ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told the media at the end of the party’s four-day meeting in Irene, Gauteng, that the party’s national executive committee (NEC) had spent the past four days analysing the results in the recent municipal elections.
He said the 27 hung municipalities where the ANC failed to achieve an outright majority dominated its attention, particularly the metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.
The NEC saw the ANC’s losses as a blow to the cause of social transformation of South Africa. Mantashe added that they had decided to take urgent steps to reverse the negative trend and said the party would be taking collective responsibility for what went wrong and re-energise party structures to ensure that they moved away from the perception of being arrogant, self-serving, corrupt and distant from the party’s voter base.
“The people have spoken … and in this regard … measures will be taken…”
A nationwide roadshow would be organised to meet with the people to deal with all their issues. He said the party would, in particular, take “action against all who were involved” in the case of councillors manipulating councillor list processes and urgent measures would be taken to “rid the movement of factionalism across the ANC, including within the NEC itself”.
He said they would also cooperate with other parties that shared the ANC’s agenda of social transformation.
“The organisation will immediately embark on training of our councillors to ensure that they lead our councillors in the interests of the people … with integrity. The ANC has resolved to put in place mechanisms to monitor service delivery.
“Although these were local elections, some national issues dominated the elections.”
They would bring stability to state-owned companies “such as SAA, the SABC and Eskom. Relevant government deployees are expected to report on these matters at the next NEC meeting.”
To rid society of the “cancer of corruption”, the ANC would accelerate a programme to fight corruption in this regard. He also said youth programmes would be strengthened.
He spoke about partnerships to grow the economy and to conclude the process on the national minimum wage.
He added that the “principle of no fee increases in tertiary institutions should remain in place to give chance to a consultative engagement with all stakeholders in order to arrive at an economically viable and affordable cost of higher education”.
He said government would need to reprioritise the budget to give effect to the National Development Plan to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality. He said he called on all sectors of society to continue “participating in the national project to build a nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous society”.
He added that the party remained emboldened by the millions of South Africans who had kept faith with the ANC, and they did not take that for granted.
Mantashe thanked the IEC for delivering free, fair and credible elections. He sent his condolences to those who had lost family members during isolated incidents of violence.
“We remain confident that this 104-year-old organisation will overcome it challenges … we reaffirm our commitment to … work together with our people to address all socioeconomic challenges of our country”.
During questions after the media briefing, party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa made it clear that there had been no meetings with anyone from the EFF about possible coalitions during the four-day NEC gathering.
Mantashe said a delegation of the ANC “of five NEC members” had met with the EFF and other parties to talk about coalitions. “It’s not just the EFF, it’s all parties. We met the AIC [African Independent Congress] this morning; we are meeting as many parties as we can.”
He also denied that there was an internal ANC “document that points fingers at anyone in the ANC”. He said there was only a negative narrative that needed to be addressed.
He confirmed there had been no proposal from the floor for President Jacob Zuma to step down. While fielding questions later, in answer to one asking about opposition parties, particularly the EFF demanding that Zuma should step down before they would go into an ANC coalition, Mantashe reiterated that the party had decided that everyone in the party was to blame for the ANC’s poor election performance and they would not point fingers at the president.
“We must all be blamed … leadership – that’s us – must take responsibility.”
As for the EFF’s Zuma demand, he said the ANC would enter any coalition through a process of engagement in which it made clear what it would be willing to do, and what not.
“It’s not just about what they demand. We cannot go into a coalition at all costs just so we can be the governing party.”
He said the party was working on a national coalition agreement with the AIC. Any agreement would not be limited to one particular municipality.
He later denied that the ANC had spent R1 billion on the elections. “It was not even half a billion.”
Towards the end of the press conference he repeated his call for the IEC’s formula for calculating proportional representation to be relooked at, and it would be important to compare South Africa with countries that also used similar systems – but the ANC was not asking for the last election outcomes to be changed.
As for the DA declaring itself the future government of Nelson Mandela Bay, he said that the DA wanting to get rid of BEE and affirmative action was not acceptable. He said it was presumptive to declare that they would know who would emerge as a mayor in any hung municipality.
“Anything you announce before a council meeting where the councillors vote is premature. Those votes will determine who will be the mayor.”