How ANC will fight elections

The ANC in Gauteng is looking to regain lost ground at next year’s polls after a serious hammering in 2014, where the party’s popularity declined by 10%.

The man tasked with steering the governing party to victory is former youth league leader Lebogang Maile, whose bid to become Gauteng ANC deputy provincial chairperson failed last month.

In 2014, the ANC chalked up its failure to “national issues” that discouraged voters, including the e-tolls and Jacob Zuma’s presidency.

Heading to next year’s election, Maile said the party would have to contend with a sluggish economy that saw mostly young people left unemployed.

“The inequality gap has widened. In certain areas there are service delivery challenges and e-tolls are still a problem yet to be resolved,” Maile said this week.

“There are a lot of challenges and the question is, are we doing something to deal with those challenges? I think yes we are. We took radical resolutions at Nasrec to move faster on issues of free education and land, among others. So there is a commitment from the ANC and the newly elected leadership.”

After winning the major metros from the ANC in the 2016 local government elections, opposition parties will look to govern the entire Gauteng by coalition.

Maile was dismissive of this possibility, saying the same threat was made in 2014, but failed to materialise.

“We are confident about winning, but at the same time we are not resting on our laurels. We know victory is not going to come easily. We have to stay focused, we need to increase the number of voters, especially young people, and make sure that on the day of elections the overwhelming majority of registered voters go out to vote.”

Young people aged between 20 and 40 are the majority in the province.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) believes the 10% it garnered in Gauteng in 2014 came directly from the ANC, but Maile said this was not the case.

“The number of voters at every election does not remain static, it actually increases, so I think that would be a very simplistic explanation. It doesn’t mean that we have not lost any support to the EFF, we have and that worries us. We can’t be denialist about it because if we do we will not be able to attend to the root of the problems and we believe that the lost ground can be recovered,” he said.

“When you look at the 2016 elections, most of our core supporters, where we are strong, did not vote for other parties, they stayed at home. They are still loyal to the ANC, so the support lost to the EFF is just a fraction, it is not significant.

“Our base is still there, it just needs to be serviced. Our people want us to respond better to the issues they are raising and that is what we are doing.”

While Zuma was a previous national bone of contention, the albatross around the Gauteng ANC’s neck is the return of Brian Hlongwa and Qedani Mahlangu to the provincial executive committee.

Both former health MECs, Hlongwa was implicated in corruption while Mahlangu was disgraced by the Life Esidimeni scandal.

“We believe in justice and equal rights as enshrined in the Constitution and we all want to make sure that there is justice for everyone at the end of the day.

“As the ANC, we have said that we are attending to the issues through the integrity commission. Even hardened criminals are tried in court; let us allow the processes and I am confident that the commission will work fast. I don’t think it is fair to create an impression that we are not acting on corruption. We have dismissed people, we have appointed a committee that deals with ethics in government, but we are saying let us follow process,” Maile said.