Gauteng MEC of education and prominent ANC leader wrote on his Facebook timeline that “We shall overcome! Battles lines drawn” while the EFF was giving its press conference in Alexandra in which it declared that it would be voting against the ANC at every opportunity.
The opposition party added that although it viewed the DA as a “party for racists”, it was the “better devil” and they would therefore choose the DA over the ANC in councils in hung metros, even though no coalition deal had been struck with the DA by the EFF.
The ANC had been trying to strike coalition agreements with the EFF, with several Gauteng leaders reportedly involved in the negotiations. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe reporters on Sunday after the NEC’s four-day gathering in Irene, Gauteng, that five ANC members had been tasked with the role of facilitating coalition talks with different parties, including the EFF. The notion that an opposition party could dictate who should be the ANC president, though, was not one he and others on the national executive committee (NEC) were willing to entertain.
In response to one of Lesufi’s Facebook friends telling him that the current ANC’s national leadership was “collectively useless”, Lesufi responded that the fearless needed to “raise their hands. It’s time up.”
When another friend said that it was perhaps time to call for an early elective conference to get rid of the party’s current NEC led by President Jacob Zuma, Lesufi responded that elective conferences should always be a last resort and were not an option.
In response to another person asking which battle lines in particular Lesufi was referring to, he said that people were “either with us or with them”.
His statements should be viewed in relation to the much-reported on “factionalism” in the ANC, which Mantashe said on Sunday would be eliminated from the party. That might prove harder than the few lines about it in the ANC press release might suggest.
You might also argue that Lesufi’s comments were in relation to the ANC against the EFF, DA and other opposition parties, but that was not the thrust of the Facebook thread in its entirety in any way.
The clearest dividing line in the party is that between its Gauteng leadership and national leaders. Gauteng provincial executive committee members, Lesufi included, did not vote for Zuma at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in 2012, preferring Kgalema Motlanthe. The provincial premier, David Makhura, made a plea to voters ahead of the August 3 elections not to punish the provincial leadership for the fact that Zuma was full of scandal and national government had imposed unpopular decisions and on the province, most notably e-tolls.
Now, in the wake of the EFF’s declaration that it will be doing everything it can to remove the ANC from power wherever possible, leaders such as Lesufi have reason to fear that the ANC may ultimately lose power in the province completely.
And then the Swallows supporter and promoter of tablets for all his province’s pupils may find himself out of a job come 2019.
Although MEC positions are the product of provincial elections, which took place in 2014, the ANC had to admit over the weekend that, had the last election been a provincial one, the ANC would have lost control of the entire province.