ANC must win back trust of members, says Mabuyane
Eastern Cape provincial chair charms Patensie, Hankey communities, but emphasises elections victory could be ‘last chance’ at redemption for party in the province
At the back of the MercedesBenz hang a navy blue jacket and a suit carrier and a few more clothing items are scattered around.
The boot is filled with ANC T-shirts, bundles of the party’s branded doeks and a cooler bag.
The car stops at the curiously named Cyril Ramaphosa village, overlooking a row of RDP houses in Patensie, one of the poorest farming communities in the Eastern Cape.
Out steps ANC Eastern Cape chair Oscar Mabuyane, to begin his last stretch of campaigning 24-hours before SA’s national elections earlier this week, that is likely to pave the way for him to take over as premier of the province.
In front of him are two elderly women, one leaning against her barbed-wire fence and another dancing to the music blaring from speakers hoisted on a top of a nearby ANC campaign van.
A far cry from the familiarity that often surrounds Mabuyane on the eastern side of the province, the women only see another politician from whom they can get a T-shirt.
Nonetheless, they seem excited and, all amped up , Mabuyane walks towards them, greets and introduces himself.
Someone chimes in that he is the ANC’s provincial chair.
“Ooh, I’ve heard him on the radio,” one of the women says.
As soon as he hands out Tshirts and doeks, curious onlookers start to gather around, also wanting their own.
“I spent 14 days in prison in 1986 fighting against the use of the word k***ir,” Buyelwa Swartbooi, 63, said.
“So voting is very important to me because I did not always have the right to do so.”
Nomalanga Qandana, 80, said her husband had died a member of the ANC – and she would too.
Mabuyane thanked them and proceeded to other homes..
Recently named the Eastern Cape town of the year, the story of Patensie is also, similar to many parts of the province, that of inequality and unemployment with the devastating drought placing further strain on the farming economy.
On this visit however, there is not much engagement on any matters beyond the freeflow of T-shirts and the assurance of loyalty votes.
Similarly, in Centerton taxi rank in Hankey where Mabuyane makes his next appearance, few recognise him as he walks besides regional ANC leader Scara Njadayi.
As soon as he is introduced, the older women gravitate towards him asking to take pictures with him.
Mabuyane tells the crowd the ANC will work very hard to address their service delivery needs, promising to come back for a proper meeting.
Speaking on the sidelines, Mabuyane said the elections were very difficult “so we’ll have to learn from this and deal with people’s issues because they are very simple and not complicated”.
The ANC in the province went on to hold on to power in this week’s national elections, albeit with a reduced majority of 68.74%.
“The first 100 days must be very effective, address lowhanging issues, have quick wins and develop long-term [solutions] because we’ve started a process – the mid-term strategic framework that will inform the next five years for departments,” he said.
But first, the ANC must elect representatives to the legislature and put a provincial cabinet together.
Asked how the party would navigate itself through its factional divides and the fight for patronage, Mabuyane explained that the decision of who would be elected MEC would be left to the ANC provincial deployment committee to make.
Mabuyane also leads that committee.
“The premier in consultation with the deployment committee will be able to announce the cabinet which will also play a part in how the cabinet will look like.
“We’re going to respect that process,” he said.
“It is not a question of trying to balance factions when putting together a team because we have listened to people and we will have a team that is capable, equal to the task and that must rise to the occasion.
“It is no longer about people you are comfortable with but people who are going to protect the ANC and help the ANC bridge the gap, deal with the trust deficit that we have been suffering from because you can see that people are giving the ANC a last chance.
“It could literally be the last chance.
“If the ANC wins and doesn’t turn things around, I can tell you that the next election, 2021, will be the most difficult election that we will ever experience,” Mabuyane said.