The ANC in North West has moved a step ahead of its mother body in terms of establishing the levels of sabotage that the party suffered from its own members and leaders and the reasons for the drop in electoral support during the recent general elections.
Luthuli House last week announced that former president Kgalema Motlanthe would lead an ad hoc committee to investigate claims over the formation of small political parties allegedly to weaken the base of the ANC.
The parties are the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the African Content Movement (ACM) and their links to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma.
The committee was expected to “ascertain whether or not any national executive committee or other members of the ANC were involved in the establishment of other political parties”, spokesperson Pule Mabe said on Wednesday, adding that a report was expected within 60 days.
On Thursday North West ANC head of elections Saliva Molapisi, who is also public works and roads MEC, told City Press that a research group led by Mike Maduma was already on the ground to establish the reasons behind the decline in electoral support as well as the names of the key figures who delivered some gains for the opposition in every ward. “The research will look into the activities of the opposition on the ground as well as what and who were behind those activities,” Molapisi said.
He said a report back was expected early next month and if any evidence of internal sabotage was found it would be presented to the Motlanthe ad hoc committee.
Molapisi said it was “difficult to trace the actual activities of ANC leaders and members in formations like ATM”, but in any case, even if any assistance was present, it had minimal effect because the party did not emerge after the elections as a key opposition and it did not even manage to gain a single seat in the provincial legislature.
However, he said, “it is possible that some members of the ANC did partake in the activities of parties such as the ATM and the ACM in the province as some of those who were disgruntled by the disbandment of the previous provincial executive committee and withdrew their active participation in the ANC’s elections campaign”.
Former government spindoctor Mzwanele Manyi was among ATM leaders while the ACM was the brainchild of former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng – both close allies of Zuma. The ATM managed a paltry 3 684 votes in North West and the ACM only 359 votes. The ANC dropped to 61.87% from 67.39% in 2014.
Provincial elections coordinator Nikiwe Num said there was “a general agreement that there is cause for concern whether or not ANC leaders and members clandestinely worked with parties like the ATM”.
“The party had no offices in the province and no structures but look at their performance in the elections in terms of the votes they got. How is that possible?” asked Num.
ATM president Vuyolwethu Zungula said he was puzzled “why there are so many allegations being made against us without any evidence”, adding that the party saw the claims as “a direct ploy to stigmatise and persuade the public not to take us seriously”.
“We understand it to be a danger to democracy when people are being fed with so much disinformation. At first it was said that we were a Zuma party and now were being linked to Magashule. We don’t know who we will be linked to next.”
Zungula said that in the North West, the ATM had an extensive process long before its registration “whereby, we went to different church organisations where we spoke about the idea of formulating such a political party”.
He said that in October last year the party launched in Rustenburg “so, us getting votes in the North West was not by luck but because we organised ourselves as early as mid-July”.
“We launched in an arena and the place was full. The capacity was close to 2 000 or 3 000 therefore I do not understand why there are members of other political parties making such claims.”
Zungula said the ATM was being targeted and “I don’t know for what reason”. It had been a year since the first allegations were made in April last year and since then there had been no evidence brought forward to substantiate them, he said.