Durban - DA leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Zwakele Mncwango, has waded into the debate sparked by ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, that those sent for leadership programmes in the US were part of regime change.
Mncwango, who had been part of the leadership programme along with other youth leaders in the DA, said the claims by Mantashe were far from the truth.
“We were never taught about regime change. In fact, all I am doing now is to plough back what I was taught there,” he said.
Mantashe caused a stir last Friday when he told thousands at a march at the Union Buildings in Pretoria about a ”programme that takes young people to the US for six weeks, brings them back and plants them in the campuses and everywhere”.
He had said there were meetings held regularly at the American embassy to mobilise for regime change.
“Those meetings in the American embassy are about nothing else other than mobilisation for regime change,” Mantashe said.
In his response, American ambassador Patrick Gaspard had said people shouldn’t blame others for their own challenges. Gaspard also said Mantashe was aware of the programme because he personally invited him to recommend young ANC leaders for it.
Mncwango said the leadership programme taught young leaders about democracy, which was something the ANC did not approve of.
“The ANC is happy to have people who do not understand democracy,” he said.
Mncwango made these comments after he visited communities in Durban informal settlements on Sunday.
During a visit to the shacks, elderly resident, Mavis Ndlovu, was less interested in Mncwango’s campaign, instead she wanted to find out why she didn’t have a low-cost house.
Ndlovu, aged 81, told him she wanted only a proper house before she died.
Mncwango said one of the problems in the country’s politics was that people often did not understand how democracy worked.
“There is a need to educate people about democracy. The challenge we have is that we have people who vote for the ANC because they don’t understand the power of a vote,” he said.
“It is up to us, as political parties, to educate the people about the power of a vote, to make them understand the vote is not permanent and that if you fail to deliver, they can vote for another party.”
Mncwango also said while communities would complain about the governing party, they did not hesitate to vote for it during the elections.
“They would complain about the ANC imposing a candidate on them, but they would not have a problem to vote for it at the elections. That clearly shows they lack understanding of democracy.”
He made examples about instances where communities were unhappy with candidate nomination processes of the ruling party, only for them to protest and fail to express their anger with a vote at the municipal polls.
Mncwango said it was important for people realise that municipal elections were not only about the political party, but also as much about the candidates as well.