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Protests continue in Tshwane over ANC mayor choice

Politics professor: ‘The NEC’s focus was to try and find someone who can help build bridges between the different factions but I think it has had the opposite effect’.

Protesters burning tires and barricading roads in townships around South Africa’s capital have highlighted divisions in the ruling African National Congress that are threatening the party’s grip on Pretoria and cities including the commercial hub, Johannesburg, in August 3 municipal elections.

The protests erupted on Monday after the ANC’s national executive committee nominated senior parliamentary official Thoko Didiza as its candidate for mayor of the Tshwane municipality, which includes Pretoria, instead of incumbent Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

“This is really bad for the ANC because over and above the factional issues that have been there for quite some time, now there’s the problem in uniting behind a mayoral candidate,” Dirk Kotze, a politics professor at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, said by phone on Tuesday. “The NEC’s focus was to try and find someone who can help build bridges between the different factions but I think it has had the opposite effect.”

Mounting Discontent

While the ANC is still credited with leading the fight against white-minority rule and has won more than 60% support since taking power in 1994, mounting discontent over a lack of basic services and a series of scandals implicating President Jacob Zuma has boosted the opposition’s campaigns.

A June 6-7 survey of 3 000 potential voters in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay by research company Ipsos for broadcaster eNCA showed the ANC is set to lose control of all three municipalities. The Democratic Alliance topped the rankings in Tshwane, with 33% support, while the ANC polled 28% and the Economic Freedom Fighters 10%.

“Tshwane is divided, down the middle,’’ Nkenke Kekana, a spokesman for the ANC in the central Gauteng province, said by phone. “If we are going to start letting branches choose the mayors then there would be revolt. We don’t know why the members choose to go out onto the streets and sought things out. It is the ANC that they vote into power not individuals. We are confident that this will pass.”

Ramokgopa, the ANC’s deputy chairman in Tshwane who has been at loggerheads over recent months with his deputy Mapiti Matsena, told Johannesburg-based PowerFM on Tuesday that he supports Didiza’s nomination as mayor.

“It is always the case that a small number of people are able to generate quite a lot of turmoil,” Sandy Africa, a politics professor at the University of Pretoria, said by phone. “There is no real indication of the extent of the split. Whether this is just a small faction or whether it’s a widespread phenomenon, only a more scientific count would be able to tell us.”

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday that the ANC stands by its decision to nominate Didiza, who was born in Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal. Didiza is currently the chairwoman of Parliament’s second house, the National Council of Provinces.

Mantashe, in a phone interview, described her as a respected senior party leader with at least 20 years experience of service in Tshwane and said she “will continue” as the mayoral candidate. “She’s a resident there,” he said. “It’s a diverse region and we are all migrants here.”

Some party members are mobilising support along ethnic lines to sow divisions within the party, Mantashe said.

The protesting townships of Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Hammanskraal are dominated by migrants from the Tswana and Pedi ethnic groups, many of whom back Ramokgopa.

Didiza’s Support

The 278 municipalities oversee parks, libraries, sanitation, some roads and distribution of electricity and water, and get most of their funding from real-estate taxes and transfers from the national government. The ANC currently controls seven of the country’s eight biggest cities, while the DA runs Cape Town.

Since mayors and municipal councilors are well paid and have sway over the issuing of contracts, the ANC is facing divisions caused by the rise of “ethnic entrepreneurs” who use “ethnic mobilisation” tactics to hold onto power, said Mcebisi Ndletyana, a politics professor at the University of Johannesburg.

“The different factions in Tshwane are fighting back because they don’t want to lose what they expect is coming their way,” the University of South Africa’s Kotze said.

Opposition Coalition

The Ipsos poll showed the ANC had 31% support in Johannesburg, the DA 29% and the EFF 10%. In Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes the city of Port Elizabeth, the DA had 34% backing, the ANC 30% and the EFF 7%. Between 17 and 21% of respondents in each of the cities said they were undecided about who they would vote for. The DA and EFF have said they are prepared to enter into coalitions with other opposition parties but not the ANC.

The Tshwane protests illustrated the difficulties the ANC’s leadership faces in exerting control over the party’s rank-and-file members, Ndletyana said.

“That the feuding groups are rejecting Didiza’s nomination by the senior structures shows that the senior leaders have a deficit of legitimacy and moral authority,” he said.

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The ANC “condemns violence in the strongest possible terms,” spokesman Zizi Kodwa said by phone. Untrue – the ANC promotes violence and the destruction of property simply by not acting to stem it.

Uncle Gweezie please explain “these are not ANC members destroying things”
If the argument is that people are protesting violently/destructively due to the choice of your mayoral candidate – an ANC flunky then who is it that is protesting. Any level headed person could tell you it is the ANC riff raff who are destroying infrastructure and transport – how stupid is the ANC that they can’t see that anything that is destroyed either has to be rebuilt or replaced at a cost, once again taking funds from treasury to meet these imbecile protests.
Gweezie start being responsible and accept the blame for this series of events

those immortal words spoken by a black from alan paton’s cry the beloved country – “I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating”.

The “revolution” has now reach the stage where it is eating itself. ANC comrades are killing one another, cadres are fighting against leadership, mayoral candidates are plotting against Luthuli House and everybody is desperately trying to get their share of the loot.
The ANC is devouring itself, plotting against itself, killing itself, burning itself and destroying the last bit of credibility it had.
This is what happens in an organisation with poor leadership, where those in power are corrupt and acting with impunity.
This marks the end of the ANC rule. The ANC is dead. These barbaric acts are desperate attempts to profit from corruption. These acts of anarchy by ANC members are in fact the stench from a rotting corpse that was the ANC.
Viva the revolution, Viva!

I thought your not supposed to show pictures of ” destruction ” ??
anyway in my eyes the revolution has already started….

After these protests, whoever is nominated as ANC’s candidate for Tshwane, I guess the life expectancy for the person in that position could be limited to a few short weeks.

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