Address by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP, during the debate on the 2016 Local Government Elections in the National Assembly on 23 August 2016
As we review the results of the 2016 Local Government Elections, it is important that we consider their significance beyond their effect on our own political fortunes.
I wish therefore at this stage to begin by summarising the message my comrades have made before this august House during this debate:
These elections affirmed the strength and vibrancy of our democracy.
Therefore, it is with this in mind that we thank the 15m South Africans who exercised their right to vote and extend a special acknowledgement to the 8.1m South Africans who voted for the African National Congress to represent them in local government on August 3rd.
We appreciate the faith you have placed in us, and are dedicated to using the mandate you have given us, to advance people’s power in every community.
For the ANC, elections are about obtaining political power and utilising it to advance the National Democratic Revolution – that is, the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous South Africa.
We seek to wield the instruments of state in line with the ideals reflected in the National Constitution, to create a more socially-just society.
While we appreciate this confidence shown by 54% of voters, our electoral decline makes the patent statement that a significant number of South Africans who include loyal ANC supporters who did not give their vote to another party, but stayed home on election day, have felt the ANC had not earned their vote this time.
In focusing on the votes we have not gained rather than the victory we obviously scored, we are not snubbing those that endured long queues to vote for us, but we are paying attention to the issues that they and those that did not vote wanted us to understand.
We have been humbled and are listening to our people, even in spite of our political opponents who are watching on in glee at what they believe is our comeuppance.
Make no mistake: we remain convinced of the righteousness of our struggle, to lead a National Democratic Revolution.
This is the overarching vision which animates us, and yet it does not exempt us from the scrutiny of voters, who as active citizens, must hold us accountable for our leadership on their behalf, always asking – at and between elections – is the African National Congress demonstrating the best possible leadership on our behalf?
As such a revolutionary movement executing a far-reaching political and socio-economic revolution, we view the votes we receive from the public as an important statement of faith and affirmation for the revolution we are leading.
For us, elections are about creating further beach-heads to carry forward the ideals of our revolution in a society characterised by fundamental contradictions between those hell-bent on defending ill-gotten minority privileges and those fighting to turn the current system on its head, to create a new society based on social justice, equality and total emancipation.
This was and will always remain for the foreseeable future, until the goals of the NDR are realised, the fundamental question posed by elections and therefore these elections were not about choosing between so-called “good-governance modernists” and those still stuck in the struggle mindset.
Because, ultimately, when all the voting is done, and office bearers elected, the fundamental question remains – what policies and programmes will those in office implement the first day they get to the office!
Do they have policies to restore to the landless and destitute their fundamental rights to the land and housing, will they give the poor water and electricity, will they give the students access to free wifi hotspots?
At the end of the day, so-called “good governance” on its own will not deliver employment equity and black economic transformation, it will not deliver land to the victims of the 1913 Natives Land Act and give the poor access to water, electricity and housing!
However, we understand the message of our electorate that these elections were not just or perhaps mainly about service delivery, but rather about values, principles and loss of vision!
This then calls for the ANC to regenerate itself, renew its core values and reaffirm the promise of 1994, when President Mandela ascended the heights of the Union Buildings with a promise that “out of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.”
Accordingly, as we see the significant derailment of our revolution that has been occasioned by these developments, we are correct to be concerned.
We cannot wallow in permanent self-criticism and self-pity, as we ponder the way forward, we must recognise that the terrain in which we execute our revolution has changed significantly.
The Western Cape and significant portions of the Eastern Cape, including Tshwane and Johannesburg have now returned to the descendants of both the Cape Colonists and the Transvaal Boer Republic of Paul Kruger that existed prior to the so-called Anglo-Boer War of 1899 – 1902.
This restoration of the colonial governments of the past will see to it that white monopoly capital effectively gains a significant foothold into political power and the civil service which they had lost in 1994.
Revolutionaries must disabuse themselves of the notion that the DA – EFF coalition governments are going to collapse under the heavy pressure of policy and political contradictions.
