By Idries Amin and Newswires
The ANC believes that the “honeymoon” which the Democratic Party (DA) currently enjoys in the Western Cape may soon be over after it picked WC Premier Ebrahim Rasool to lead next year’s elections campaign.
“The DA’s honeymoon is over,” said a jovial Rasool during a press conference called by the ANC national head of election campaigns Fikile Mbalula.
“You will now know what an opposition is all about,” Rasool said enthusiastically.
“I cannot have a clear conscience that this is one province where racism abounds, where the ANC is not trusted. Our people need to be united across colour lines,” he added.
Rasool added: “I believe if ever the moment was there for the ANC to be ready for this province, it is now.”
But Rasool has not been without scandals. Rasool was recalled by the ANC as premier in 2008 after he was accused of paying some journalists to write stories portraying him in a good light.
But the ANC believes the party support in the Western Cape is growing steadily after President Cyril Ramaphosa took over as president from Jacob Zuma.
Said Mbalula: “The excitement that is there‚ the clean-up that is going on‚ the putting the past behind us‚ the vision to the future‚ the optimism that every South African is feeling‚ the enthusiasm that is making the opposition almost unemployed‚” he said.
He assured that the ANC would challenge DA leader Mmusi Maimane for running this city like a stokvel in which “he thinks he can come in here and do illegal things”.
The ANC claw back, he said was a bold attempt at “saving the people of the Western Cape from the pits of evident social and economical catastrophe which has pitted races against each other with no hope for change”, he said.
But Mbalula also pointed out that Rasool’s position did not necessarily mean he was the party’s candidate for premier.
“We don’t have a premier candidate. We are going to go through the lists processes,” he said, adding that individuals weren’t just placed in positions, “the party decides”.
Meanwhile, Faiez Jacobs, the party’s provincial secretary, said the provincial executive committee was unanimous in appointing Rasool for the election campaign, which would focus on the Cyril Ramaphosa-era themes of “unity and renewal”.
Al Qalam editor and political analyst, Imraan Buccus said Rasool had the political, intellectual and moral gravitas to reposition the ANC as a party to be trusted and one that champions the plight of the black majority in the Western Cape. Despite the Ramaphosa presidency the ANC has largely lost the white vote, but Rasool has what it takes to bring back the significant colored and black voters to the ANC. He would need to focus on the development deficits in the townships, and the significant fractures in the internal dynamics of the ANC in the Western Cape.
Speaking to Al Qalam, University of Stellenbosch academic, Prof Aslam Fataar, said that a personal reading would be that there is some unfinished business in the Western Cape. This is in respect of intra party politics and the ANC’s attempt to land the politics of non-racialism back into the Western Cape after a long period of nativist Zuma based politics. He went on to say that Rasool is the ideal person to engage in a space that is up for grabs in the Western Cape. This will depend on his ability to understand politics on the ground after an absence of 10 years.
Nonetheless he has the ability to outmanoeuvre recent political alignments in a chaotic environment. Fataar said that it was his contention that the DA will not recover in the so called Colored community and was enthused by Rasool’s appointment.
It remains to be seen whether an ANC with its own political weaknesses can develop a compelling non-racial politics aimed at delivering to poor communities.