A police officer looks on as protesters chant slogans during protests in Mahikeng, in the North West province. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
The people have proved in recent elections that they are the pillars of our fledgling democracy. They determine who leads them in the government. Since the defeat of apartheid in 1994, our people took the risk of placing the ANC in the government to fight crime, unemployment, poverty and inequality.

They entrusted the ANC because they had a strong political conviction that it remained their beacon of hope and the custodian of their aspirations. Most of the trusting people are from rural villages where the ANC enjoys most of the support, and continues to receive most of the votes.

Twenty-four years into democracy, our people are casting aspersions on the new dispensation. They feel short-changed of their deserved and earned service delivery and a better life. They lose hope daily because of their leaders’ unethical conduct which has a negative bearing on service delivery.

They measure us by the fact that we are the liberation movement that defeated apartheid and by our ability to put bread on the table. Faced by abject poverty, which is informed by a high rate of unemployment, people easily forget where we came from.

It is important for the ANC, particularly its leagues, to rise to the occasion and defend the National Democratic Revolution. We have the Freedom Charter and it must be implemented to create a better life for all. Our failure to fight corruption and deliver services will disillusion our people, and they’ll soon question the value of freedom and democracy.

The unfortunate measure our people have demonstrated to us is the loss of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, Thabazimbi, Modimolle-Mookgophong and other neglected municipalities.

They punished us by either voting for the opposition or not voting. Our inability to be ethically competent and to create accountability and good governance has been tested.

It is high time that we prove to our people that we are representing them. This can restore hope and confidence. Our people will continue to be angry with us if we undermine their rights. They are bombarded by stories of corruption and infighting in the ANC.

The Madiba promise of a better life remains elusive. Unfulfilled promises have unleashed a spate of violent service delivery protests during which schools, libraries and art centres are burnt in frustration and desperation.

We thought we learnt from our mistakes in previous elections. We were wrong. We continue with our age-old traditions of neglecting our people and their need for basic services. Our people can hurt us if we neglect their needs. In fact they have already hurt us badly. It can become worse if we don’t wake up.

The ANC’s 54th National Conference was a highly contested space. One of the primary actions that the elected leadership must undertake is to unite the ANC.

It would be prudent if leaders of the ANC, leagues and alliance partners were to develop programmes aimed at forging unity in order to crush triumphalism.

The situation in KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and North West has a bearing on organisational growth and development. Some of the branches demand decisions and resolutions on the unresolved branches which were supposed to attend the conference.

Before the conference, individuals lobbied for themselves and spared no expense in their campaigns to be elected into leadership. If the unlimited resources could have been spared for real organisational work, we would all be better off.

Infighting continues to harm our image.

The “Thuma Mina” campaign needs maximum unity of the ANC now than ever before. It is suicidal to believe that infighting will help the movement win elections.

The people will continue to hurt us because they cannot afford to be led by an organisation characterised more by political dwarfism than ethical leadership. The arrogance of power and dogmatism of the Second Coming will cost us dearly. If the ANC continues to be hard of hearing, it will cost us dearly at next year’s polls.

* Selane is the Limpopo ANC Youth League provincial secretary. He writes in his personal capacity.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.