ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said he regretted the party’s handling of divisions in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which led to the party losing control of it last year.
He said the mistake they made was to allow ANC members to continue with petty squabbles while the metro’s ratepayers suffered in silence as service delivery was adversely affected.
“We took too long to deal with factions within our lower structures in Nelson Mandela [Bay Metro], to the detriment of the ANC in that region,” he said.
“We focused on a minority which comprised individuals who were more concerned about their own egos [than] the organisation….”
The Port Elizabeth-based region, whose latest audit outcomes confirmed it has only just over 11000 members, has seen support for the party dwindling since the 2009 elections.
The last straw was when the ANC lost to a DA-led coalition after last year’s August elections. The metro is now among three in the country run by the DA.
It’s thanks to opposition parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters and the United Democratic Movement, both of which are breakaway parties of the ANC, who signed a pact to work with the DA even in Tshwane and Joburg.
Losing Nelson Mandela Bay Metro came after years of factional battles that deeply divided the ANC and forced national bosses to disband its regional executive committee in 2014.
The factional battles at the regional headquarters, Florence Matomela House, spilt over to Port Elizabeth City Hall, affecting service delivery as party politics affected the governing of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
In an exclusive interview with the Saturday Dispatch at the Chris Hani regional offices in Komani on Thursday, Mabuyane admitted their strategy in trying to stabilise the ANC in the region had been wrong.
“We always prioritised the ANC membership, which is a vocal minority and had its own internal dynamics, but forgot to address concerns of the silent majority, who are not ANC members but are part of the millions of South Africans who vote us into [power] in every election,” said Mabuyane.
The loss of the metro occurred during provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle and Mabuyane’s second term of office as ANC leaders.
Mabuyane said the ANC has to be very decisive when dealing with leaders who were guilty of gate-keeping.
Gate-keeping is when leaders do not allow the active participation of members with dissenting voices, to make their preferred leadership choice towards a conference.
They do this by hiding membership forms confirming that a member has paid his or her dues, and therefore qualifies to take part in that particular conference.
“Going forward, we must not allow people to lead the organisation to a state of paralysis when they realise they won’t win a conference,” said Mabuyane. “Some people do as they wish because they have committed to deliver a certain leader before an elective conference.
“That has to come to an end. If you do wrong, you must be dealt with immediately irrespective of who you support in the build-up to a conference.”
The party is preparing for two elective conferences – the provincial one on August 30, and the national one in December. In the provincial race Mabuyane is likely to contest Masualle’s position as chairman. But some branches want Masualle to retain the top position for a third term.
Mabuyane had one bit of advice for whoever wins next month: “When you get elected, you must get your hands dirty on day one and do what you were elected to do without fear or favour.
“You must work as a collective and embrace everyone because the ANC becomes stronger and effective when it is united.” — firstname.lastname@example.org