Burying the poo hatchet to win Cape Town

2015-01-11 15:05

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When ANC leaders touched down to “invade” the Western Cape this week in preparation for the party’s 103rd birthday bash, it was as much about winning hearts as it was about January 8.

They aimed to find some measure of unity among feuding provincial leaders and to find ways to make a dent in the DA’s growing support in the province, especially the Cape Town metro, ahead of next year’s local government elections.

One of the big breakthroughs, however, was an end to the year-long feud between the provincial party leadership and social rights group Ses’khona, which, those sympathetic to the group believe, nearly ended in the execution of one of its leaders, Andile Lili.

Lili was shot four times in his home by two alleged hit men following an ANC press conference during which his organisation was denounced. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the incident.

ANC policy head and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe – flanked by provincial treasurer Fezile Calana – announced at a packed rally in the Crossroads township in Cape Town this week that the ANC’s top six had a meeting with Ses’khona leaders on Wednesday, and would hold another with them and the ANC’s provincial executive committee today. It was clearly an intervention to make peace.

“The message from the ANC is clear: We support Ses’khona. We can’t be separate from the people’s struggles. The ANC wants to use Ses’khona to ensure effective service delivery to the people,” he said.

Radebe also told supporters they should put their “shoulders to the wheel” to defeat the DA.

Ses’khona claims to have 87?000 paid-up members in the Western Cape as opposed to the ANC’s 30 000.

The group has strongholds in major townships in and around Cape Town, where the ANC believes it has the biggest chance of drawing a large number of votes. In last year’s elections, 1.9 million of the province’s registered voters lived in the Cape Town metro, with the remaining million spread out across farms and other rural areas.

Lili and fellow leader Loyiso Nkohla were expelled from the ANC and later readmitted on appeal. They have so far resisted advances by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.

Nkohla told City Press: “We said to the leaders of the ANC that they can’t just come to the people when they want their votes.

“We are not in alliance with the ANC, but part of the [mass democratic movement] structures. We are not lovey-dovey to the ANC and will take government departments to court if we must. “It is about our people.”

Former premier and ANC national executive committee member Lynne Brown said although Ses’khona could be “a bit chaotic”, it was in touch with people’s needs and cooperation with the ANC would be beneficial.

“In the time of the United Democratic Front, when you had nine people on a committee, you had nine different opinions, but that is also good,” she said.

Some ANC strategists believe if the party could concentrate on pulling the vote and registering people living in the growing black townships, the party would be using its energies more wisely than trying to woo the fickle coloured vote.

Migration from the Eastern Cape has brought 300 000 new registered voters to the Western Cape over the past five years.

“We could have gained at least 80 000 votes if we concentrated on registering black [African] people [for the 2014 elections],” said an ANC strategist.

At least three activists told City Press that the confrontation between the ANC and the DA-led City of Cape Town council this week was more about show than substance.

The head of the ANC’s organising team, Nomvula Mokonyane, told journalists on Friday that of all the January 8 events the party has held since its unbanning in 1990, this year’s had been the most difficult to organise.

The two parties disagreed on a number of restrictions, but mainly on a City of Cape Town requirement that those attending the event be issued with tickets.

Mokonyane listed among the difficulties the city’s rejection of the 4 000 posters that the ANC had initially designed for the event; the prohibition of firecrackers and confetti; and barring the ANC from the executive mayor’s suite in the stadium.

But acting mayor of Cape Town Brett Herron dismissed the ANC’s accusations of sabotage, saying the party was “clearly not used to the good and sound governance” it was experiencing in the city.

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