By Zukile Majova
The ANC has an age-old belief that “Amandla asemasebeni” — meaning the real power comes from the branches.
This used to be true many years ago when ANC branches were vibrant and made up of a mix of people with different interests and from different backgrounds in the community.
They were bound together by a unity of purpose and a fight for improving their circumstances. Back then, an ANC meeting was never just a meeting of ANC members.
It was like an imbizo convened by the village chief — everyone was invited. Whatever was going to be announced by the ANC affected everybody.
No one had an ANC membership card. It was not a prerequisite. The ANC belonged to the community.
It was called “Umbutho wabantu” (the people’s movement). Going to the ANC elective conference, those who were selected to be voting delegates at the conference carried the mandate of the people.
They often brought the conference to a standstill, refusing to betray the mandate of their communities.
To win over the conference, a leader would have to convince and win over those stubborn delegates who often had no ambition for office or tenders.
The concept of brown envelopes on the conference floor was unheard of. There were no candidates raising millions of rands to secure victory.
Back then, you could say “Amandla asemasebeni”.
But that is all gone. Even the ANC branch has been co-opted into the endemic culture of corruption that now defines the ANC.
An ANC branch meeting no longer attracts the very best in the community.
In fact, most ANC branches only mushroom on the eve of an election or ahead of the party’s elective conferences.
Branch meetings are now run by potbellied tenderpreneurs who exclude community members who have no membership cards.
In some cases, they are the same thugs that intimidate the local municipality and shut down municipal projects, demanding a local share of any major tender issued by the council.
They often call themselves the local “business forum”.
Recently the party claimed its councillor candidates were chosen by the community. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ward councillors are still chosen elsewhere and introduced to the different locations in the ward. In the rural areas, a vast area made up of different villages can constitute a ward.
So your ward councillor could be someone who lives five villages away from yours, someone you’ve never heard of.
Mavuso Msimang, the deputy president of the ANC Veterans League who terminated his ANC membership this week, said raising concerns about the rot, the corruption and the mediocrity that is embraced was often met with hostility.
“At worst, those who seek change by raising voices endure slurs, or are met with downright hostility.”
The so-called renewal of the ANC is a sham.
Pictured above: Can the ANC still call itself “Umbutho wabantu” (the people’s movement)?