Overall delivery of promises will be the final test upon which the success and failure of the ANC will rest, writes Thami ka Plaatjie.
Johannesburg - The new cabinet will reflect President Jacob Zuma’s determination to leave a lasting legacy of success and better service delivery. The many service delivery protests before the national elections were of concern to his office and his first term.
The ANC was equally worried about the extent to which our communities continued to have to fight to access the goods and services that the government promised them. The poor and often marginalised communities form the backbone and citadel of the ANC during elections. They are the focal point of the ANC’s existence. A pro-poor posture and policy choices will see greater relief and eradication of poverty and its causes. rampant youth unemployment and lack of skills will require far more creative intervention to supplement initiatives.
The election results and appointment of premiers bespeak the realisation of the ANC that greater work needs to be done at local level. The threat to Gauteng must be seen as the determination by the opposition to take over the country by consolidating the wealthy metros that have large populations and vast industries, such as the City of Johannesburg. David Makhura’s appointment as Gauteng premier will help to ensure there is greater stability. The test of such a success will be the local government elections.
The concerns raised by our communities during the many door-to-door campaigns will never be lost to the ANC. Its manifesto and the cries of our people must find practical expression in delivery. There is an appreciation that we have the best constitution, but for as long as our people are hungry and suffering, such lofty ideals will not find easy embrace and lasting affinity.
Most service delivery riots have been increasing in poor areas adjacent to small municipalities and towns. The violence and strife, which have led to people’s deaths and destruction of property, has been worrisome, as has the use of brutal force by the police in quelling these riots. Greater restraint will be called for without compromising safety and protection of property. Of key importance to the ANC will be to ensure that its best cadres are deployed to poor communities.
There will be a greater need to descend to the level of regional structures. This with the view to strengthen the hand of the ANC in the light of the local government elections in 2016. The choice of mayors and regional leaders will be scrutinised with greater care in order for the ANC to ensure the right people for the job. This will require regional involvement by the national leadership in partnership with the provincial leadership. The ANC will seek to send a strong message against factionalism that can partly be accountable for the loss of about 10 percent support, especially in Gauteng. The branches will have to be revitalised to be the watchdogs of community interests and the first sounding boards of tension and strife that communities face.
Overall delivery of promises will be the final test upon which the success and failure of the ANC will rest. The great expectations of our people and hope have been placed on the ANC, but the party must not assume such trust and confidence will be permanent. The continued support and admiration of our people must still be earned. Of critical importance will be the appointment of the ministers and how they will ensure greater delivery. The ministers will have to be activists for the agenda of development and they must have the appetite to dirty their hands and descend to the level of communities. Communities must see ministers more often and not just during door-to-door campaigns before elections. Previous ministers have done much planning and goal setting. The last cabinet of Zuma can only but be hands-on.
The ANC is aware that, more often than not, Zuma is held to account for the actions and inaction of most ministers. When there is an outbreak of local service delivery, we need to see the minister of local government taking a lead. That has not been the case. More ministers must be seen to be actively responding to the concerns raised within their portfolios.
The resounding vote of confidence the ANC attained must be sustained and enhanced. The fate that befell ministers such as Dina Pule, must be an indicator of the extent to which there will be no equivocation or countenancing what may be seen and viewed as awry. The new ministers will have to be aware that their positions are earned out of competency and not praise singing.
* Thami Ka Plaatjie is head of ANC Research and adviser to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.