2017 will decide ANC's revival - Ebrahim Rasool

2017-05-26 14:49
Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

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Cape Town - Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool believes 2017 is the ANC's last, decisive chance at a revival, and should start with President Jacob Zuma going.

Rasool, who is back in the country following a six-year stay abroad, largely as Ambassador to the US, feels his party is at a crossroads ahead of its December elective conference.

"2017 is a crucial year for the ANC. 2019 is for the country and its voters, but 2017 is for the ANC," he told News24 on Friday.

"It's the ANC's chance at revival. It's a very decisive chance. After this we may survive, but continue to slide.

"But if we can restore the organisation, its politics that we stand for, and the moral compass, then I think we can thrive again."

The responsibility was therefore squarely on African National Congress members ahead of this weekend's NEC, and the December conference.

"The choice for members is very simple: Get a new president, or the country will get a new government."

The fact that the Inkatha Freedom Party claimed the Nquthu municipality in by-elections on Wednesday was more evidence of Zuma's waning power.

Even the president's supporters should acknowledge that the ANC risks being replaced, if it does not replace Zuma, he said.

READ: ANC stalwarts, veterans call on NEC to wake country from 'nightmare'

ANC voters 'want the house in order'

Under Zuma, the ANC was on the path to losing the government in 2019, he said, citing key losses in the 2016 local election.

"I don't think the DA has grown. I think the ANC voters stayed away, saying: 'We are loyal to you, but we don't like what you are doing.' They are saying: 'Get the house in order and we will be available for you.'"

He said the main issue was no longer about the split in the ANC. It was obvious that the ANC was deeply divided, he said.

What was more important was for the organisation to emerge from its elective conference, or a Zuma ousting, united under one slate.

"The party's caught up in a pincer movement," Rasool said.

"On the one side, its struggle generation is seeing a betrayal of values - that this is not what they struggled for. On the other side, even the ones who are very ambitious, they are asking: 'Will our ambitions be realised if we lose the elections?'

"So there is this battle on the one side for survival, on the other side for revival."

READ: Struggle stalwarts' open letter to the ANC NEC - read in full

NDZ, Cyril both improvements

He was reluctant to publicly back either presidential front runner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or Cyril Ramaphosa, despite having his personal preference.

It was more important to unite the party once a winner emerges to avoid another split in the party, as was seen after the Polokwane conference in 2007.

Either candidate though, would be an improvement on Zuma.

"I have worked with both Nkosazana and Cyril. I can safely say that neither of them are inherently corrupt.

"It's six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. We should focus our energies that the president finds a dignified way without a scorched earth approach to Zuma's exit."

He believed Dlamini-Zuma could stand on her own as an independent candidate. She had vast experience, but needed to ensure she was not beholden to the same forces Zuma was.

Ramaphosa may have the edge though, as an inspiration and co-author of the Constitution, and the nation could probably heal under him, he said.

Both candidates therefore needed to tell their supporters to calm down.

Global standing affected

Rasool currently works with an organisation, World For All, which aims to promote unity and integration for minority groups in the world.

Having spent the last few years abroad, including the last two as a fellow at Georgetown University, he had seen first-hand how the ANC's factional battles played out in the eyes of the globe.

"I get called regularly from institutions and corporations asking: 'What is going on in South Africa?'

"When I speak to Egyptians, or speak to Syrians, people who look to South Africa for the model, they also wonder: 'What has happened to this model?'

"When you wanted to do business in Africa, you came via South Africa. When you wanted to build your ideological, political, freedom aspirations, South Africa was the only working model.

"To investors, the model is imploding."

They had concluded that Zuma was not the best thing for SA, nor the ANC's future, he said.

"We have to do it in a way that doesn't implode South Africa further."

The party had a golden opportunity this year to get the train back on track, Rasool added.

On a personal front, he had no plans to return to politics, but was always available to serve.

Read more on:    anc  |  ebrahim rasool  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town

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