With barely three weeks to go before South Africans head to the polls to elect a new president and a new parliament, serious cracks have developed within the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Several senior ANC members officially launched a campaign against their own party in Johannesburg on Tuesday (15.04.2014).
The campaign urges all dissatisfied ANC members and supporters not to vote for the party in the May 7 elections. Instead, people should vote for opposition parties. People who are also unhappy with the opposition parties are uged to go to the polls but spoil their ballot papers.
‘Vote no or spoil it'
Speaking to journalists in a press conference on Tuesday, former Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge said an uncaring government, high levels of corruption, abuse of public funds (such as the recent security upgrades at President Zuma's private Nkandla home) and poor service delivery are the main motives of the campaign.
"This is a recognized form of political expression. What do you expect people to do, if none of the registered parties really stand for what they [say they] stand for?" Madlala-Routledge said.
Former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said the rot in the party had reached alarming levels. He defended their campaign by saying even the late former President Nelson Mandela had urged members to march against the party if it failed to fulfill their aspirations.
"What did Mandela say when we were coming to power? He said, if we don't deliver and solve the problems of the people, then they have the right to march against us," said Kasrils.
The group presented a list of more than one hundred names of other ANC members who have joined the campaign. Jerry Tlopane, an informal trader, is one of them. He vowed that the ANC will not get his vote in the upcoming elections.
"I want the ANC to get a little punishment, so I don't know who am I going to vote for because this is a blank cheque. If I vote for the ANC, I vote for these vultures you know," said Tlopane.
However, staunch ANC members, such as Itani Rasalanavho, have dismissed the anti-ANC campaign as a non-event. Rasalanavho said he is campaigning for more votes from young people.
"This is one of these campaigns where people want to get publicity or most probably financial support," Rasalanavho said.
The ANC and the government were quick to respond to the campaign, calling it an irresponsible act. But Kasrils said they are not worried about verbal attacks and are ready to bear the consequences of their action. He insists the critics are still members of the ANC and says they have embarked on this campaign to restore the dignity of their party.
The ANC has been in power since the country ended apartheid rule in 1994. In the last elections in 2009 the ANC won almost two-thirds of the vote.