INTERVIEW: ANC Mpumalanga Secretary Mandla Ndlovu on challenges and regime change

ANC Mpumalanga provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu. PICTURE BY MfisoDIGITAL/ZK

013NEWS: I start and I record the Mpumalanga ProvincialSecretary of the ANC, Mandla Ndlovu, and everything said here will be published as it is. Now, to you Mr Ndlovu, as ANCSecretary in the province, who do you, as an organisationregard a threat?

Mandla Ndlovu: We are not scared of anyone. We are ready for the elections. We are going to win all the elections and we are going to retain all the municipalities in the province. I heard somebody dreaming that they are going to win JS [Moroka] and Thembisile Hani [municipalities]. Its just a dream and its good for the person to dream. But, no. Winning is something else. Whether they can dream, they are not going to win JS and Thembisile.

013NEWS: You dont think the DA or the EFF is sort of a threat because when one looks around, the streets, we do also see them. You dont think maybe in other wards they will defeat you?

Ndlovu: when I was sitting in this office hearing them making all the noise that they weremaking, I thought that maybe they are enjoying support on theground, when I conducted door-to-door work I didnt meet a singleperson who said I will not give the ANC my vote. Most of the people they said to us that they are Christians. Others, we know that in South Africa we have got the Christians, which are around 80% and more. You will have the other religious groups sharing roughly 13% and you will have just 1% of those that they dont believe in anything. So, all these people, when we were conducting door-to-door campaign, they said to us that they dont associate themselves with anarchy. They all said that they will not associate with people talking about taking a government out of power through the barrel of a gun and not through the ballot paper. So they are peace-loving people. So they are not going to vote for EFF.

013NEWS: Now tell me. I want to ask, on the question of taking the government out of power through a gun and not through the system of voting, do you think people that are not enjoying the support of voters can also enjoy the support of people who didnt vote for them to take the ANC out of power through a gun?

Ndlovu: It will be a dream to think that you will remove the ANCthrough a barrel because there are those that are prepared todefend democracy. Ja, we are going to defend democracy. What we have been fighting for is that people must vote for their government, must vote for their own public representatives. You cant impose yourself. The will of the people must prevail. It cant be forced.

013NEWS: Why do you think that parties like the EFF, like the DA. Or let me say, why do you think they had to form parties like the EFF? Do you perhaps think there are challenges that the ANC is not addressing and that those issues, or just challenges, result in the formation of parties like the EFF, do you think such challenges make it possible for such parties to emerge in our societies?

Ndlovu: I like our democracy in South Africa. Thats why there is no need for you to fight. That if Im not happy about all the existing political parties in the country its simple to form a political party. Very cheap. You can also form you own political party and contest elections. So, they decided to form their own political organisations. We must contest and do allow all people to exercise their democratic rights. We cant just force people to vote for our politicalorganisation.

013NEWS: You, speaking as a member and provincialsecretary of the ANC, do you think that anyone that isopposing the ANC and when they form their own politicalparties and get elected, they then go to state organs and assist the people?

Ndlovu: Some of the problems, like in Limpopo, they alsocontributed (to the problems) and when you talk to them today they will tell you thatthey were part of the system but they contributed as individualswhen they were part of the system. Thats not proper. They are not going to assist the people even if they win elections. Myunderstanding is that if the ANC was to build 10 houses, theirs will be five. Less than five. Five is too much. We are talking 50%. Im going to say less than five. Less than five houses. Five is too much. Id say between 0 and 2. Thats all they can do for the people.

013NEWS: Why are you saying that?

Ndlovu: Im comparing ourselves (ANC) with the old regime. Without even comparing with the old regime, Id say that since we took over in 1994 you would see that there is so much that we have done since 1994 to now. Even in terms of electricity. In terms of houses, theres so much.

013NEWS: Are you saying that there is no other party that is on the side of the people more than the ANC? Is that perhaps what you mean?

Ndlovu: They cant claim to be on the side of the people. You will hear them say with us, there is no noise when selectingcandidates. They are saying that theirs is the will of the people, that with theirs the people are not complaining and Im telling you, Im staying here in this province and I dont remember of any party conducting a mass meeting. Just to parade their candidates. With the ANC we selected candidates together with the people. We were part of the people. We selected candidates with the people. We even allowed people to complain when they were not happy. In many areas, just because people complained we corrected. So thecandidates that we are having is not just our own candidates; (they) are candidates that we selected with the people. In that context, we were correct when we said we are going to put local government in the hands of the people. We work with the people.

013NEWS: What is the difference between the ANC andsociety?

Ndlovu: The ANC is not the society. The ANC is part of the society and the ANC is the leader of the society.

013NEWS: Are saying the AN

Ndlovu: Lets coin it correctly. We have society and you have got the ANC. The ANC is part of society. So, our members are staying in society and they must do what society wants as long as that is not against the policy of the ANC. What is important is that, on the selection of candidates the society had an influence on the selection of our candidates.

