Insight Mangaung: The people who hold the power

2012-12-16 10:00

You’ve heard it said of the governing party’s elective conference in Mangaung: ‘the branches will decide’. ANC branches comprise members who elect the 4 000 delegates who will make decisions likely to affect all of us for the next seven years. We speak to the men and women of the branches in the final instalment of this three-part series

Eastern Cape: Wycliff Ndara

Ndara hopes the Mangaung conference will result in households in the Eastern Cape area of Ngquza Hill getting piped water.

The 41-year-old Ward 18 branch member hopes tarred roads will follow, with a shopping centre.

A single father of two, Ndara is a general labourer at a local hospital and has been an ANC member since 1990.

He says his branch nominated Kgalema Motlanthe for president and Tokyo Sexwale as his deputy.

“We want the ANC to go back to the old values of (Albert) Luthuli, (Oliver) Tambo and (Nelson) Mandela. Under (President Jacob) Zuma those things will go away. That’s my view,” he says.

The Eastern Cape has strongly backed Zuma’s second term though. – Sabelo Ndlangisa

Limpopo: Donald Selamolela

For Selamolela (27), there was no better way to add value to people’s lives than “through joining the ANC”. He joined the ranks of the governing party in 2001.

Today, Selamolela is a member of the Kgalusi Malebogo branch in Blouberg and remains committed.

“I feel the ANC is the only party that has the capacity to advance the national democratic revolution.

“It’s the only organisation where I can make a contribution towards bettering the lives of poor people.”

Outside politics, he is manager of monitoring and evaluation in the provincial health ministry.

He is taking the mandate of his branch to Mangaung and they support the current ANC leadership.

Leadership is one thing, but it is debate and policy adoption that really grab Selamolela’s attention.– Sipho Masondo

KwaZulu-Natal: Louis Enock

Enock (54), the chairperson of the ANC’s Wentworth and Merebank branch, has been involved in politics since 1975.

An ANC member since 1991 and a volunteer prior to that, Enock is married with four children and lives in Wentworth, which is part of Ward 68. Born in Sydenham, Enock is human resource development officer at the Mobeni Further Education and Training Institute.

He first became an educator in 2000 when he started lecturing. He had previously earned a living as an instrument mechanic.

Enock became involved in the ANC because of his experiences of how the apartheid state responded to the rallies held to celebrate the victory of Frelimo over the Portuguese colonialists in 1975.

“I was still on my way to the Durban rally when I saw the police beating people and breaking up the rally. What I saw shocked me. They really overplayed their hand that day. What I saw made me more interested in politics. It forced me into politics,” he said.

“The situation made me want to do something to change things.”

Enock believes staying in the ANC is the best way to continue with his community activism.

“If you are in the ruling party, you have the resources and the capacity to do things to change people’s lives. We have a big role to play.

“As a person, I want to do more. I don’t just want to go to work every day and come back home. I want to do more than that,’’ he said.

“Politics is the height of activism. It is what controls the environment and what happens around you.’’

Enock’s branch went with the same slate as the bulk of the KwaZulu-Natal branches: Jacob Zuma as president, Cyril Rampahosa as deputy, Gwede Mantashe as secretary-general, Jessie Duarte as his deputy, Baleka Mbete as national chairperson and Zweli Mkhize as treasurer.

For Enock, who attended the Mahikeng and Polokwane national conferences, the biggest challenge at Mangaung will be to ensure that the ANC leaves the conference more unified.

“We have to make sure that we leave the conference more united than we went in,” Enock said.

’’We have to get the party back to where it comes from. We have to deal with issues like self-interest, which is driving us apart as members of the organisation. We have to clean up and get people back to the values that the ANC comes from.”

Enock will travel to Mangaung on a bus, along with other delegates from the eThekwini region who will be staying at ANC-sponsored accommodation. – Paddy Harper

Mpumalanga: Jeffrey Skhosana

Skhosana (39) has indelible memories of seeing his father being tortured on a farm.

That’s why he decided to join the ANC 22 years ago as it was the organisation that had a plan to end racial discrimination.

“I witnessed my father being beaten in front of me where he worked for R50 and a mielie meal bag. When I started high school, I joined the ANC,” Skhosana said.

The married father of five children is a branch chairperson of Ward 26 in Kriel and has been nominated as a delegate to the Mangaung elective conference. Skhosana earns a living as a community development worker.

The simmering tension between supporters of President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, gives Skhosana the jitters, such that he cannot identify his preferred leaders.

Nevertheless, he still feels comfortable in the ANC and adores its policies.

“I hope the conference will elect principled leaders. There’s one individual with capacity, good credentials and background who can lead the organisation and the country. What is important though is that ANC members must unite and work together after Mangaung instead of victimising and purging those holding a different view,” Skhosana said.

Skhosana hopes that the conference will review the economic and cadre deployment policies.

“Free trade kills local business. Foreign companies produce cheap goods, which they import here and sell at low prices. We must impose import tax to ensure that they don’t take our companies out of business,” he said.

Deploying capable cadres in government, Skhosana believes, will go a long way in restoring the ANC-led government’s integrity. Also, a mechanism to assesss deployees must be developed, he said. – Sizwe sama Yende

Free State: Mathew Mokgele

Mokgele is one of the subjects of the Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela.

Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela is a documentary film by director Thomas Allen Harris about a group of men who went into exile in 1970.

Mokgele sits in front, on the far right, in a black golf shirt in the well-known photo of the 12 men from Bloemfontein.

Now 73 years old, Mokgele answers questions with questions, and has the brutal honesty of a man who lived life for a long time and endured things the younger generation cannot even imagine.

Mokgele said he left Bloemfontein with a few close friends to undergo military training and to study abroad.

To a question on when exactly he became a member of the ANC and whether he is still a member, Mokgele asked: “Can anyone say I am not?”

He is very reluctant to talk politics, but said he “was never a Zuma man”.

“We had to endure hardship living abroad, but it was nothing compared with what happened coming home. Imagine coming home after being in exile for 27 years and feeling left out,“ said Mokgele.

“My parents were long dead and I had no income. My sister was looking after me for 10 years before I finally got a veterans’ pension,” Mokgele explained.

He said he never married and did not have children.

If there is one thing he wants delegates to discuss at the Mangaung conference, it is the welfare of veterans.

To a question on whether he would have made a different choice if he had a chance to change his decision of going into exile, Mokgele asked: “Was I wrong doing that? No. I was not wrong,” he said. – Cathy Dlodlo

Western Cape: Bulelwa Mayende

Ask Mayende when she joined the ANC and she exclaims: “Sjoe! When was that?”

Mayende first got involved in politics as a member of her high school’s Student Representative Council. She officially joined the ANC in 1998, when she was 16.

Now, the 30-year-old mother of two heads the newly established ANC Parklands branch in Table View, Cape Town, and is also a provincial executive member of the SA National Civic Organisation.

Her day job is as a small business consultant, but her heart belongs to politics.

When she was very young, she says, her relatives in the Eastern Cape were brutally beaten by the apartheid police for being loyal to the ANC and she had little choice but to follow in their footsteps.

“I don’t see myself surviving without the ANC. The ANC so far is the only platform where we are able to debate issues affecting South Africa as a whole.”

Like her province, Mayende supports Kgalema Motlanthe for president. “I don’t want (current President Jacob) Zuma.”

She hopes nationalisation of mines, the transformation of leadership, education and tenders will be debated in Mangaung.

“If you belong to the ANC, it’s automatic that you will be getting tenders. This must come to an end.” – Peter Luhanga / West Cape News

Gauteng: Simon Molefe

Molefe is the deputy chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Gauteng, but he’ll be attending the ANC’s congress in Mangaung this week for his branch in Ward 8 in Kagiso on the West Rand.

Molefe, who turned 37 on Wednesday, is therefore serving his last term in the youth league.

His term as Gauteng chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency came to an end last month, which means he is in effect unemployed.

Molefe lives with his wife and their three children in Kagiso.

“Radical economic transformation” is what he would like to see coming out of Mangaung.

“Non-scarce skills must be given to cooperatives to manage,” he said, while work should also be done to renew township enterprises.

Molefe also has strong opinions about the arts industry.

“We must produce more South African documentaries,” he said, adding that 90% of the programmes shown should be “South African stuff”.

In this regard, he said South Africa should emulate Nigeria which has a strong film industry.

Asked about his choice for ANC leader, he said it was complicated. “My branch has nominated (President Jacob) Zuma and given me a mandate to vote Zuma, but my province has nominated (Deputy President) Kgalema Motlanthe.”

Seeing that the ANC’s national congress was about branches, he said he would be lobbying other branches to vote for Zuma too.

“Zuma represents the ANC,” he said, adding that the president had achieved many things since 2009.

Molefe said he would be driving to Mangaung himself, but he would stay at the university residences with other delegates “to better engage with people who are going to be there too”. – Carien du Plessis

North West: Puso Matebese

Matebese’s Ward 18 branch wants Mangaung to endorse policies that will make free education a reality.

The ANC branch in Bodibe village in Ditsobotla, in which the 24-year-old is secretary, also wants to see change at the helm of the party.

The branch last month nominated Kgalema Motlanthe for president and Tokyo Sexwale as his deputy.

Matebese says: “We want the nationalisation of mines; (President Jacob) Zuma doesn’t.

“We hope education will be free under Motlanthe. I am confident that the ANC will implement such resolutions under Motlanthe.”

The North West has endorsed a second term for President Zuma by 162 votes, while his deputy, Motlanthe, secured a paltry 14 votes. – Sabelo Ndlangisa

Northern Cape: Howard Seekoei

Seekoei (28) from Kimberley in the Northern Cape said though organisational renewal was discussed during the policy conference, he thinks it should be high on the agenda at Mangaung.

Seekoei, a delegate for Ward 5 in Kimberley, which forms part of the Sol Plaatje region, said it broke his heart to see how ANC members’ interests changed when they were elected into positions of power.

He would stay an ANC member because the organisation remained relevant, but robust political education was needed.

“This should also include members of the ANC who defected to other parties – like Cope – and then returned. They should not be treated differently because they left,” said Seekoei.

“It is important to do some introspection,” he said. – Cathy Dlodlo

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