Johannesburg - The ANC has started swarming the city of Polokwane and the entire Limpopo province to charm various structures of society ahead of its 110 birthday rally to be held on Saturday.
On Wednesday the governing party sent out its president, Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy president, David Mabuza, national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile to speak to traditional leaders.
However, the charm offensive did not quite go as planned as Ramaphosa was dressed down by unhappy traditional leaders in Sekhukhune who accused him of telling lies and making empty promises to them.
Speaking on behalf of the other traditional leaders before Ramaphosa's main address for the day, Kgoshi Kagoshi Phaahla said one of the promises made to them was in May 2017 and nothing has been done.
“Today, I am standing here without a single property being transferred. I am still asking myself what more lies are we going to hear today,” Phaahla said, leaving Ramaphosa who was seated on the main podium a bit embarrassed.
It was not clear what exactly the promise was as Phahlaa only said there was a promise to transfer properties to them. Also making the promise confusing was that it was made in 2017 and Ramaphosa at that was deputy president to former president Jacob Zuma.
Speaking after Phahlaa, Ramaphosa denied that the leaders were lied to and he added that the process to get traditional leaders vehicles was “under way”.
For Mabuza, things went quite as planned when he addressed a group in Polokwane. He told the group that all the country’s traditional leaders should henceforth get equal treatment.
“We have come to a point where we should normalise the disparities that are there in terms of the services we offer to our traditional leaders. KZN is doing something else, Mpumalanga is doing something else, North West is doing something else. The treatment is not the same. We have come to a point where we must normalise these services that we deliver to traditional leaders,” Mabuza said.
That was in an apparent reference to long-standing grumblings by other traditional leaders that the Zulu monarch was given a better budget (over R60 million a year) and treatment when compared with the others.
Furthermore, Mabuza told the leaders he would from next month start a campaign to reconnect with them.
“I am going to do that starting with Limpopo province. And my date will be February. I will start that long journey to reconnect with the traditional leaders, allow the traditional leaders to vent their problems because they are part and parcel of this family. We still respect you as our leaders, we still remain your subjects. You must never at any stage doubt our allegiance and our support to you.
“But remember we are running a government, which we must run together, and this government is a government of the people, by the people and it works for the people. We are happy to be reminded where we are at fault, where we make mistakes, we are open to being corrected,” he said.
Asked by journalists later on whether he would be contesting again in the party’s December conference, Mabuza downplayed it saying it would be a decision of the party’s branches.
“That is the decision of the branches of the ANC as to who will lead them. It’s not my decision whether I want to come back or not and it is not my wish. It’s about the will of the people. The ANC is leading government and has to be responsible for the resources of the country.”