- Party admits need for introspection
- 10 wards lost to independent candidates
- Voters shun DA and EFF
- Opposition falls short
The African National Congress (ANC) will still get to call the shots in the beleaguered Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality despite Wednesday’s by-election which saw the ruling party win five of the contested 15 vacant posts.
The seats fell vacant after 15 sitting ANC councillors were shown the door last year for going against the party’s mandate in the election of a new mayor for the area.
The five seats add to the 32 that the ANC already had in the MAP, bringing the total number now to 37.
The opposition – in the form of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) – joined hands with 10 of the independent candidates, and their combined tally is now 32 seats in the municipality. This means the ANC still controls the troubled council.
ANC provincial secretary Paseka Nompondo said in a post -election media briefing that the result of the highly contested by-election leaves the party still in control of the MAP.
He noted the ANC received the outcome of the poll with mixed emotions.
Nompondo explained that the ANC went into the by-elections after taking disciplinary action against own councillors in MAP for having gone against the wishes of the party in electing a new mayor.
He noted the principle of discipline expected from the former ANC councillors was compromised by their action, and added to internal strife within the organisation in the MAP.
“African National Congress has received the outcome of the Maluti-a-Phofung by-election that was held yesterday with mixed emotions,” the provincial secretary indicated yesterday (Thurs).
“The ANC went into these by elections after conducting disciplinary processes against its members that conducted themselves against the mandate of the organisation,” he explained.
He further said the ANC is prepared to defend the guiding principle of organisational discipline even if it means it has to be contesting elections against its former members where this becomes necessary.
“One of the principles guiding the ANC is discipline. We are prepared as the ANC to defend this principle and many others including contesting elections against former members where necessary. Overall the ANC is grateful to the people of Maluti for having returned us as the majority party in the Local Municipality of Maluti-a-Phofung.”
Nompondo however acknowledged that the support bestowed on the party in this by-election comes with huge responsibilities and vowed that the ANC “would dare not fail our people”.
In supporting the ANC, the majority of voters had continued to express their support for the party.
Nompondo said the organisation recognises that voters stood by it despite the history of internal strife in MAP ANC structures, and the subsequent challenges in as far as service delivery is concerned.
These challenges tested the people’s trust in the ANC as well as compromised the movement as a leader of society, he pointed out.
“We realise very well that this continuing expression of trust and hope in the ANC is not unconditional, and that it should never be taken for granted. The fact that we lost 10 wards to independent candidates, and that a substantial part of that opposition came from former ANC councillors, should be taken very seriously.”
The provincial secretary added the result of the by-election is a strong message to the ANC to ‘self-correct,’ and to bring an end to infighting and divisions.
The focus should be at working towards unity in order to deliver services, he said, adding voters punished the ANC with their vote but still chose not vote for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) or the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
“The people of Maluti-A-Phofung are saying to the ANC that it is high time that infighting and divisions are resolved, and that unity of purpose with the intention to deliver services to our people, must become the singular objective and duty of the African National Congress,” said Nompondo.
He noted the ANC bows its head in shame that the people had to castigate the movement in this harsh manner for it to hear their cries.
The ANC, and more specifically the provincial executive committee (PEC) of the Free State, has heard the voice of the people of MAP, and will get down to doing ‘serious introspection’ based on the message carried in the MAP by election by the voters, Nompondo assured.
“From hence-on it will not be business as usual. The ANC will respond to the clear instructions that we have received from the voters and implement such with purpose and singular resolve,” he said.
Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality has over the past few years been rocked by violent protests over service delivery challenges, demands by municipal workers for improved working conditions, and payment of overtime.
The municipality has also been accused of failing to remit payments to third parties which include medical aid, funeral and pension funds, despite it deducting contributions from their wages
The ANC in the Free State last week indicated that voting or no voting, residents in MAP deserve better services.
It said challenges of water and power outages in the area were currently being addressed, with power utility Centlec already on site fixing transformers.
Meanwhile the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa has declared this week’s MAP by-election to have been free and fair.