Johannesburg - A move by two senior ANC members to campaign for a no vote against the ANC and President Jacob Zuma faces stiff opposition within the party.
In an unprecedented move, former minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge have asked South Africans to take a stand against fraud and corruption by spoiling their votes.
However, ANC struggle veterans and loyalists have dismissed the anti-ANC voting campaign pushed by the two, saying they are “disillusioned, disgruntled and bitter”.
All eyes have been on the former intelligence and deputy health ministers as they garner support for “Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote No” campaign, due to be launched at Wits University on Tuesday.
The aim of the campaign is to get struggle activists and others not to vote for the ruling party – or at least to spoil their ballots on May 7.
The campaign, they say, is protesting against corruption and current government policies.
Aside from Kasrils and Madlala-Routledge, the campaign is being endorsed by former deputy-director general of Environmental Affairs Horst Kleinschmidt, grassroots activists such as Vishwas Satgar, former Truth and Reconciliation Commission research head Charles Villa-Vicencio and former Cosatu media head, Dirk Hartford among others.
On Saturday night ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said if Kasrils was campaigning for spoilt votes, all he could do was to wish him luck.
“We are out here campaigning for people to vote for the ANC. If he is campaigning for the spoiling of votes, all I can do is to wish him luck,” said Mantashe. Mantashe did not respond to whether he was surprised that a senior member like Kasrils was campaigning against the ANC.
However, many ANC members were more vocal than Mantashe about the campaign.
Former Home Affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang said he was not part of Sidikiwe and that he would not do what those involved were doing. “Whatever deficiencies that exist within the ANC should be fixed,” said Msimang, the longest-serving ANC president OR Tambo’s former secretary.
Msimang, an uMkhonto weSizwe veteran, member of its high command and part of the historical Wankie campaign with Chris Hani, among others, has lately been critical of the ruling party and recently wrote that “there is a crisis within the ANC”.
Executive director of Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada’s foundation, Neeshan Balton, said the ANC veteran was not part of the campaign. Kathrada’s fellow Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni declined to comment.
Former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa disagreed with the Sidikiwe campaign, saying they made a weak case.
“The ANC deserves a further mandate, I call on South Africans, black and white, to vote for the ANC in their millions and millions,” Phosa said.
Phosa added: “I stand totally opposed to all forms of corruption and I believe the ANC will root out this scourge”.
Langa Dube, the great grandson of ANC founder John Dube, was fiercely opposed to the move.
“The initiators of this campaign are wrong. It’s everybody’s right to cast their vote, democratic right. They’re spreading a bad omen at an auspicious time when we’re marking 20 years of democracy. These people have old political scores, they’re disgruntled their expressing their own anger and unhappiness. But if they have issues with the president, then they must raise those issues within the ANC,” he said.
Psychologist and anti-Apartheid activist, Dr Saths Cooper described the movement as an “irresponsible call”.
“These former cabinet ministers should have the guts to take this up in their party and not try to confuse people out there ahead of what is perhaps one of the most important elections after our first election.
“They should be raising the issues within, for crying out loud.
“They should be drumming up support in the branches, which is the right thing to do, rather than come out this way.”
MK soldier Sunny Singh said: “Ronnie Kasrils and Nozizwe are old members of the ANC, the position they are taking is a wrong and foolhardy one, I believe.”
“No one with rational mind would go that route. We fought of our democracy. Today people with such an honour are free to take such a position, but it’s a very disappointing one. I totally disagree. I’m very disturbed.”
Speaking to The Sunday Independent this week, Kasrils said the campaign was aimed mostly at people who have been loyal to the ANC and have been supporting the party throughout.
Kasrils said there were many people in the party who were unhappy with what was happening within the ANC, and would like to see it doing better.
Madlala-Routledge said despite opposition and criticism from ANC stalwarts, the campaign to spoil votes was fast gaining support.
“The main thing is for people to come out in their numbers and to use their right for which we fought and died. In the absence of a credible party in terms of addressing the core needs of our country and addressing the issues of inequality, poverty and unemployment, we’re calling on people to either spoil the ballot or vote tactically. A tactical vote is a vote for any one of the minority parties, with the aim to reduce the majority of the dominant party.”
In 2007 Madlala-Routledge was fired for her inability to work as part of the “collective” and for undertaking a trip against then President Thabo Mbeki’s orders.
Madlala-Routledge said the time to speak out had come.
“We understand there’s internal democracy. We’ve been there, but there’s a point at which you realise you’re frustrated and something needs to be done because no one is following what we’re supposed to be doing in terms of our own constitution.”
Madlala-Routledge said the decline of voters since 1994 meant that many had decided to boycott the election.