The ANC will go down fighting and is prepared to sit in the opposition benches.
After a four-day-long meeting of the party’s national executive committee, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said yesterday that the party’s leadership took ”collective responsibility” for the slump in its support in last week’s local government polls – but was adamant tha t there was no question of “recalling” President Jacob Zuma.
The party, which faces losing out in governing key metros in Gauteng after its worst-ever performance, said it would continue coalition talks with opposition parties, including Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.
The ANC’s majority in the national vote has been reduced from 62% in 2011 to 54% today.
Mantashe said the ANC’s battle plan was aimed at stemming declining support and winning back the hearts and minds of its supporters, many of whom are believed to have stayed away or voted for opposition parties, particularly in some key metros.
The battle plan includes:
- The party’s leadership to visit its structures and listen to its supporters’ concerns;
- Take urgent steps to deal with factions across the organisation and root out corruption ;
- Call on the government to bring stability and policy certainty in state-owned entities such as the SABC, SAA and Eskom, which recently controversially said it would no longer buy renewable energy from independent power producers;
- Push for the national budget to be “re-prioritised” to focus on tackling poverty, unemployment and inequality; and
- Address the chaos that surrounded the party’s candidate lists before last local polls and act against those found to have manipulated the process.
While the ANC continues to seek deals with opposition parties to retain control of municipalities and metros it failed to win outright, the party’s leaders skirted around Zuma – whom many blamed for the party’s poor showing – saying the decline in votes was a collective responsibility.
“There was no proposal from the floor for the president to step down. [The] NEC takes collective responsibility for the results of the [past] elections,” Mantashe said.
ANC veterans last week called for the party to deal with Zuma if it wanted to regain support.
Mantashe said the party believed that tackling its electoral setback would require it to deal with perceptions that it was “arrogant, self-serving, soft on corruption and increasingly distant from its social base”.
He said the party would deal with acts of corruption strongly across party structures right to the top.
“While noting the efforts to rid our society, government and the private sector of corruption and its associated consequences, the NEC calls for an approach that will effectively deal with this cancer, without fear or favour.”
In an effort to appease workers and the student sector the ANC also resolved to mandate the government to speedily conclude talks on the national minimum wage and that the principle of no-fee increases in universities remain in place to give the consultative engagement with stakeholders a chance.
With just under seven days remaining to establish councils in hung municipalities and metros across the country, the ANC said it was in talks with all opposition parties to establish co-operation with those that “share and pursue a progressive transformation agenda to better the lives of our people”.
It also emerged – but was not confirmed – that the African Independent Congress, which garnered significant votes in a number of municipalities, would work with the ANC.
Mantashe confirmed that party officials had met AIC leadership yesterday but did not want to reveal details of the outcome of the talks, other than to say that all negotiations were national in perspective.
Last week the AIC said it would talk to the ANC provided it agreed to move Matatiele, its stronghold, back to KwaZulu-Natal from Eastern Cape.
DA leader James Selfe said yesterday coalition talks were at a progressive stage.
“We have had initial discussions with just about every political party with the exception of the ANC and we are now in the process of exchanging proposals about how we could structure government in the most effective way” said Selfe.
Selfe said the DA, which secured the most votes in Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane but not enough to govern on its own, was hopeful it would clinch deals with other political parties and claim some of the metros.
Other opposition parties including ACDP and the FF+ have taken a position to squeeze the ANC out of power in areas where it needs their support.
Twitter was abuzz last night after EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi posted a song saying “Siyaya ePitoli” (We are going to Pretoria), sparking speculation that it had clinched a coalition deal, possibly with the DA.
Source: Times Live