Traditional leaders may dump the ANC

By Drum Digital
23 August 2016

Traditional leaders may soon form their own political party to take on the ANC in rural areas

By Aphiwe Boyce

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The Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) President Setlamorago Thobejane said organised traditional leaders are fed up with the “ill-treatment” they receive from the ANC and are reviewing their “historic relationship”.

“We have been asking for a meeting with them for the past five years but nothing has materialised,” said Chief Thobejane, who is also an ANC MP, following a meeting of the leadership of Contralesa at the weekend. “The relationship has come to a point where one does not speak to each other.

“If this means we join other political parties we will do so, because the ANC doesn’t take us seriously. They don’t listen to us. Today’s ANC doesn’t value us.”

This could be a big blow for the ANC, as the 2016 municipal elections showed that the party’s strengthnow lies in rural areas where the traditional leaders wield a lot of influence. The party has lost support in major urban areas.

But Chief Thobejane said that was not their concern. “We are not a direct part of them, we just have a historic relationship with them starting from our forefathers. But we have come to realise that there was a need to reconsider our relationship.  If the general feeling is that we divorce them we will do so,” he said.

Chief Tobejane said Contralesa will take the final decision the end of October, adding that they believe its time they consulted widely about getting direct representation for their constituencies in Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipalities.

“It is clear that the future of who must govern South Africa seems as it will only be decided by the majority of our rural communities. If the ANC knows that we are a strategic partner, they must take us seriously,” he said.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said traditional shouldn’t communicate with the ruling party through the media if they want to dump it. “Contralesa is not our affiliate. They are chiefs, their president and some of them are  ANC members of parliament, if they have concerns they should have communicated that with us,” he said.

Yesterday, the Daily Dispatch also reported that AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu has said the ANC should remove President Jacob Zuma if it wants to stem its electoral decline and woo back disgruntled members and supporters.

But Chief Thobejane said Zuma isn’t the only problem in the ANC: “He is a leader who is supposed to show the direction, but the party has lost the direction. But it must be a collective responsibility.”

He said the conference will also discuss whether Contralesa will establish their own party or join another political party.

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