Ramaphosa and ANC allies say local government elections must go ahead
Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa and his allies have poured cold water on the call by some political parties to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to postpone this year’s much anticipated local government elections.
Ramaphosa says despite Covid-19 restrictions, South African lives must go on and the election is one political activity that should not be shelved because of the pandemic.
Ramaphosa’s call to have elections go ahead was made at Hammarsdale township, west Durban on Thursday where he was addressing a mini rally of the governing party ahead of a crucial by-election.
Addressing the ANC crowd, Ramaphosa said the ANC was ready for the local government elections.
While Ramaphosa said: "The ANC will win this coming by-elections, the next one and it will also win when we go to local government elections in October,“ the IEC is also yet to confirm the exact dates.
“There are those who are calling for the local government elections to be shelved and not held this year. As the ANC we are saying we want the elections now, the elections should be held because we are ready, we are always ready to vote for our people into offices so that they could work for us. Yes, the elections would be held during the pandemic of Covid-19 which has claimed so many lives in South Africa and worldwide … despite that our lives should go ahead … later this year,” he said, speaking in Zulu.
The calls to postpone the elections have been mainly championed by the EFF and the IFP.
The EFF wants the elections to be pushed to 2024 and held simultaneously with the provincial and national elections. The IFP said they should be postponed at least for a year. Both parties claim that due to Covid-19 restrictions, parties have not been able to properly prepare and canvass voters.
Before Ramaphosa spoke, KZN ANC chairperson and provincial premier Sihle Zikalala addressed the same matter and dismissed the calls.
“There are people who are saying the local government elections should be postponed, we are saying the elections should go ahead. As the ANC, we are ready,” Zikalala told the crowd.
Despite the show of strength during the rally and unity at the top, the divisions of the governing party in the eThekwini region could not be suppressed during the rally. Supporters of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede used the rally to show their strength.
The region has been divided along factions loyal to Gumede and another led by Thabani Nyawose. In the run-up to Nasrec in 2017, the Gumede faction was pro NDZ (Nkosazana Dlamini Zulu) while the Nyawose faction was firmly behind the CR17 faction of Ramaphosa.
While about 2 000 members of the party were eagerly awaiting Ramaphosa's arrival, singing struggle songs and waving ANC flags, no factional songs were heard in the crowd.
Things suddenly changed when Ramaphosa landed. Accompanied by Gumede, Zikalala and the NEC (national executive committee) deployee in the province, Nocawe Mafu, Ramaphosa made his way to the venue of the rally.
Unexpectedly, a part of the ANC crowd started to repeatedly chant pro-Gumede slogans. As a public address system mounted on an ANC branded vehicle played Struggle songs, a sizeable part of the ANC crowd started to repeatedly chant slogans in favour of Gumede, who was once mayor of eThekwini and was dislodged in August 2019 when she was accused of corruption.
Before coming to address the ANC gathering, Ramaphosa toured the port of Durban, which is facing congestion challenges. However, his visit was met with protest by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), who voiced fears that the port would be privatised.
The placard-waving and slogan-chanting members alleged that should the plan to privatise the port go ahead, thousands of jobs would be lost and workers pensions would be swallowed by the private owners.
The fear stemmed from an unverified document that started circulating three weeks ago and alleged that Transnet’s decision to move its ports division headquarters from Durban to Ngqura in the Eastern Cape was a precursor for privatising the port.
Speaking to the media outside the port, Satawu’s leader in KZN, Anele Kiti, said its members wanted Ramaphosa to know that they would never allow the privatisation.
“The first thing is that we want to send a message to the president of the country that he is the president of the workers; workers are worried that this port is going be privatised and we know, history has taught us, that when privatisation takes place it opens for corruption and workers cannot be affected with that,” Kiti said.
Ramaphosa said they would help the port to overcome its challenges.