ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening featured as the keynote speaker to outline the ANC’s plans for municipalities ahead of this year’s local government elections.
He was joined by former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, with former president Jacob Zuma a noticeable but expected absence following his recent release to Nkandla on medical parole after he was imprisoned for showing contempt to the Constitutional Court.
It was announced today that the head of corrections services, Arthur Fraser, who single-handedly made the decision to send Zuma home, has been replaced by an acting head.
The illness Zuma is suffering from is still unknown.
Ramaphosa was given cheers by the relatively small crowd observing the limit of no more than 500 people during the Covid lockdown when he wished Zuma a “speedy recovery”. This despite Zuma recently accusing Ramaphosa of presiding over a “constitutional dictatorship” and his daughter Duduzile Sambudla-Zuma insulting the ANC by calling it the “Apartheid National Congress” and rebranding it in the colours of the old South African flag.
During Zuma’s tenure, Mbeki refused to campaign and endorse the ANC, but he did so during the 2019 elections and was once again visible on Monday.
Prior to Ramaphosa’s address, numerous speakers, including the heads of the tripartite alliance (the SA Communist Party and Congress of SA Trade Unions), extolled the virtues and achievements of the ANC and encouraged voters to once again support the party in the polls on 1 November this year.
During his address, Ramaphosa touched on what he claimed to be the successes of the ANC government, including the supposed fight against corruption, initiatives to create jobs and grow the economy, improved service delivery and the implementation of other reforms. He said the country’s institutions were being “revitalised” and that the ANC would commit itself to turning local governments around in a way that was similar to how this was being done nationally.
“Now is the time to focus on local government and we intend to do exactly that.”
Ramaphosa said more people now had access to water, electricity and other basic services, thanks to the ANC.
He said more than 3 million were benefiting from free basic water supply and 2 million were getting free electricity.
“That is what I call a caring government.”
Among many other things, Ramaphosa announced that red tape would be cut for small businesses, including the scrapping of fees.
He undertook that “the best people” would be appointed to run municipalities in future, a process that was overseen by Motlanthe. Ramaphosa claimed the ANC was the only party that had involved communities directly in the selection of councillor candidates with a strong record of service and who were rooted in their communities.
At least a quarter of the candidates are young people, while nearly half are women. “They will learn from our mistakes and take local government into a new era.”
Municipal staff would have to be “competent”.
“All the people we are going to deploy will be competent and serve the interests of our people. We don’t want fly-by-nights.”
Ramaphosa acknowledged that the ANC had lost control of Tshwane and other metros after ANC voters did not support the party in 2016 due to allegations of state capture. He said that the service delivery failure that had afflicted coalition governments since then had hurt residents and he implored voters to once again give the ANC majorities in major metros.
Tshwane is currently being led by a coalition fronted by the Democratic Alliance.
Watch the rest of the ANC’s manifesto announcement below: