Senior ANC leaders associated with former president Jacob Zuma have been accused of taking on a low profile during this year’s ANC election campaign.
Allies of President Cyril Ramaphosa have bemoaned the lack of visibility of the likes of Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, David Mahlobo and Supra Mahumapelo in the election campaign – although the party has officially tried to downplay this by saying that “they are working on the ground”.
Labour federation Cosatu has called for disciplinary measures to be taken against anyone trying to undermine Ramaphosa’s campaign.
A national executive committee (NEC) member said they believed that it was part of an elaborate plan to cut the ANC’s electoral margin and use that later to attack Ramaphosa’s standing at the party’s national general council next year.
Many leaders who were at the forefront of the fanfare in Zuma’s 2014 and 2016 election campaigns are notably not as visible as before.
The party’s youth and women’s leagues, and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association have been conspicuous by their absence.
Solly Mapaila, the first deputy general secretary of the SA Communist Party (SACP), said on Friday that leaders should not “commit a strategic error and think that you are punishing certain leaders in the ANC or the alliance”.
“This is about our revolution, and therefore everyone must come out and participate in the election process, whether you are on the list or not,” he added.
He said the fact that Parliament had risen meant that ANC MPs were expected to do political work for the party.
“We expect to see all these comrades on the campaign trail. Please, leave your anger behind; come join the campaign trail. Let’s win the elections.
“Let’s go and sit, as the movement, on our own and solve our internal problems.”
Mapaila added that the SACP would seek answers from the ANC.
But ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula said many party leaders were on the ground campaigning.
He said Mokonyane, a former ANC head of elections and organising, was not campaigning because she had a “delicate” situation at home.
“We view it as an act of treason. Our view is that at this point in time, it is not acceptable that with so few days left for electioneering, we should be staying at home and not campaigning.
Mbalula said Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was campaigning, but she was not in the media spotlight.
“She is on the ground. Many of the ANC leaders are on the ground. I think the weakness is that we are not exposed to their programmes. We will have to address that on our part. They are on the ground. They work very hard.”
Mbalula said the ANC’s campaign was being led by Ramaphosa and the officials.
“We are 39 days away to what we call victory. We are not at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. We are here on the ground all over. Other NEC members are also spread all over on the ground.”
Cosatu’s first deputy president, Mike Shingange, called on the ANC to rein in party members not campaigning for the party.
“We view it as an act of treason. Our view is that at this point in time, it is not acceptable that with so few days left for electioneering, we should be staying at home and not campaigning. We think that if these people are known, the ANC should rein them in.”
A senior ANC leader said Zuma’s supporters were not campaigning because they wanted to weaken Ramaphosa.
The person said most of Zuma’s loyalists had fought hard to be included on the election list so that they could anchor the removal of Ramaphosa.
“Their fightback strategy is well resourced. They have nothing to lose. They don’t care whether the ANC wins or loses elections. Most of them are aware that they are not coming back as ministers after elections. They know that if Cyril continues to be the president, they will go to jail.”
A leader of the ANC in Limpopo said that since October last year, it had become clear that the Zuma group were folding their hands.
The person said the party’s low voter registration statistics in the Sekhukhune region in Groblersdal had been blamed on ANC activists dragging their feet.
The leader said they were aware that Limpopo’s Zuma core had met soon after the January election manifesto rally in KwaZulu-Natal, where it was agreed that they would take their deliberate stance against Ramaphosa.
In the North West, the opposition was counting on information that Mahumapelo’s supporters were planning to abstain from voting, spoil the ballot or vote for minor parties such as the African Transformation Movement, as part of the rebellion against Ramaphosa.
In KwaZulu-Natal, Black First Land First and other parties that had mushroomed around Zuma were pushing to split the ANC’s national vote by lobbying for anti-Ramaphosa elements to vote in their favour.
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