The people are suffering but ANC leaders are fighting among each other, the governing party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule exclaimed at the end of his short door-to-door campaign on Thursday in Jan Kempdorp.
It had been a gruelling day for the Luthuli House head honcho in the small town north of Kimberley in Northern Cape, where he had made a stop to join ANC volunteers on a campaign to ramp up support for the annual January 8 birthday celebrations rally this coming weekend.
Magashule was accompanied by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and former Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.
The first signs of a leadership squabble within the party ranks hit Magashule during a briefing session with ANC councillors at the local council chambers, which was marred by allegations and counter allegations of corruption among the ANC caucus members, City Press learnt.
Those attending the briefing said “things almost got physical” as ANC local leaders dropped files of wrongdoing against each other in front of Magashule.
After the briefing session, which took longer than expected, it had started drizzling and the crowd gathering outside the municipal offices to share a word of dissatisfaction with Magashule were already getting anxious.
When he finally came out of the chambers he told those eager for a word with him: “Please comrades, today we are here to celebrate the birthday of the ANC. We will listen to your complaints at a community meeting later. For now, let’s go out and tell our people to celebrate with the ANC.”
There was a temporary truce, but only until the local councillor spoke during the first door-to-door activation in Geldenskat.
He complained of “fraud and corruption,” including a R3-million budget for a development project that disappeared. Another R48 million also allegedly disappeared, said the councillor.
He said that after soliciting the support of fellow ANC local leaders he gave up and eventually took some of his complaints to the office of the Public Protector.
At another shack settlement in Jan Kempdorp, Magashule heard that the waiting list for RDP houses had been corrupted and “young children that were in school when we applied for housing are now owning RDP houses while we still wait”, according to an elderly resident.
The community rally at the local football stadium also did not fare better. A physical fight broke out in front of Magashule, who had invited residents to voice their concerns. Dlamini, who had last year been critically ill, was quickly whisked away.
The ANC is aiming to pack the 11000-capacity Tafel Lager Stadium in Kimberley to the rafters on Saturday. President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver the birthday statement of the party, which is also the programme of action for the party and government in 2020.
The ANC’s birthday speech will inform the contents of Ramaphosa’s upcoming state of the nation address in Cape Town, which will also mark the official opening of Parliament for the new year.