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Mlangeni’s son laments demise of liberation movement

The ANC’s grassroots support has hit an all-time low. Picture: Zwelizwe Ndlovu.

The ANC’s grassroots support has hit an all-time low. Picture: Zwelizwe Ndlovu.

Published Dec 1, 2021


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The Andrew Mlangeni Foundation believes the late ANC stalwart would have been disappointed to see the governing party falling apart and losing its support because of corruption and factional battles.

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The ANC’s grassroots support has hit an all-time low. Picture: Zwelizwe Ndlovu.

Andrew Mlangeni’s son, Sello Mlangeni, who is a director of the foundation, this week said his father would have been disappointed that they sacrificed their lives and fought for freedom and democracy only for it to be destroyed by corruption.

This follows the ANC only winning 46% of the voters during this year’s local government elections earlier this month, which also resulted in the party losing the control of four metropolitan municipalities, including Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.

This was the first time the ANC got less than 50% of the national vote since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

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In the first municipal election in the year 2000 the ANC got 59.39%, followed by an increase of 64.82% in 2006. In 2011 the numbers declined to 61.95% and in 2016 the party received 53.91%.

This year’s municipal elections had been widely viewed as a referendum on the ANC, which is tainted by corruption and facing backlash over the poor state of the economy beset by chronically high unemployment.

Poor service delivery has been a problem for years while most of the senior ANC members, some in the Top 6 had been accused of corruption. Meanwhile, unemployment is at a record high of 34.4%.

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“He was very disappointed with what was happening and never hid his feelings. He was very open about it. The internal fights are based on individualism and people who want to be the ANC. But the ANC is supposed to be a mass movement and most of these problems were caused by corruption.

“People want to be in power with the aim of stealing the money that is supposed to be servicing the people of the country. He was (Andrew Mlangeni) very upset by the lack of action against corruption from the top leadership.

“The ANC shouldn’t tolerate corruption. They have been doing this deployment of cadres but they must put the right people in the right jobs not because they are comrades,” he said.

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Mlangeni said the situation with the ANC had led to the people losing confidence in the party often referred to as the leader of society.

“The ANC has been in power for over 27 years but people are still suffering and struggling. It is painful to see shacks all over. I think the ANC has to do a lot and they must solve these internal problems and vote corruption out. People still love the ANC but the issue of corruption is killing the ANC and people lose confidence in the ANC.”

Mlangeni added that the municipal poll results were also a message to the ANC as the party has been failing to deliver to the people.

“The ANC has been in power for the last 27 years and I think the people also sent a message to them because there are times when the ANC failed to deliver on the promise they made to the people. I would have loved to see the ANC continue to rule but the people have sent the message.”

Activist and leader of the Soweto uprising Seth Mazibuko believes the ANC has been punished for losing its identity as the liberation movement.

“What is left is the colour and logo that must be reviewed because the ANC does not represent what it used to. When they started gaining status as the governing party, they became politicians instead of cadres and comrades and they focused more on politics rather than the people and they are being punished for that.”

On Thursday, ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula and Nomvula Mokonyane admitted that infighting, especially over candidate selection, had severely affected their performance including people marching to Luthuli House and vowing not to vote. The party also blamed its own internal factional battles and public perception of it being “an organisation of thieves” as the main reason for the poor showing during the elections.

Political analyst Professor Victor Ojakorotu said the results were an indication of what would happen in the 2024 national elections, adding that it was likely that the ANC would lose more votes and seats in parliament and other key elective positions.

“South Africans, especially the youth, have gradually begun to lose trust in government. If you critically look at the ANC’s performance, specifically in areas of good governance and service delivery, under President Cyril Ramaphosa, you will notice that the party performed dismally, as many South Africans still struggle with poverty, selective access to basic services and poor welfare conditions. For example, in the last municipal election, widespread corruption, persistently high rates of unemployment, crippling power blackouts and ineffective delivery of government services were burning campaign issues,” said Ojakorotu.

He said the party would have to urgently restore its moral character to win back the trust of the people.

“The ANC should provide good governance to the people and provide the people with equal access to service delivery. What an average voter needs is efficient service delivery. Voters are not necessarily party members, but citizens, who continually measure the performance of government against the provision of social services, security, job, strong yielding economy, high quality of life, among others,” he said.

Another political analyst, Sanusha Naidu, said the 2024 national elections would be a significant moment for the ANC, particularly because it has to use the remaining two years to rejuvenate itself.

“I am not sure whether they are listening to the message because I think there are two dynamics that are at play here. The identity of being a liberation movement that liberated South Africa and the second is how the ANC modernises itself or how it keeps itself relevant in society as the world changes.

“I don’t know if they are keeping up with the pace of changes. They talk the talk but I think it is very little to see how they are evolving. I think that’s going to be the key for them in 2024 and beyond,” said Naidu, adding that the party will have to be honest and stop the power games.

“What I would appreciate as a voter is a party that says we failed and we did not do right, and you have spoken and we accept our defeat.”

Another political analyst Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said the ANC would have to “resurrect” former president Nelson Mandela to restore supporter’s confidence.

“They will need to resurrect the honeymoon of the 1993-94 up to 1999 (period) when the ANC had a two-thirds majority, which means they will need to resurrect Thabo Mbeki as well. But that is impossible because we don’t travel backwards. So the question is: can they construct the 1994-1999 moment?”

Professor Siphamandla Zondi said: “There is no better way of campaigning to retain power than to use that power to visibly change things for the better at all levels. When people see the difference being made in their Iives every month by officials whose salaries and benefits they pay for, there will be no need for intense campaigns to persuade them about who to vote for.

“This is the advantage of incumbency the ANC has squandered every so often. Now it has the added responsibility to also be an effective, visible and issues-driven opposition in various critical municipalities in order to regain the trust of the people. But this will require it to ensure that wrongdoing does not go on anymore.”