Can the ANC Western Cape Leadership lead beyond a 2014 elections victory?
I have somewhere contended that the SACC (South African Council of Churches), that once pristine an unparalleled organisation, laboured so hard as surrogate mother to carry the pregnancy of Freedom. It was stretched in all facets to make possible the birth of the proverbial baby we all fought for, yet it was not capable to go beyond the maternity room and raise this proverbial child called Freedom who is now almost an adult at 20 years.
I was reflecting on the conclusion I draw on the SACC and its relevance historically then and its almost irrelevance now, when I pondered on the Western Cape and the chance of the ANC taking it in 2014.
My controversial and perhaps not expected question therefore is has the ANC Western Cape healed from all its internal personality based driven issues, to lead the Western Cape from 2014 in collective and focused vision forward of dealing with the triplets of unemployment, inequality and poverty.
It is one thing to seek to win an election it is something else to win an election with a collective and solid leadership that understands the bigger picture, one that is conscious of the current and in visionary sense can appropriate this moment as the seed of the tomorrow.
The premise for my question emanates from the fact that the DA (Democratic Alliance) nationally but more so in the Western Cape is visibly vulnerable and shaken, due to a sustained campaign. The current ANC leadership has been aerating the proverbial soil of elections victory and runs a consistent and vibrant campaign to keep the pressure on the DA. Looking back over the last year one can see different moments when the DA has shown this growing and now vulnerability and at times a pervasive ineptness to deal with the issues of the Western Cape in a constructive and coherent sense.
A litany of incidents and events attest to this confirmed structural weakness in the DA. These include amongst others the Save our Schools campaign, the De Doorns farm worker saga and issues, the Khayalitsha community toilet saga, the many on-going community based protests. The glaring lack of grasp of the plight of the poor of the Western Cape for the DA leadership. The ANC even at times proved a better student for beating the DA at its own game of running to courts and coming back with victories.
The frustration for Helen Zille with the internal squabbles of succession demands. The toxic internal jostling for power by contending forces mirrored in liberal and conservative DA members who in recent months flared openly showing the chasms of a crested ideology divide. At times purely along ‘white’ and ‘black’ divide. A clear contestation for the soul of the DA.
The contestation for the soul of the DA in right and left wing of liberalism policy confusion of issues like BEE, Employment Equity and Affirmative Action which saw its leader having to clarify through first admitting error in lack of leadership grasp are the undeniable signs of a soft belly. The most recent rebuke from its former leader Tony Leon who rightly or wrongly still has a bone to pick with this current leadership.
These and many other concomitant issues have rendered the DA a very vulnerable and less secured in approach of 2014 elections.
Anyone who has studied Helen Zille will know she simply does not do well with sustained critique and pressure, therefore if you keep peppering her with critique she will at some point to relent, loose her cool, and react emotionally. When she resorts to her normal emotional response she is usually very careless and irrational rendering her to eventually having to apologise for foolish tweets or statements made.
The recent Saldanha outrage and walk out attest to my contention. Yet it also introduces us again to the poor in the Western Cape who with the relentless action and protests echoes the words of Rosa Parks of the Montgomery Bus boycott “my feets are tired.”
Mrs. Zille the poor of the Western Cape’s feets are tired. When they see, the DA for who it as a predominantly liberal yet “white” wealth concentrated and interest based group organisation. Their feets are tired when they surmise the DA will never be able to understand neither serve the poor in basic amenities and afforded dignity for any attempt at doing is diametrically opposed the fundamental essence of who the DA is in its history, present and foreseeable future.
The ANC knows if they want to deal with the DA, they must upset Helen Zille because the DA is Helen and Helen is the DA.
I’m saying this to say the Western Cape is up for grabs in colloquial sense because of the sterling work done so far in campaigning against a sitting leadership. Yet as we know now that is one side of the proverbial coin immanent in plausible victory.
The other half is conscientious and strategic leadership. A leadership that is not making noise but working on changing lives through a meticulous plan that inculcates the various sectors of the Western Cape cognizant that it takes a village to raise a child. Present minded that leadership must balance the diverse sectors interest and can hardly afford to discount any sector in arrogance of we do not need them.
Yet I ask again if the ANC leadership can rise beyond political rhetoric and lead the Western Cape for it is within its reach to take it.
In my assessment victory is a matter of visionary and strategic leadership immanent in understanding it is more than just attacking the DA it is the ability to produce a sustainable plan unless we have just learnt to be oppositional.
