When two elephants fight, we know all too well who suffers. The grass.

South Africa - Kimberley - 08 January 2020. Officials of the African National Congress led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, held a Cake Cutting Ceremony and Birthday Celebration yesterday, 08 January 2020 at the Galeshewe Mayibuye Multi Purpose Centre in Kimberley. Seen speaking is the Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul. Picture: Danie van der Lith

If we were to then extend this metaphor to the ANC, we would appreciate the idea that unless all members of the ANC heed the call of president Cyril Ramaphosa that we unite “through a cohesive programme of action that places the needs and interests of the people above all other interests…”, it will only be our people on the ground who will suffer.

The January 8th Statement, read by president Ramaphosa, reminded us that it is the ANC who remains South Africa’s most effective force for social change. The NEC of the ANC insisted that our branches must be rebuilt in order to serve as centres for community development. At the same time, integral to the mechanism to serve as an effective force for social change is the roll out of a mass political education campaign so as to develop our members. 

At grass-roots level, local government remains at the coalface of service delivery. It is for this reason that the ANC committed itself to ensuring that local government is strengthened particularly through the selection of candidates and the deployment of cadres to various positions. Again, as if to highlight people at grass-roots, the Statement declared that there would be an intensive engagement with communities on their needs and concerns. 

As the ANC in the Western Cape prepares for its own 108th celebrations, the call for unity must continue to echo throughout every corner of our province. This is mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the ANC in the Western Cape must fulfill its historical and constitutional mandate to serve as an effective opposition in this province. The people of our province voted that the ANC, at this juncture, would serve better as an opposition than as a provincial government. 

As an organisation with a 108 years of democratic practice, we accepted the democratic mandate of the people of the Western Cape. Yet the message sent to the ANC from voters, particularly in the Western Cape, as in cities such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Johannesburg and Tshwane, where the ANC did not win outright majorities, was that the ANC in these places and in the Western Cape must get their house in order. In order to win the confidence of voters again, the ANC must listen to those at grass-roots level.

Secondly, the call for unity, especially in the Western Cape, must be heeded if we desire a non-racist, non-sexist and prosperous Western Cape where all its inhabitants enjoy in its prosperity. Unless we unite and build a united front, with all progressive forces, around the ideals and aspirations of the Freedom Charter, whose 65th anniversary we celebrate this year, our ideological opponents will always win the battle of hegemony in this province. 

What this means to people at grass-roots level is that they too enjoy the beaches not only on Family (Boxing) Day as our compatriots in Camps Bay and Herold’s Bay do every day of the year. The vision of the ANC for the Western Cape remains one where the farmworker is afforded the same respect as the farm owner. We must be able to see an end to arbitrary evictions, whether from farms or because developers are moving in, and insist on an emphasis on service delivery rather than clean audits. 

Our real opponents remain those who believe that colonialism was somehow good for our country or that life was better under apartheid. Our real opponents remain those who continue to drive a wedge through our communities pitting the people of Cloetesville against those of Khayamandi or those of Thembalethu in George against those from Paclatsdorp also in George. 

Our opponents are those who deprive the people of Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha from participating fully in the economy of Cape Town by denying them the services of MyCiti busses, now it in seventh month of suspension. Indeed, we too must question whether our opponents are in Prasa given the non-functionality of the central railway line in the Metro. We therefore welcome the entity being placed under administration. 

The ANC will unite around the issues of our people. The challenges faced by those at grass-roots level will direct us to ensure that together we embark on this cohesive programme of action, as pointed out in the January 8th statement. The elephants will stop fighting. We will work together to build a strong ANC, a responsive ANC and an ANC that will ensure that we give our people the better life we promised in our manifesto. 

These elephants, strong and patient as they are, defeated the horrendous systems of colonialism and apartheid. Together we can and will defeat any challenge that we face today as a country and as a province. Yet we can only do so together. 

Ronalda Nalumango is the Provincial Coordinator of the Provincial Interim Committee of the ANC in the Western Cape.