Leadership of the African National Congress have to take personal responsibility for the loss of key metros following the local government elections, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa was giving the eulogy for former sports minister and ambassador to Germany, Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile, who was honoured at the Fort Hare University Sports Complex.
“He was a revolutionary reverend as well as a revolutionary politician. He was a principled political leader,” Ramaphosa said.
He said that Stofile was concerned that the ANC would lose Nelson Mandela Bay in the run-up to the local government elections in August.
“As the results of the local government elections came in, his fears were confirmed. We must recognize, as he did, that unless the African National Congress acts with urgency and determination to correct the flaws that run through the organisation, to address our weaknesses, we place many of the gains of our democratic revolution at risk,” said a stern-faced Ramaphosa.
The ANC lost control of the City of Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg to the DA and a coalition of opposition parties.
In response to the loss, the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the NEC, said the leadership took collective responsibility for the losses.
“We are currently in reflective mode: We are listening, we are reflecting, and we are considering, and I guess I can say we perhaps needed to go beyond saying we take collective responsibility and actually say we take individual and personal responsibility as the leaders of the ANC,” said Ramaphosa.
In a thinly disguised challenge to ANC leadership, which has been criticised for failing in accountability, Ramaphosa told the crowd he, personally, took responsibility for the losses.
“Speaking for myself, as the deputy president of the ANC, I am prepared to say I do take personal and individual responsibility,” he said to sharp applause from the audience that included former president Kgalema Motlante, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, and former finance minister Trevor Manuel.
Ramaphosa said that Stofile had made a significant contribution to democracy in SA, and endorsed the words of earlier speakers who had sharp criticism for the ANC leadership.
“Now at this moment, perhaps more than ever, we need people of high integrity like Reverend Stofile. Like him, we need people who reject the notion that politics is about the promotion of one’s own narrow self-interest,” he said.
“We need people who will not succumb to the temptations of public office; who will not take for themselves what rightfully belongs to the masses.”