ANC vows to win local government elections despite its financial troubles
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Johannesburg - The ANC is confident of winning the upcoming local government elections, despite having serious financial troubles, which has forced it to default on the payment of staff salaries, for more than three months.
Despite the ills, including threats of legal action and criminal charges against its top leadership, by some of the aggrieved staff members, the party is adamant that their financial troubles would not deter it from contesting and winning the elections, with a “decisive and majority victory.”
This was a bold remark by ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula, when asked about his party's chances in the election, amid its financial woes, especially its failure to pay staff salaries for more than three months.
Journalists also asked him about the lack of ANC election posters, which bear the faces of ward candidates, while other parties, such as the EFF and DA, had already placed their posters up.
In his reply, Mbalula said the ANC does not, for now, have a budget for such, but said they are dependent on donations from their members, and other donors.
“I do not have an election budget. We are going to depend on the agility and commitment of our members. We’ve always had it that way. We do not have a billion. Comrade TG (treasurer-general Paul Mashatile) is fundraising for us. With the little we’ve got, we will be able to deliver a decisive and majority victory,” Mbalula said.
According to Mbalula, his party never had an elections budget over the years, saying its own members were responsible for the funding. He was answering questions in the wake of the ANC struggling to pay salaries to its workers, but he appeared confident that the funds to drive their election campaign would emerge. In his address, Mbalula was also adamant that they would reclaim Tshwane, and also fight to regain control of the City of Johannesburg, and Ekurhuleni under Mzwandile Masina.
While he emphasised that the ANC was gunning for a majority victory in all municipalities, he did not rule out the possibility of coalition governments, where they failed to obtain a majority.
“Coalitions have not worked. We are gunning for a decisive and majority victory. If coalition governments have to happen, it will reflect the will of the voters,” Mbalula said.
He also defended his party's decision not to announce its mayoral candidate prior to the elections, saying “we are not in the fashion of announcing mayoral candidates.”
Mbalula said they would do so after the results are announced, and his party would then hold rigorous interviews for the selection of mayors.
“We had, in the past, announced mayoral candidates ahead of the elections, and that proved to have been a disaster. This time around, we want people with skills and capacity. We will find those candidates through those interviews,” Mbalula said.
The party also announced its intention to regain control of the City of Tshwane and retain control of Johannesburg. Tshwane has been under a DA-led coalition since 2016, while the ANC retained Johannesburg in December last year, following collapse of the DA-EFF coalition, and the earlier resignation of former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
Mbalula announced that their party was hosting their election manifesto, in Tshwane, on September 27, which was a clear indication of their intention to rule the city again.
Reacting to a series of protest marches to Luthuli House, and other provincial headquarters, about the alleged manipulation of candidates, Mbalula said ANC councillors, who were fraudulently elected, and others imposed by bypassing party sanctioned community meetings, would be removed as party representatives, in various municipal councils across the country.
Mbalula was, in his bid .
Mbalula also wanted to retain the support and votes of various agitated ANC members, following the exclusion of candidates who were elected during community meetings, saying he did not want to see a repeat of what happened in Tlokwe 2011, after his party lost seats to independent candidates, who were formerly ANC councillors.
Since last month, aggrieved ANC members marched to Luthuli House – the ANC headquarters – and various provincial headquarters, to demand the removal of “fake candidates”.
Unhappy with the apparent slow pace of reaction to their demands, some of the members threatened to boycott the polls, while others vowed to vote for independent candidates.
Appearing to attempt to soothe their sentiments, Mbalula said: “It is the ANC’s conviction that our voters must have a final say on the selection of comrades who should form part of the local government. This approach gives concrete expression to the Freedom Charter vision that ’The people shall govern’.
“The democratic nature of the ANC’s internal processes on candidate selection has generated unprecedented interest from communities, throughout the country.
“This has also resulted in robust contest among the candidates, and we have been inundated with disputes,” he said.
He said the ANC electoral committee, under Kgalema Motlanthe, has established rules for the candidate selection process – with guidelines on the resolution of the disputes, saying the directive of the electoral committee was that all disputes should be lodged with the provincial list committees (PLCs), and appeals against the PLC verdicts should be lodged with the electoral committee for final decisions.
“In the spirit of renewal within the ANC, the electoral committee has directed that all disputes, lodged in accordance with the rules, must be attended to. In some instances, there are serious allegations of transgressions, including the manipulation of candidate lists. All these matters are being investigated by the relevant ANC structures, so that disciplinary and legal action could be taken against the transgressors,” Mbalula said.