Role of VL in ANC election campaign

The last couple of days have categorically shown who is decampaigning the ANC.  Former President of the ANC, Jacob Zuma says he can’t campaign for the ANC and will be voting for another political party. Roger Jardine, alleged when he launched his own political party that “This ANC is not the ANC of my parents and grandparents. It is not my ANC and many good people have been silenced in the ANC,”

On the other hand, Mavuso Msimang has agreed to return to the ANC after getting assurances from the leadership that the ANC remains committed to renewal and does not allow anyone tainted with corruption to accept nomination as a public representative,

These developments demonstrate the power of the ANC legacy and the lengths that certain individuals will go to appropriate that legacy to gain or remain in power – all in the so-called interest of saving the country.

The ANC VL, remains convinced that our legacy is not up for grabs and that it is only the ANC who can address the challenges we currently face.    In the context of an economy devastated by Covid, a complicated geopolitical environment and waning confidence in democratic institutions,  what should the ANC do in its election strategy to achieve an election victory?

Firstly and most importantly in our minds, the calibre of our candidates can make or break of decisively winning the elections. We can’t afford to have ANC members who have brought the organisation into disrepute on candidate lists for national or provincial legislatures.  This includes individuals who have been mentioned in the Zondo Commission, VBS scandal and Motlanthe Commission from previous elections.

As agreed in engagements between the VL and the Office of the SG, all those implicated in the Zondo and other commissions of inquiry must appear before the Integrity Commission and be cleared by them to stand as election candidates.  We believe that this process should proceed as a matter of urgency.

Also as a matter of urgency, the ANC must take action against former President Jacob Zuma who has violated the ANC constitution and against the Umkhonto  We Sizwe Party who may be illegally using the name of the former armed wing of the ANC.

We support the election process and criteria that have been approved by the NEC. We welcome the press statement by the Eastern Cape PEC which reiterated and set out their process of finalising the lists in their province.  

In addition to keeping individuals who have brought the ANC into disrepute off election lists, we need to put credible people on the lists who can be trusted and will restore the confidence of the public in the ANC. The election process gives the NEC the power to add names to the list and we hope that they use this opportunity to enhance the election lists. As the VL, we have been and will continue to monitor the nomination process. 

Secondly, we have to show that the renewal of the ANC is happening.  In addition to having credible candidates, we need to actively reconnect with the people and focus on the conduct of ANC members. This means being humble, listening to our people, going door to door or reaching out to our constituencies, our community leaders and our stakeholders.

We must have functional and responsive branches with branch leadership that respects their members and members of the community. This includes things that look small like asking branch members to endure long meetings while we wait for sufficient members to arrive to quorate and loud hailing early on Sunday mornings. And big things like addressing unethical and corrupt behaviour in the ANC.

Thirdly, our election strategy can’t be about attacking the opposition. It needs to be about messages of realism and hope – of what the ANC has to offer and what the country has to lose if the ANC were to be voted out of power – or be in power in a coalition with opportunistic partners. 

We need to highlight what is at stake if the democratic and socio-economic gains we have made are reversed.  And show that despite the difficulties we face, we have the experience and expertise to continue to govern.  We trust that this is what will be the focus of the 2024 election manifesto.

Fourthly, now is not the time to make unrealistic promises, especially about government money which is not there. Let us refocus on empowering people to be the forces of change – whether it is clean-up campaigns or holding unresponsive councillors from all political parties to account.  As the Veterans League we are working and want to work on partnering with community leaders and councillors on addressing service delivery issues, especially in dysfunctional municipalities.

Our  VL Constitution requires us to mobilise for elections. As veterans, we want to focus on where we can make the most impact. We believe that this includes being a resource for branches, training younger comrades to do electioneering and reaching out to constituencies which respect us.

If we indicate that we are going to vote and can stand proudly behind our list of candidates others will follow. We can bring stature to the election campaign. We will not de-campaign our movement.