ANC sends warning over South Africa’s major economic hub

African National Congress (ANC) national chairperson Gwede Mantashe has warned over the ruling party’s potential loss of Gauteng in 2024, with the party’s top figures concerned that the threat of losing the country’s economic hub is real.

Speaking at the Gauteng conference in Benoni, Mantashe said that declining trust in the ANC led to supporters shunning the polls, News24 reported. This was evident in the 2021 municipal election results.

“Our support has declined dramatically. In all the three metros in Gauteng, we have fallen to below 40%, and it is quite an issue and a challenge we need to focus on. So, if the conference does not focus on that and it focuses on just elections, we must know that we are going to have a problem. But if it gives 10% to elections and the rest to the challenges facing the ANC, we will be better off, and we may recover in 2024.

“We were below 50% in 2021. If we do not do something dramatic, we are going to be in trouble.”

These concerns were echoed by the province’s premier David Makhura who said that the ANC has become “a self-absorbed organization, at war with itself, that focused on things that don’t matter fundamentally”.

“We must confront these fundamental issues; we must not lie to ourselves. We have disappointed people, our core support base of the ANC, people in our townships,” he said.

Cadre deployment

The political party has come under intense scrutiny for its role in state capture. Chief justice Raymond Zondo, who headed a probe into state capture and submitted his final set of findings this week, recommended the prosecutions of scores of officials within the party ranging from former heads of state companies to government ministers, Bloomberg reported.

He also recommended an overhaul of appointment processes and managerial controls.

Zondo expressed little confidence that the ANC can redeem itself after it presided over a period in which the average South African became poorer, the power and rail utilities and other state companies neared collapse, and the country ultimately lost its investment-grade credit ratings, Bloomberg said.

“For as long as the ANC is in power, the failure of the ANC to successfully reform and renew itself as undertaken by president Ramaphosa will render the South African state unable to rid itself of the scourge of state capture and corruption,” he said.

“The ANC is engaging with the findings and recommendations of the commission to determine how these can help to enhance the process of fundamental renewal and rebuilding within our movement,” the ANC said in response this week.

Mantashe meanwhile, slammed the findings of chief justice Zondo on cadre deployment in his report. Zondo said that the ANC’s cadre deployment policy is unlawful and unconstitutional.

Mantashe said without that policy, apartheid officials would still be in charge of the state, adding that the finding is that of a commission and not a court.

Elections looming

With national elections scheduled for 2024, the findings have cast the ANC and its popular leader, president Cyril Ramaphosa, in a poor light, said Bloomberg.

“The ANC and its leaders stand accused of corruption,” Ramaphosa wrote in an August 2020 letter to party members that formed part of the evidence presented to the commission. “The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as Accused No. 1.”

Yet Ramaphosa and the ANC, both during Zuma’s rule and after he resigned in February 2018, have done little to tackle corruption within the party’s ranks, Zondo said. He held the party responsible for keeping Zuma in office and therefore for the looting of “billions of rands of taxpayers’ money.”

“There were multiple ‘warning signs’ in the public domain, which the ANC did not act on in any meaningful way for at least five years,” Zondo wrote. “There was arguably, at least, a knowing abdication of responsibility.”

Now Ramaphosa and the ANC face an uphill battle to convince a skeptical public that the corrupt will be brought to account and that they can fix the damage wrought during the Zuma years, Bloomberg said.

There have been scant signs of progress so far — power cuts have worsened, municipalities have run out of money and the private sector is taking it upon itself to build power plants, guard key transport routes and fulfill other functions previously carried out by the state, it said.

  • Reporting with Bloomberg

Read: South African taxpayers pay R12 million for government officials to sit at home

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ANC sends warning over South Africa’s major economic hub