Having brooded over its failure in most of the country’s controversial cities in the 2016 local government election, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has chosen to lift the blame from its leader President Jacob Zuma by saying he is not to blame for the party’s misfortune.
The ruling party took to President Zuma’s defence once again after clear evidence that his unpopularity among voters led to the party’s massive decline in support.
This decision was made after four days of the party’s deep self-examination. After a sudden rise in the call for Zuma’s exit as the leader of the party and the president of South Africa.
It is however believed that the party’s decision to rally round Zuma will have far-reaching consequences for ANC’s ability to win back lost voters, especially in major cities like Gauteng.
it will also affect its fate in the attempt to form municipal coalition governments as several smaller parties have Zuma’s resignation as a precondition to an alliance.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday that the party had agreed to take collective responsibility for the 54% electoral result in the 2011 polls, a decline of eight percentage points over five years.
When asked repeatedly about the fate of the “elephant in the room”, a term that has become a popular reference to Zuma, Mantashe said Zuma’s leadership had not been raised in the meeting.
“There has been a negative narrative around a number of issues … there was no proposal that the president step down,” Mantashe said, adding that the 27 hung municipalities where the ANC failed to achieve an outright majority dominated its attention, particularly the metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.
According to him also, the ANC had decided to take urgent steps to reverse the negative trend and would hence forth, be taking collective responsibility for what went wrong and re-energise party structures to ensure that they moved away from the perception of being arrogant, self-serving, corrupt and distant from the party’s voter base.
He said the party would, in particular, take “action against all who were involved” in the case of councillors manipulating councillor list processes and urgent measures would be taken to “rid the movement of factionalism across the ANC, including within the NEC itself”.
The ruling ANC also plans to also cooperate with other parties that share the ANC’s agenda of social transformation and immediately organize training of councillors to ensure that they “lead our councillors in the interests of the people … with integrity”. The ANC has resolved to put in place mechanisms to monitor service delivery.
“Although these were local elections, some national issues dominated the elections.”
“They would bring stability to state-owned companies “such as SAA, the SABC and Eskom. Relevant government deployees are expected to report on these matters at the next NEC meeting.”
Meanwhile, the EFF’s executive committee will on Monday night meet to finally decide on its coalition strategy and possible partners, but an announcement is expected only on Wednesday as the party will be involved with the commemoration of the Marikana killings on Tuesday.
The meeting seems to be crucial as smaller parties which are scheduled to meet on Monday morning, have also included the resignation of Zuma among their preconditions for an alliance with the ANC.
Mantashe however noted that to rid society of the “cancer of corruption”, the ANC would accelerate a programme to fight corruption in this regard. He also said youth programmes would be strengthened.