THE Cape Province and in particular its eastern areas is the desolate landscape of a fallen political giant. Throughout history, from when the first colonisers arrived in 1652, the area has never been a place for the faint-hearted but rather a place permanently characterised by conflict.
The first settlers flooded the Cape Province with soldiers and missionaries for ideological and spiritual indoctrination of the Cape Africans. Later they followed with the cattle wars (from 1730 onwards) and land disposition wars.
The indigenous forces of the Eastern Cape for more than 180 years fought back valiantly against any form of intrusion and domination, setting an African record of political resistance in the process. It was not long before the colonisers adopted a strategy of divide and rule, the native Africans were first divided against the Khoi and then later among themselves according to their diverse tribal clans.
Indeed it was former president Thabo Mbeki who at his epitome of political power supported a less popular Jacob Zuma to be his deputy president at the 1997 ANC Mafikeng conference. It was the same Eastern Cape that first broke ranks to defend an embattled Zuma long before any other province or the Polokwane watershed conference.
The Eastern Cape, owing to historical character, started the informal 2012 ANC succession debate as early as March 2008. Notably the current ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema, has tried in vain to deny the conditional supportive role played by the Eastern Cape in his own “political crowning” in Mangaung which was contingent on a top five position within the leadership collective.
We shall in future demand relevant ministerial and parastatal deployment.
In 2008 the message was clear to Malema or any aspirant ANYL or ANC leader that the Eastern Cape had a decisive bargaining power which comes with terms and should not be taken for granted. In the few days at the national conference of the Youth League history may serve as a cruel reminder to some.
I write under correction and without fear, but I do not recall a single positive reference towards the Eastern Cape from Malema. During his term of office we noted careless utterances when selectively associating Eastern Cape with COPE, the humiliation of Mbeki, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, ANCYL deputy president Andile Lungisa and ANCYL NEC member Stella Ndabeni under his leadership.
It is therefore maybe an opportune time unapologetically to evaluate what the Eastern Cape has achieved in return for its selfless political maturity of prioritising leaders from other provinces over its own. Is the Eastern Cape political bargaining power optimally discharged for its own developmental interest and that of its people?
It is time for our leaders to come back home!
Sivile Mabandla, ANCYL Entabeni branch, Nkonkobe