Cape Town - The Western Cape ANC wants to recruit 5 000 volunteers with the sole purpose of unseating the DA provincial government.
The party hopes to enlist activists, retirees, unemployed graduates and others to work full-time for a year to ensure an electoral victory in 2014. They will not be paid.
ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman said volunteers would be recruited by April.
“We want these volunteers to take a sabbatical and give their full time to the ANC for 12 months,” Fransman said on the sidelines of the ANC’s 101-year celebrations in Philippi on Sunday.
“We have lots stacked against us, but it’s possible.”
The ANC used the celebrations, attended by 1 200 supporters, including national party heavyweights, to kick off its campaign to take back the province.
Fransman acknowledged the ANC was facing an uphill battle against a well-organised DA.
The party has suffered a dramatic decline in support at the ballot box since 2004. In April 2009, the ANC secured only 31.5 percent of the vote and the DA 51.4 percent. The number of ANC votes dropped by 88 134, from 709 052 in 2004 to 620 918.
The DA more than doubled its support, securing more than a million votes in 2009, compared with 424 832 in 2004.
“We are up against big capital, the provincial government and the city,” Fransman said.
“But the ANC will fight street by street, community by community, area by area to win back the Western Cape.”
Fransman said the party planned to recruit volunteers from all spheres of society.
“We will get activists, non-governmental organisations, communication specialists, undergraduates who are unemployed, especially engineers, and business people to help us.”
Among the people welcomed at Sunday’s celebrations were taxi bosses from the Congress for Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata).
Fransman said the partywould get involved in every community gripe, mobilise the poor and support workers.
“We must reconnect with communities and grow our membership. Every party leader must recruit new members. If you don’t sign up new members you are out,” he said.
Fransman claimed his party could grow by 12 000 in the next few months. Membership of the ANC in the Western Cape has declined from 43 000 in 2011 to 38 000 last year.
He believed the only way to attract more members was if the province showed a united front.
The provincial ANC has been dogged by infighting. In the lead-up to its national conference in Mangaung last month, half of the ANC in the province supported Jacob Zuma for a second term as party president and the rest supported Kgalema Motlanthe.
National chairwoman Baleka Mbete told ANC supporters that questions lingered about whether the party was united after Mangaung.
“We are supposed to unite the people of South Africa. We cannot do that if we are not united,” Mbete said at the celebrations.
“There is money moving around, buying support for a particular faction. (This) is not ANC culture. The ANC is the movement of the people and we have to remember that the people are watching. They are watching how we behave.”
Mbete said branches should be the starting point for the growth the party wanted to achieve in its structures. This included recruiting more members, young people in particular.
ANC Dullar Omar region chairman Xolani Sotashe said branches should accept the outcome of the Mangaung conference, regardless of whether they had supported Zuma or Motlanthe.
“We must rally behind that leadership led by President Zuma. We must unite. If we are not united, then we must kiss everything goodbye. We must go back to the basics, we don’t need side shows,” Sotashe said.
“We must win back the province. (The Western Cape) must not continue to be the laughing stock of the country.”
The ANC in the province has established a permanent nerve centre to plan for the elections.
DA provincial deputy leader Theuns Botha dismissed the ANC’s plans as wishful thinking.
“It is fine if the ANC wants to recruit 5 000 volunteers, we’ll carry on with our 25 000 volunteers,” he said.