- Ready for MAP by-elections
- Apologies for collapse of council
The ANC in the Free State has denounced unsubstantiated claims doing the rounds that it is using food parcels to woo voters ahead of the highly contested Maluti-A-Phofung local municipality by-elections.
The by-elections which are set for next Wednesday are being contested by the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), as well as 11 independent candidates.
ANC provincial spokesman Thabo Meeko told The Weekly in an interview the party has called off all its programmes meant to assist the poor in MAP after it surfaced they were claims the organisation was using this to buy votes, in contravention of the elections code.
“There are programmes that had been planned long before the by-elections fever could be at this level. There are families whose homes were destroyed by natural disasters and who could not survive a day without a meal or shelter on top of their heads. We had to stop our interventions in assisting them until after the coming by-elections,” noted Meeko.
He added in the last days of campaigning the ANC would be going to the residents to explain to them the reason behind the delays in completing the poverty relief programmes.
Meeko said it was unfortunate the projects aimed at relieving families in distress coincided with the impending by-elections in the MAP.
The ANC leadership in the province had engaged with different formations in the area during campaigning and profusely apologised for the collapse of the municipality and by extension, service delivery.
“We apologised unconditionally to the people of this area. We acknowledged that the collapse of the municipality was an error that should not have happened and made a vow to them to correct the situation with the urgency it deserves once the by-elections are over,” the spokesperson said.
He indicated added challenges of water and power outages in the area were currently being addressed, with power utility Centlec already on site fixing transformers.
Meeko noted elections or no elections, the people of the MAP still deserve quality and decent services, adding the ANC is happy its interventions in the area are beginning to bear fruit.
“The mission here is to win back the hearts and minds of the people of MAP, to reignite the cordial relationship we shared with them since the advent of local municipalities back in 1996. We are preparing for victory and have dealt extensively with the misinformation and lies peddled to our people as facts on the ground.”
Meeko further said the ANC shares in the painful historical experience of the people, whom he said they were hard done by the apartheid government which dumped them in the area without services and access to water and light for years, and wishes to work to reverse this.
Asked on efforts to rein it the former councillors who are contesting the elections as independents, Meeko said they were now opposition to the ANC, citing they however were not the focus of the ruling party’s campaign in the area.
“They expelled themselves for good from the ANC by contesting against the movement. However the focus is on reviving service delivery for the benefit of our people and ensuring stability in the running of the municipality,” he pointed out.
In a separate interview last week, Meeko also lashed at the apparent perception that the independent candidates, who were all fired from the ANC because they defied the party’s standing orders in the election of the new mayor of the area, were chucked out because of their fight against corruption in MAP.
He explained contrary to the independents’ claims, the ANC instituted disciplinary action that led to their dismissal from the organisation after they had allegedly colluded with the opposition to install a mayor not endorsed by the party.
“They were fired after they went against the wishes of the movement. They were driven by the desire to have access to lucrative government tenders in their decision to go against the wishes of the party and elect a mayor of their own choice,” he added.
The ANC had tried its level best to engage with the fired councillors following a directive by the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House in Johannesburg, but to no avail.
“We tried so many times to engage with them, told them to apologise to the ANC so they could be taken through a political rehabilitation programme before they can be reintegrated into the movement, but to no avail. As the ANC we are not an organisation that destroys but builds, mends than tear apart, hence the engagements.”