ANC's head office Luthuli House in Johannesburg. Picture: Freddy Mavunda
ANC's head office Luthuli House in Johannesburg. Picture: Freddy Mavunda

As of Thursday, the ANC is on strike. Don’t panic if you didn’t notice.

As a citizen of a country where things fall apart daily — from municipal services to law enforcement to logistics — the news that ANC staffers are downing tools because they haven’t been paid their July or August salaries would hardly amount to a shock.

According to an e-mail from ANC general manager Febe Potgieter: “We are not yet in a position to pay outstanding salaries for July 2021. Unfortunately, August 2021 salaries, due on the 25th of this month, are also delayed. I do regret the hardship and the uncertainty that this causes staff and their families, and this is deeply regrettable.”

It turns out that it’s no coincidence that the party that can’t run the country’s finances can’t run its own either.

And this is only the latest glittering chapter for a party riven by factionalism, greed and outright lawlessness. But here’s the real rub: will there be any ANC candidates to vote for in the (hopefully) upcoming local government elections?

Because, not only have party staffers threatened to disrupt their own campaigning, but the ANC also couldn’t get it together to register candidates in at least 30 municipalities. As a result, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Thursday that the party intends to approach the Electoral Court to apply for an order reopening local government candidate registration and further “alternative relief”.

The ANC has been quick to blame factors out of its control — such as the level 4 lockdowns that prevented mass gatherings, which, it says, meant that “more than 15,000 branch and community meetings had to be held from late July to August 20 to nominate and hold community meetings with ward candidates”.

But the ANC also blames the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), whose systems, it says “froze” and “locked our administrators out during the final few hours before the deadline”.

That’s pretty much the grown-up version of “the dog ate my homework”.

As Helen Zille, the DA’s federal council chair, witheringly pointed out: “Strangely, Jessie, the IEC’s online candidate submission system worked well for us. Was it only faulty when it came to the ANC’s submission?”

Neither, it seems, did the IEC’s systems mysteriously gobble the homework of the other parties which registered. 

Of course, you can understand the ANC’s thinly disguised panic. As Duarte puts it: “The ultimate impact of this is that between 29 and 30 municipalities’ voters will not be able to vote for an ANC candidate if the system is not reopened to allow us to make the corrections that we need to make.”

The ANC argues that this “will have a massive impact on citizens, political parties and society generally”.

Well, yes — but not necessarily a negative impact. 

The ANC hasn’t said which municipalities it may have locked itself out of, but if those 35 are among the 230 municipalities countrywide (of 257 in total) that didn’t receive clean audits in the last financial year, and which racked up R26bn in irregular spending, then removing the officials who ran them into the ground from the list of candidates can only be good for everyone.

Talevi is the FM's Money & Investing editor.

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