I observed the Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting, which left me wondering what direction the opposition party (the ANC) would take. I have gone through the council meeting in my head and had to go through it again at home to reflect clearly on what I had witnessed in the Feather Market Centre and to understand if this is the type of misguided opposition politics that the ANC caucus will offer the voters of this metro for it to regain control.
I think from a political and ideological pedestal that the ANC is renowned to assume as the “disciplined force of the left”, it needs to make a thorough introspection, not guided by the resolutions taken at its NEC meeting, but understanding what the challenges are for it in places where it has won wards and expeditiously ensure that it addresses such challenges for the betterment of our people.
The ANC also needs to make a serious and conscious analysis of its delegation in council as to whether it will be up to the task of ensuring that it provides a credible and efficient opposition.
The DA is renowned for fielding its great minds in the respective legislative bodies of our country with the ANC lagging behind with the “old guard” and “struggle icons” who happen to sleep during debates or rather have no concrete explanations when in government nor in opposition. This is what I believe led to it losing power in the City of Cape Town and eventually losing it in the province due to its complacency with the old guard (guarding the revolution).
During the proceedings in council when the mayor was elected, it was evident that the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality needs what I term a Malema, Shivambu and Ndlozi “effect” that does not only understand the configuration of our constitutional liberal democracy but is also able clearly to articulate researched policy propositions and respond to the speaker of council without having to look into its pockets.
I think the ANC needs now to bring in its organic intellectuals, particularly on its PR list, who will be able to match the DA’s intellectual prowess in council. The likes of Gift Ngqondi, Dali Jacobs, Msingathi Sipuka and Simphiwe Madlavu will need to be brought into the fray if the ANC wishes to be credible as an opposition and present arguments that are convincing to the majority of our city, lest it be relegated to an opposition that has no content.
While observing the proceedings, the Andile Lungisa and Makhi Feni contingent is relevant for our contemporary politics but without the “effect” it will soon collapse as I do not foresee a situation where the ANC “old guard” of Andile Mfunda, Litho Suka and Bicks Ndoni being able to match and clearly articulate with the likes of Nqaba Bhanga and Samantha Beynon in council.
I believe that the EFF will also work well with the ANC in the metro as the opposition because those comrades and fighters know each other and are not far apart in their understanding of service delivery challenges that afflict our communities.
However, the EFF also needs to ensure that it does not only replicate the regalia worn by its national leadership in parliament, but translates it into the robust politics that the EFF is renowned for, particularly where it has the potential to maximise its visibility and presence.