The ANC Provincial Executive Committee elected in Colesberg in 2017 recently celebrated its first 12 months in office with a media briefing of a special kind. As a first in the province for the governing party, it convened an interactive media gathering by presenting its view on its 360 days in office and allowing an independent person to provide a critical review. Prof Fitzgerald, a Lecturer at Sol Plaatje University, MK Veteran and ex-government technocrat provided this vital critique.
The esteemed Professor was preceded at the podium by the ANC’s Provincial Chairperson, Dr. Zamani Saul. He presented an overview of the PEC’s (mostly) achievements and shortcomings. As the leader of the ANC in the province, Saul outlined the progress made by the PEC on implementing the, now contested, Colesberg conference’s outcomes. He sketched the so called imperatives and dangers facing the ANC in the province. The former being: building unity; strengthening the relationship between the party and government; fighting corruption; and cadre development.
Saul further defined the threats that the ANC are currently facing since the election of the PEC as being: divisions; thrashing of the ANC’s image and massive socio-economic inequalities.
In his address, Saul asserted that the incumbent leadership has upheld the ANC’s principles and did everything to ensure that the organisation’s image remained unblemished. The PEC’s internal critics who launched a legal dispute challenging the provincial and regional conferences’ legitimacy may differ with Saul’s view. The Provincial Secretary, Deshi Ngxanga was quick to downplay the legal challenge as an absurdity which is funded by individuals known to the ANC. He also spoke of this group’s “vile intentions to try to use the courts to install their own PEC as some form of a business investment.” Zamani Saul contributed the ANC’s 7000 growth in membership over the last year to the PEC’s efforts in building unity, despite what he referred to as a “hectic 12 months.”
In his critique and analysis, Professor Fitzgerald mentioned that the ANC is too much inward focused, which does not bode well for its role as a leader of society. He furthermore cautioned the ANC not to take its eye of the ball in its governance role so as to avoid the anarchy that was witnessed in the North West Province in recent weeks. He disputed that the Province is a “dead duck” and is of the view that “there is a lot of potential; there is so much about the Northern Cape that could be done economically and socially in terms of innovation and job creation.” He went on to say that the “meet and drink” of politics is not about dispensing patronage when a political party gets into power, but to uplift people by driving socio economic development.
Solomon Star questioned Saul about the lack of local ownership of the Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) in light of its recently signed contracts by the Minister of Energy. In his response he indicated that this matter is of concern to the ANC as well as the fact that the economy of the small towns close to where the renewable energy sites are located, seems to boom only during the construction phase. He emphasised that the ANC “need political forthrightness to change the colonial structure of our economy in the province. The growth trajectory that renders the province an extraction point for raw material must come to an end, particularly in the agriculture, mining and alternative energy sectors.” The much talked about expropriation of land without compensation, was also mentioned by Saul when he stated that unless the ANC immediately attend to this issue, the stability of the democratic order cannot be guaranteed.
The Provincial Executive Committee supported President Ramaphosa’s withdrawal of the South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel in wake of the massacre of unarmed Palestinian protestors. The ANC in the Northern Cape further called on Ramaphosa to expel the Israeli ambassador, Lior Keinan. They believe that more direct support of the Palestinians should be forthcoming from Pretoria.
The PEC has appointed a Provincial List Committee in preparation for its Provincial List Conference, which will be held later this year, in September. The ANC believes that it is on the right path on attaining what it termed as an “overwhelming majority victory in 2019”. The PEC is of the view that there is optimism regarding the new leadership and President’s Ramaphosa’s “new dawn.” Saul stated that the opposition parties in the province are “in total disarray and stand no chance against the election machinery of the ANC.”
There is no doubt that the ANC will face its toughest election in 2019, since the dawn of democracy, due to an electorate who is fed up with corruption, a lack of basic service delivery and rising unemployment.