013NEWS: So when you look at 100 people in South Africa, at society, how many people would you say, these, these ones are members and supporters of the ANC?

Ndlovu: Here in Mpumalanga roughly 80%.

013NEWS: So in other words what you mean is that anyone taking gun and removing the ANC from power they will actually be removing society from power?

Ndlovu: They are just contradicting themselves. What I like about South Africa is that since 1994 our elections have been declared to be credible by local observers and internationalobservers. Our elections, our outcomes have always been accepted by all our competitors; these other political organisations. So you cant say that you want to remove that government that is enjoying the will of the people. You will just want to impose yourself, of whichis wrong. You cant impose yourself. You must go to elections. The day that we lose elections we will support those that take power being voted by the people. So, for now, theres no way that society can allow that anybody can want to remove a party they voted into power. I dont see that happening, that they remove this government that is enjoying the will of the people.

013NEWS: The way I understand it as you put it, is that society is the people. And people from this society vote for the ANC and anyone that is trying to remove the ANC will be forcing the people to protect the ANC?

Ndlovu: They will be protecting democracy.

013NEWS: Do you think provincially the African NationalCongress has got challenges, in terms of service delivery,unemployment, lot of issues that have been raised by the DA, Economic Freedom Fighters, the Cope, issues that you ANC leaders are aware about?

Ndlovu: You see the only time that the ANC will say we dont have challenges is when every person will have a roof, is when every person is having employment, is when all those that are supposed to go to school are at school, is then that you can say we dont havechallenges. Those are the challenges that the ANC must face and deal with. For as long as we continue to have those challenges as (an) organisation we continue to fight those problems. The problem is that those others think that they can do better than us, they are just making noise. Its only the ANC that can deal with the challenges of the people. So, in short, as long as we still got people that dont have water, then we cant say that we dont have challenges. As long as we still got people without electricity, as long as we still got people that when they go to bed they go with an empty stomach. Those are the challenges that the ANC must face. And currently, with the services that we are delivering we are trying but people must understand that it is a journey.

013NEWS: Do you think that the private sector, or owners of private capital have more powers than the South Africangovernment and therefore it has to play a leading role inemploying people or you think the government does havepowers and must therefore be the one that plays a leadingrole?

Ndlovu: All of us must contribute. All of us. The public sector and the private sector, we must all build this country and play a role. You cant say it must be the government. But currently, I think in South Africa the government has appointed more people. We are spending more on salaries. And they are even complaining that we are borrowing everyday in order to pay salaries. But we understand that. We know the government is not trying to be rich. We are not trying to be rich, everything we do is giving to the people. But the private sector with the resources that they have they must come forth, and the problem is not just the private sector our people mustalso go to school so that they can be employable.

013NEWS: Yourself, as provincial secretary of the ANC, do you think that there is form of attack against the ANC by membersof the private sector and therefore which will result to regime change or do you think that there are programs of regime change and such programs being initiated by the private sector because perhaps the current government is no longer convenient to their interests, as the national secretary of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, said some months ago. Yourself, do you think that there is indeed plan, ehh, secretly, to remove the ANC from power because the ANC is no longer convenient to their interest, that this program is initiated by owners of capital?

Ndlovu: You see there (are) those that they want to also control other countries and South Africa has been independent since during the time of comrade Mandela. They (liberation movements) gave the message to other leaders (Britain and others), that they must give Africa the space to run its affairs and some of these people are not happy. Not only the ANC is being attacked, is an attack on the former liberation movements the whole of Africa.

013NEWS: You saying its not an attack on the ANC.

Ndlovu: Yes, not only the ANC. In Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF, thats where the MDC will come in and you go to Mozambique thats where Renamo will come in. Then you come to South Africa. If a person can encourage people to burn universities, this person clearly has got something sinister that you dont understand. If you have access to any university, you attend or school there, I dont understand how you can encourage students to burn their own university, it will not be right. Then with the EFF, they said with their own mouths that, without going to elections, they are going to remove this current government through a barrel of a gun. How can you say that in a democratic state like South Africa where you are allowed to have regular elections? The elections are free and fair but, in other countries the ruling party does not announce the date of election (on time) or even brief the other political parties of a possible date for elections. But here its different. All of us around Aprileven before the announcement of the date of elections, all these political parties were preparing for end of July or early August elections. They were not predicting. We told them. But in other countries the ruling party will prepare, willfundraise and do everything and when you realise that you areready for elections you announce, that next week there will beelections. And even if you go to court, court will talk about theprerogatives of the President. But here in South Africa ourdemocracy is fair. So you cant just decide to change thisgovernment that is giving fair platforms to contest elections. We are not interfering, even with the work of the IEC. We are not at all.