In the first instance, nowhere in the world does there exist a coalition between a neo-liberal and a pseudo-leftist political party.
This is a coalition that should never have happened!
But it has happened; and we must expect that those that pull the strings of these political misfits will never allow any amount of petty political bickering among their puppets to jeopardise a moment they have worked so hard to achieve.
After all, both the main protagonists to the coalition are not merely in coalition with white monopoly capital and its international allies, they were, in actual fact, created by these, they are funded by them and hence they take their instructions from the dinner tables and private meetings in the big capitals of this world dead-set to restore South Africa as an imperialist outpost in Africa.
That is why their focus on free education is government and not white monopoly capital which alone holds sufficient resources to wipe away the students debt and still be able to fund higher education for the poor in South Africa.
However, the DA-EFF shot gun marriage represents opportunism, short-termism and instability as a result of which instead of laying the basis for more effective municipal governance, the citizens of the municipalities which this coalition now governs will experience a period of instability, horse-trading and petty political manoeuvring rather than a focus on sustained fundamental transformation.
A great and difficult struggle lies ahead to stave off the counter-revolutionary upsurge in our country whose liberation from the yoke of colonial bondage we fought so hard to achieve.
The idea that the Cape Town model can be exported to other metros is deeply flawed both because Cape Town has certain historical advantages the other metros do not have and because they have different demographic realities.
The DA’s electoral success in Cape Town has been based on sowing anti-African prejudice and uniting the other racial groups against Africans, which has made it to be one of the most unequal cities in the world.
Hon. Maimane has a very myopic view of race relations in our country, strangely for a leader of a party that harbours in its pitiful ranks all sorts of racists and bigots.
Attacking racism and racial privilege, the very reason President Mandela spent the best of his young life in prison, is not about implanting fear but addressing the fundamental basis for the national grievance of the people that the Hon. Maimane has long abandoned when he jumped into the arms of neo-liberalism.
Understandably, his is a party deeply in denial about the systemic features of South Africa’s political economic legacy which continues to reproduce racialized inequality, poverty and unemployment.
They talk about “change”, but they have never explained to anyone what this change is about except to keep regurgitating the story of “good governance”.
The change they talk about is a change back to the past, to the era when Milner was Governor of the Cape Colony and Kruger was President of the Transvaal Republic, where Africans and blacks in general were excluded from the seat of privilege and marginalised, merely because of their race.
Whatever change they will implement aimed at impacting positively on these black majorities will be intended for window-dressing.
Indeed, I concur with our opposition speakers that these elections were a tipping point: they laid bare the fault-lines in our country and exposed everyone for who they are!
As for those EFF members that genuinely believe that their organisation is or should be a left-wing radical organisation, that belief has now been proven to be misguided.
Only an internal revolt from within its more genuine members can save the EFF now from an inevitable calamity.
Over the next few years, white monopoly capital is going to get more buoyant and arrogant, trying its very best to unseat the ANC.
But, we promise, this time, we have learned our lesson and they will meet their match!
When all is said and done, elections are an opportunity for the masses of our people, excluded from the economy, pushed to the periphery of our cities, without financial resources, and corporate clout, and representation by the media elite, to seize political power, to win, through the sheer might of their numbers and clarity of purpose, a seat at the table as well as inclusion in the economy, to win dignity.
Ultimately, the future of South Africa still rests with the ANC; but this must be an ANC that modestly, honestly and attentively hears the message of our broad constituency.
It is the aggregate hope of all the people who never mattered in this country, until the ANC insisted that they did matter.
So scare is the DA Chief Whip of me that he decided to respond to me before I even stepped onto the podium and favoured him with my remarks.
He would offer me no courtesies!
Finally, I wish to conclude by quoting from a poem by Tennison:
“Tho’ much is taken, much abides;
We are not now that strength which
in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that
which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but
strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not
For even now, we say the struggle continues!
Issued by the ANC, 23 August 2016