The perception that the ANC was a party of ’thieves’ affected us at the municipal polls – Fikile Mbalula
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Johannesburg - The ANC has blamed its major losses in big metros in Gauteng and municipalities in other parts of the country on high unemployment and the “perception that it was an organisation of thieves”.
The party also noted that deep-seated divisions and factional battles within it, especially in places like eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal had severely affected their fortunes during the November 1 municipal elections.
These admissions were made by the ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula and the party’s head of organising Nomvula Mokonyane during a media briefing at their party’s headquarters, Luthuli House, in Joburg on Thursday night.
During their address, these party leaders were clear that they suffered bruising losses in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. While very little analysis was made about Gauteng, divisions in KwaZulu-Natal including party members deciding to contest as independent candidates caused troubles within the ANC and was evident by Mbalula’s admission that the top leadership was going to focus their energies on solving the factions in that province.
Mbalula also refused to acknowledge media reports that its suspended secretary general Ace Magashule had played a role in ensuring that the ANC retains eThekwini through a coalition with the ABC party.
While admitting his ANC top leaders including KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala were part of the talks that led to the successful coalition – Mbalula also said we “also thank others who contributed to it”.
The briefing came just a few hours after EFF leader Julius Malema had earlier also addressed the media to clarify his party view on voting for DA’s mayoral candidates in three metros of Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni and other municipalities in the country. Malema said they’ve punished the ANC for not supporting its demand for the expropriation of land without compensation, the formation of a state bank and scrapping of outstanding fees for tertiary students – allegations Mbalula vehemently denied.
In response Mbalula said the ANC called off the talks with the EFF even before the two parties had an opportunity to engage on some of their demands but fell short of condemning Malema for his decision to vote for the DA’s candidates.
Mbalula revealed that they were also “ambushed'' by the IFP after the two parties agreed to support each other in municipalities where each of them had obtained the highest votes.
“The IFP hit us with a heavy storm of ambush and they took Mhlathuze and Newcastle through a coalition with other parties. They reneged on an agreement we had with them. They just went to the national executive committee meeting and changed that decision without informing us,” Mbalula said.
He, however, also acknowledged that their short-lived pact with the IFP had also caused ruptures among their own members in KwaZulu-Natal especially those who live in the Mzala Nxumalo Region.
Insiders had earlier told Independent Media that the IFP negotiators wanted the ANC to rename that region as Mzala Nxumalo was a strong critic of IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The former UMkhonto we Sizwe cadre in his book labelled Buthelezi as a war lord – something which still troubles the veteran leader to this day.
According to Mbalula, the IFP’s demand did not sit well with their own members in KwaZulu-Natal. “Because of the Mzala Nxumalo matter, some of our members threatened to leave the ANC and become part of the opposition.”
Despite the outcome of these elections – Mbalula and Mokonyane were still of the view that the ANC was commanding a lot of support in the country.
Mbalula was outright in his explanation that stories of the personal protective equipment (PPE) scandals during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, had outraged the electorate and had also affected the image of the ANC ahead of elections.
He said the country experienced a low turn-out of voters despite concerted efforts by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to ease the burden of Covid-19 by providing some of the people with the R350 Social Relief of Distress grants and other benefits.
“Some of these people never knew that billions came from the government. They thought it was just manna from heaven,” Mbalula said.
He also told the media that candidates' leadership battles ahead of voting, including people marching to Luthuli House on November 1, during voting day also affected their fortunes.