The author of this article is a respected ANC member of 22 years’ standing; took part in the arms struggle; serves loyally on many bodies and committees; and is active in the structures. He wishes to remain anonymous at this time.
First published on JEF
Plettenberg Bay. 20 March 2013. 20h30. I regard myself as an ardent member and follower of the ANC and it is not very easy for me to deliver this critique of the movement that I so dearly respect and love.
The history of the ANC is engraved in the lives of millions of people in this country and beyond its borders. I have great regard and admiration for all those comrades, known and unknown, who have sacrificed their lives, careers and families to fight for the freedoms we are currently enjoying in the country.
We have come a long way since the establishment of the African National Congress by those noble founding fathers who had the vision to establish a non-racial and democratic South Africa. I am mindful of the fact that after the first democratic elections in 1994, the circumstances in which the movement is operating have changed and that the ANC is now the governing party with a clear mandate after four national elections and can dramatically change the lives of all our people. Democracy brought with it its own challenges and many of our comrades saw and still see the new order as an opportunity to advance themselves, which is of course not a wrong thing in itself, but in many instances it is at the expense of the people they are supposed to serve.
In this piece I am not going to reflect on the national discourse but want to zoom-in in the regional situation.
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Between the 1994 general elections and the 2009 elections the South Cape/Klein Karoo region was one of strongest regions in the Western Cape. The REC was well organised with a secretary, who was regarded as the engine of the organisation, playing an important role in keeping the organisation together and empowering councillors at the various municipalities. The REC played a pivotal role in how councillors conducted themselves as representatives of the people. We had, for example, fully functional branches with clear programmes of action in all the different towns. There were of course exceptions and problem areas in every town, but the movement was operating in a very coherent manner. Councillors were exercising their responsibilities through clear mandates from their different branches. Those were days of branch member meetings, branch executive meetings, monthly public meetings, mandatory forum meetings and proper caucus meetings. It is very difficult these days to establish where our councillors are getting their mandates from to speak on our behalf at council meetings.
It is very disturbing to find that branch meetings are only called when new leadership must be elected or when delegates must be nominated to attend national, provincial and regional conferences. There are no political discussions in our branch meetings. There are no planned actions which set out the road map for every branch in a particular area. These deficiencies create the opportunity for comrades to sow divisions and cause the breakdown of the effective functioning of the branch. We have seen in the last couple of years that the opposition is slowly but surely moving into our strongholds because of the divisions and non-functioning of our branches. Branches must be relevant in the different wards where they are supposed to be operating but there is currently no leadership that can guide them to perform optimally.
The ANC in coalition with smaller parties is in control in Kannaland and Oudtshoorn municipalities. We have simply failed the people of Oudtshoorn and Kannaland. The calibre of councillors that we have deployed in these municipalities leaves much to be desired. The appointment of the municipal manager in Oudtshoorn during December 2011 has damaged the reputation of the ANC in Oudtshoorn and in the Western Cape. I for one cannot understand what politically influenced the REC and the PEC to push the Oudtshoorn councillors to appoint the person they have appointed as municipal manager ahead of another comrade who is more experienced and better qualified. We are simply ignoring the legislation that we have put in place on national level by sidestepping tender procedures and appointment procedures.
In the municipalities where we are in the opposition we are struggling to expose the corrupt practices of the Democratic Alliance. We are simply unable to use the media, and section 9 institutions (Public Protector and Auditor General) to expose the DA. The current scandal surrounding the Executive Mayor of Eden District Municipality is a case in point. The ANC never raised the matter in the media although the forensic report is in the public domain and the recommendations therein point to criminal behaviour on the part of Wessie van der Westhuisen and Gert Niehaus. Yet the ANC failed to lay criminal charges against these two DA functionaries.
We need to come up with a clear strategy on how we can make the ANC more relevant in the 21st Century. We need a renewal of this organisation if we want to remain relevant for the next 100 years. We need committed cadres who are there to serve and not be served.
DREWAN BAIRD COMMUNICATION – Sensaytional – 076 349 6316
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