A province in disarray

2012-08-04 14:03

As the ANC picks sides ahead of Mangaung, the case for improving the people’s lot in this political hot spot gets lost in the middle.

It’s often basic things that North West people want: tarred roads, electricity and water.

But from one ­administration to the next, ANC internal politics are placed ahead of service delivery. Progress has been recorded in towns, but ­villages have largely remained ­behind with basic services.

Koketso Moeti, a community ­activist from Rooigrond, said: ­“Instead of listening to what communities are saying, the service ­delivery protests are politicised with accusations of ‘political interference’ flying around. The people are once again ignored while threats of ‘finding those behind the protests’ fill the media space.”

The ANC remains the preferred political party in the province. In 2009, amid factionalism that led to the dissolution of the then provincial executive committee, the party still managed to score 72% of the votes.

The North West population was estimated at 3.2 million by mid-2010. The unemployment rate stands at 28%, according to Stats SA’s 2010 Labour Force Survey and more than 60% live below the poverty line.

In the face of this challenge, the government of North West is virtually crippled while ANC ­deployees focus their energies on the battle for the ruling party leadership rather than dealing with service delivery concerns. Few officials can now do their government jobs without being suspected of involvement in campaigning for Mangaung.

The North West ANC is divided between one faction that wants President Jacob Zuma re-elected, led by provincial chairperson ­Supra Mahumapelo, and another that favours Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, led by provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge.

North West has been hit by ­several service delivery protests since the ­beginning of the year, but these have been blamed on the politics of Mataboge’s faction.

Premier Thandi Modise blamed factional behaviour in the ANC, and lack of cooperation between the ruling party and government.

It has become so serious that government resources are being used to investigate political factions suspected of being behind community uprisings.

While the North West legislature’s portfolio committee on provincial affairs and finance met Mahikeng residents to listen to grievances that led to protests, Modise appointed a task team to investigate the service delivery protests.

The task team was led by MEC for local government and traditional affairs China Dodovu and MEC for ­human settlements, public safety and liaison Nono Maloyi.

The two are seen as part of a faction led by Mataboge, which Modise is linked to.

 This made their mission questionable and was seen as an attempt to discredit Mahumapelo. Dodovu and Maloyi were appointed in May when Modise reshuffled her cabinet. Their task team apparently confirmed a political link to service ­delivery protests.

Mataboge’s reaction to the protests also signalled divisions between political and government leadership.

He issued a statement saying protests were “politically motivated to destabilise Modise’s government. This manifests itself in criminal acts, civil disobedience and mobilisation of citizens to sign petitions for the recall of Modise and various mayors”.

The ANC sent Modise to the North West in 2010 with a mandate to unite the party and ensuring government functions despite the bitter political rivalry.

As ANC deputy secretary­general, Modise is a senior ruling party member in the province, but her links to a faction that seeks to replace Zuma with Motlanthe have created animosity towards her.

What also serves as a disadvantage is that she’s required to work closely with a provincial executive committee divided between ­Mahumapelo and Mataboge.

“Supra has his own mistakes, but he has been working with Ausi Thandi for a long time. Why can’t she call him and Kabelo, and reprimand them for this factionalism?” asked Bafana Tshenepe, a member of the Ngaka Modiri Molema interim regional leadership. He is also a councillor for Mahikeng local municipality and sits on the provincial executive committee as an ex­officio member.

Said Tshenepe: “We are disappointed by (Modise). We thought she would end political factions because she knows them, but she’s quiet.

Ausi Thandi has been respected for a long time, but now we’re starting to fear her.”

The Ngaka Modiri Molema Municipality, home to the capital city Mahikeng, has been torn between the factions since last year when the ANC regional leadership appointed Phaladi Saku as mayor against the provincial mandate to deploy Manketsi Tlhape.

That resulted in the municipality’s functions being compromised by different instructions depending on who issued them, with Mataboge’s faction winning the day.

The regional executive committee has since been disbanded and an interim leadership appointed.

Tshenepe said politicising the protests was only an excuse because the reality was that mayors and councillors had disengaged from communities, which left residents to resort to violent protests.

Said Tshenepe: “We decided to hold meetings with our branches because our comrades are taking part in these protests, but ANC councillors don’t show up at those meetings. When we decided to talk directly to them it was clear there is disrespect of the interim regional executive committee because these councillors see themselves as a product of the disbanded committee. They are not willing to accept the provincial executive decision to disband the committee.”

Tshenepe said relevant decisions to address political and governance problems were being taken, but “our provincial secretary does not implement . . . because he’s fighting the provincial chairperson”. 

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