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Who will the ANC listen to, if not itself?

This week, the ANC marched on itself. And was met with extra security, MK veterans and police. Some among the youth league members wanted to make their voices heard in front of Luthuli House. They demanded that president Jacob Zuma step down, and take the entire NEC with him. What they found was their own comrades, defending Number One, and telling them to leave. 

Samkele Maseko outside Luthuli House

These images took me back some years - to a time when Julius Malema was heading the ANC youth league, faced disciplinary charges and was expelled. On the eve of that expulsion, scores of youth league members marched on the very same Luthuli house to support their leader. They too, were met with barbed wire, extra security, police and then - rubber bullets.  A year later - the EFF was born. 

Now, in 2016 - some of the young men who stayed within the ranks of the ANC are marching on Luthuli house, demanding change. But ANCYL president Collen Maine was quick to dismiss them, making light of their relevance in front of HQ. 

Consider this quote from the league's Reggie Nkabinde about another member on the opposite side - Ronald Lamola: "A member of the ANC can't behave like Ronald Lamola, he is behaving like those sitting there wearing red berets and blue tshirts. He is no different from them. So a leader of the ANC does not behave like Lamola, hence I don't think he is a member of the ANC, in fact we must go and verify his membership properly if it's still in good standing."

He further says that members like Ronald Lamola must be expelled from the party. And that would be in line with the sentiments shared by those who stand by Zuma. Imagine then what the reaction would be to popular sentiment, the views of the masses and ordinary people on the street, venting. 

ANC supporters at Luthuli House 5_jacanews
Photo: Samkele Maseko

The #OccupyLuthuliHouse protestors received widespread support. Julius Malema saluted them, saying the young people are standing up. On social media the ages of those who marched in MK veteran regalia were questioned, members of the public could not understand the use of barbed wire, the extra security and police - because these are members of the same party. The protesting group has lamented the state of the ruling party- saying the party has become a threat to itself, and thus the country - and for that, their comrades lashed out at them. 

But where to from here for the ruling party? Is it too late for the party to rebuild itself and recover from the drubbing it received at the local government poll? 

Former KZN Premier and Party Chair Senzo Mchunu recently admitted that there are two camps within the party. And actions after these words were spoken, proved that this is indeed so. It clearly centers around party and state president Jacob Zuma. 

And ultimately, history will be the judge. For now it seems that Zuma will remain, enjoying the support of those in the top structures of the party, ignoring the voices of young and old, demanding change. We have little choice it seems, but to march on to 2019…and another poll.

Written by Samkelo Maseko, JacarandaFM journalist

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