‘We’ve lost all hope’: South Africa’s ruling party protests against leadership
The protesters want the party’s executive committee to resign. They have united around the hashtag #OccupyLuthuliHouse, a reference to the name of the ANC’s headquarters in downtown Johannesburg.
In massed ranks against them stood pro-ANC veterans of the independence struggle dressed in military fatigues. Minor scuffles reported when the activists attempted to hand-over a petition to ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantasche.
The ANC suffered huge losses in major metropolitan areas including Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay in local elections held on 11 August. Since those defeats, the party leadership has been entangled in a civil war.
In Gauteng, the party’s support has fallen from 60% five years ago to 46% this year. Over the same period, support for the country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, increased from 33% to 37%.
The demonstrations are being led by Ronald Lamola, who is the former deputy president of the ANC’s Youth League.
Sasabona Manganye, an ANC member, said the protesters have “lost all hope in the ANC’s internal processes”.
Mantashe told a crowd of cheering supporters: ‘If we allow the ANC to be swallowed by certain groups then we will have no organisation.”
Opposition groups jumped on the chance to point out the ANC’s declining popularity.
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said he ‘salutes’ the protests.”Those of you who are still in the ANC, you are wasting time; it will not be back, it’s going in the direction of all former liberation movements,” he told a local radio station.