It is important to respect and acknowledge the Western Cape voters for they are the only province that has in post- Apartheid democracy literally shown both the ANC and the DA we will vote for you and against you. It is perhaps the only province that has truly exercised their democratic franchise to choose leaderships informed by their preference if the singular fact of past elections is the yardstick. I am not suggesting others did not; the point is the Western Cape unlike others has had both ANC and DA leaderships. Thus, nobody is guaranteed success in the Western Cape it remains for this reason a more sophisticated constituency to convince. This is a fundamental point to make and one less talked about or analysed.
The people of the Western Cape deserve constructive leadership that is poor – focused not just for electioneering fodder.
The voters of the Western Cape needs decisive trusted leadership that is not just loud on petty coat issues but can intellectually engage to a betterment of the collective Western Cape.
The voters of the Western Cape deserve an ANC leadership that is principled and will discern the real constituency not factionalized pockets of leadership immanent in petty agendas and some who easily become inebriated on borrowed power. All power is borrowed therefore those you reject and mistook for nobodies may very possibly become your boss in the foreseeable future.
If the ANC in the Western Cape is serious about taking the province from a vulnerable and wobbling DA leadership it must in reciprocity recognize Tripartite Alliance members and leaderships and forget the mundane personal politics of personalities.
The Tripartite Alliance in the Western Cape must find a way to deal with the often personality based cheap agendas that easily can beset it and quit assuming positions are forever defined by names.
If the ANC in the Western Cape is serious about taking the 2014 elections it must become serious about the Pentecostal Christian Church as a significant constituency in the Western Cape and stop placing emphasis where it does not rightfully belong in religious assumption of minority definition.
If the ANC in the Western Capes is serious about taking the province in leading it must recover unnecessary lost ground on the issue of the Khoi-San relevance. It failed to seize the opportune moment and perhaps did not take the various proposals submitted and advice offered because it had shown truculence in being decisive and strategic on the matter.
We all know how conflated the Khoi-San issues are yet that cannot be an excuse for inaction on the part of the ANC in proving shy to lead lead this legitimate issue thus affording the Conservative Party of Mulder space to seize ground. It remains my sincere conviction that the Western Cape ANC leadership should have led the country in giving the ANC direction how to deal with the issue. If not leading it should have been bold enough to broach the subject in organisational setting. A clear missed opportunity. It even afforded space to the DA to raise the critical debate in which the ANC in Western Cape as elsewhere remain silent and lacklustre.
The ANC in the Western Cape failed in strategic sense to lead on the employment equity and labour parity issues for Coloureds who beyond any question remain a majority in the Western Cape. This issue could have been handled in partnership with its Tripartite Alliance Partner COSATU, if personalities could have remained focused on the greater goal.
The ANC Western Cape failed to ventilate the core issues this aspect raises until it afforded a self-centred Afri-Forum to defend Coloureds in Correctional Services and win significant cases in courts on behalf of a constituency the ANC easily must claim rightfully as theirs.
The Western Cape is up for grabs, but we need strategic and in touch leadership. Drumming up volunteers is crucial for any campaign yet what happens when the prize is won. Volunteerism gains momentum when leadership remains strategic and goal oriented and can show the path even when the shadows of nightfall winks.
I want the ANC to take the Province of my birth, Western Cape, but I have reservations if the challenges of yesteryear will not manifest again. The last time the ANC led, it was under a Rasool, it is clear we have two distinct and different in approach leaders between Rasool and Fransman. Some even talk about the ‘more-intellectual’ Rasool and the ‘more-populist’ Fransman. Yet I do not share these sentiments because I sincerely hold each leader has made his best contribution. I am of the view Fransman has done the spadework in attack and has led a strategic campaign that sees the DA’s knees buckling, therefore his legacy if the ANC wins in 2014 will be this excellent piece of work he did.
I shall ask again can this leadership who fought so hard this last 4/5 years, who vociferously campaigned so strong and who has as it seems managed to prove the DA vulnerable raise the freedom it potentially will give birth to in April of 2014. For it is in pregnancy terms at least 4 months pregnant to deliver on the due date.
Yet will this ANC –Western Cape leadership like the SACC also remain in the proverbial maternity ward when the child surnamed Freedom Western Cape steps out and find his own feet. Your guess, is as good as mine, I am not sure….