/ 3 May 2024

Former Gauteng premier Tokyo Sexwale called to bolster ANC election campaign

Tokyo Sexwale Detained In New York
The Gauteng ANC, in a bid to raise its paltry 2019 numbers, has approached former provincial premier Tokyo Sexwale to strengthen its campaign for the upcoming elections.

The Gauteng ANC, in a bid to raise its paltry 2019 numbers, has approached former provincial premier Tokyo Sexwale to strengthen its campaign for the upcoming elections.

The party has already deployed former president Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe to campaign for the party in a bid to retain their majority in the province. 

Speaking to Mail & Guardian on Tuesday after the Ekurhuleni State of the City address, ANC Gauteng chairperson Panyaza Lesufi said people would see the machinery of the governing party in the days leading to the 29 May national and provincial elections. 

“It’s 32 days to go, we will surprise you. Write us off at your own parallel,” he said.

Lesufi added that the campaign of the ANC was in phases, saying former party and state deputy president David Mabuza would also bolster the provincial push in addition to Sexwale.

“So you will see all these faces because you have to keep the campaign interesting all the time,” he said.

“If we didn’t put Thabo Mbeki, will you still be interested in the ANC campaign, so it has its phases to ensure that it is relevant, to ensure it has interest and it has following.”

Lesufi, who is also Gauteng premier, was alluding to the Mbeki campaigning for the ANC in Soweto, Gauteng and the country’s biggest township. It was Mbeki’s first time electoral work for the party since 2007, owing to his sour relationship with former president Jacob Zuma.

South Africa’s second democratically-elected president told journalists in Soweto that people would see a lot of him on the campaign trail, but this did not mean he had put aside the concerns he raised about the ANC before.

“I came to Jabulani to ask the people of Soweto to vote for the ANC on 29 May. I have not been in Soweto for a long time but I think the response is very good. We will come here again because I think it is important that we should return the ANC to power,” he said.

“I know there are many problems within the country, even problems within the ANC. As we say vote ANC, we are saying we will attend to the problems within the ANC itself to make sure it is able to discharge the responsibilities of the population.”

The governing party narrowly won the province by 50.19% in 2019 which was a dip from the 2014 results which saw them amass 53.59% share of the votes.

Without providing any proof for his assertions, Gauteng ANC spokesperson Lesego Makhubela claimed its internal polls predicted that the party would win the province by between 55% and 62% of the votes.

Speaking to the M&G this week, Makhubela accused the Democratic Alliance and ActionSA of “cooking” the polls revealing that the ANC would lose its majority in the province.

In an interview with M&G last month, DA leader John Steenhuisen admitted that John van Der Berg, who is the managing partner of Victory Research, one of the polling companies that have predicted that the ANC will not win the election outright, was working for the DA and was doing the party’s polling.

Makhubela said: “We are happy that the DA and ActionSA are exposing each other about how they are working and colluding…to cook the surveys and the polls in order to run propaganda and prepare the electorate for something that will never happen —- that the ANC will lose power.”

Opposition parties have also accused the ANC of using government resources for electioneering by using the Nasi Ispani initiative —- Lesufi’s jobs creation drive where thousands of young people have been absorbed into the provincial government — to lure voters for the upcoming election.

But Makhubela said the jobs drive was part of listening to voters’ concerns about unemployment, including more than a month without the country experiencing rolling Eskom blackouts that have become a feature pf daily life for over a decade. 

“They told us even before elections that we need to fix Eskom and that is why we sent the most capable [people] to go and deal with the Eskom issue and that is why when we speak now, load shedding is a thing of the past,” he said.

With new players like ActionSA, Umkhonto weSizwe Party and Patriotic Alliance expected to have their own say in Gauteng, the ANC seems to be leaving nothing to chance by calling on its big guns to campaign for the party.

On Sexwale’s recruitment, Makhubela called the former provincial premier a “towering giant of the revolution”, adding that Sexwale was known across Gauteng. 

Speaking to M&G on Thursday Makhubela said Sexwale was the first premier of Gauteng, a towering giant of their revolution and one of the most respected citizens of the province.

“It means the towering stalwarts of the ANC have come to endorse the renewal of the ANC and have come to show confidence in the campaign of the ANC,” Makhubela said.

He added that Sexwale would be deployed to the squatter camps, affluent suburbs, the farm part of the province, among other campaign stops.

“There is no specific target. He will be speaking to every person who is eligible to vote and those who are not eligible to vote.”