Mail & Guardian reported that Mabuza had been asked to resolve challenges faced by the Tshwane regional executive committee or disband that structure during a meeting with disgruntled party members.
Recently ANC councillor Tshepo Motaung, was gunned down execution-style in what is believed to be a politically motivated hit related to the party’s candidate selection process. The ward 22 councillor in Mabopane was shot at least 20 times by unknown hitmen.
In 2016, Tshwane was plunged into chaos when ANC members torched buildings and barricaded roads in protest against the party’s choice of mayoral candidate, Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
The government’s security cluster is said to be on high alert in the area in case of further protest action resulting from ANC factional battles.
President Cyril Ramaphosa received a lukewarm reception — with some residents attempting to disrupt his speech — when he headed to Mangaung in the Free State on Monday, armed with little more than promises that the ANC was ready to work harder.
“I see you, but please let’s calm down,” Ramaphosa told the restive crowd, some of whose placards signalled a loss of trust in the ANC.
Ramaphosa thanked the community of Ward 51 in Mangaung for choosing a female candidate when most communities had opted for male ones.
Introducing the candidate to applause from the crowd, Ramaphosa said he did not want to see her embroiled in corruption once elected, but rather to work hard for the community.
“I say to her, when you take this position, you don’t call your family and reward them with jobs. Do not give your friends municipal contracts. Work for the people because they want a municipality that works for them, a municipality that delivers services. Water, sewage … must be delivered,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the ANC was showing leadership by owning up to its past errors.
“We are not afraid and we are not ashamed to share where we have made mistakes. Your municipality will work effectively and efficiently to address the needs of our people,” he said, adding that the national government was also working tirelessly to resolve the twin challenges of unemployment and poverty.
Ramaphosa added that the government had also extended the Covid-19 social relief grant so that people hardest hit by the pandemic did not starve.