By Anees Teladia
With the African National Congress (ANC) now sure of a loss in the Western Cape provincial election, ANC election head for the province, Ebrahim Rasool says that the people of the Western Cape will “have to manage” for the next few years. Rasool does not seem too surprised by the loss and has indicated that the party will reflect on the feedback they have been receiving from the different communities on their shortcomings. Despite the electoral loss, which is placing the ANC in opposition to the provincially ruling party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Rasool says there have been “highlights” in the election.
“I think that it is ‘same old, same old’, and I think that’s what the people of the Western Cape have to manage for the next five years,” said Rasool regarding the outcome of the Western Cape provincial elections.
“I must say, I woke up to the results and I tried to recall what I felt 25 years ago after the defeat of the ANC, which was led by Nelson Mandela. That time I was completely confused – I couldn’t understand why the people of the Western Cape would not vote for Nelson Mandela’s ANC…[but] I think this time around there are a lot of reasons why people wouldn’t have turned out in big numbers to vote for the ANC.”
“I think we’ve got to look very hard at ourselves. We’ve got to recover from the last 10 years, when things were terrible. I think we’ve got to rebuild the trust that may have gone and we’ve got to rebuild the organisation.”
Rasool then added what he feels are some highlights for the ANC in this election and told VOC about the lessons learned during the process.
“The beginning of a return of Muslims voting for the ANC and away from the DA is a highlight…We have building blocks that the ANC must identify for the next few years.”
“I would attribute some decline in DA support to great showings in the Bo-Kaap. I would attribute it to their decline in heartlands such as Gatesville, Rylands where the ANC was defeated by 26% in one VD and a hundred votes in another VD – whereas before, the DA would’ve gotten about 65% and now it’s just over 50%. So, I think that there are certain highlights which have pushed the ANC up and pulled the DA down, but the ANC needs to rethink how it runs itself as an organisation,” said Rasool.
“My discovery in the Western Cape was that the ANC had not adjusted to the role of opposition. It was in disbelief that it was a minority. It didn’t use the minority status to start articulating where the DA was going wrong. That, we tried to do and accept during the election campaign. We must go out and be an opposition and hold the DA accountable. We have to challenge the DA and expose them for their abdication of responsibility on crime and water and all those things…we must continue to fight court cases for people’s water, reductions in their tariffs and all those kinds of things.”
Rasool says that despite the loss in the Western Cape, the ANC knew the challenge ahead and took it as an opportunity not only for growth, but for increased meaningful community engagement and participation.
“When I took over this job, I said my first task was to take the ANC away from the graveyard because that’s where the polls were putting us – at about 20%.”
“We all understood the hand we had been dealt.”
“It [the ANC] needs coherence at a national level…that’s the key mandate. Our communities are calling for good and credible leadership from the ANC,” said Rasool.