Former Cape ANC leader warns of factionalism ahead of election
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Internal factionalism would keep the Western Cape out of the ANC’s reach, warned its former provincial chairman as elections for the party’s new local leaders approach.
Ebrahim Rasool, also a former Western Cape premier, said this week in Cape Town that when he left the province the local ANC had “unraveled”.
In 2008, Rasool was fired from his post as Western Cape premier and current public enterprises minister Lynne Brown was tasked with running the province.
The ANC subsequently lost governance of the province to the Democratic Alliance in the 2009 national election.
Rasool was swiftly appointed as South African ambassador to the United States and ended his term in February this year.
Rasool is currently a scholar at Georgetown University in Washington, US, where he is focused on academic research and writing. He is back in his home city, Cape Town, for the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadaan.
Rasool said he was keeping an eye on local politics though, but not with an interest of returning to any political role in the province.
“One remains interested in what happens. Sometimes for selfish reasons, whether the legacy issues that we started will be maintained. Other times because of the people involved,” said Rasool.
“There’s no real political fervor behind watching it. I’ve resisted calls to join the fray because I’ve learned never to look back. I’ve had a great period in the Western Cape.”
Rasool said new leaders in the province would need to follow a “simple premise”.
“We were able to find a formula to bind all the different factions and interests in the ANC. It unraveled towards the end of my time here,” he said.
“That’s probably what they are dealing with. The simple truth is that for governing the Western Cape the ANC must be united.”
Rasool was at loggerheads shortly before his departure with his comrades, most notably Max Ozinsky, who had played a leading role in his election as premier.
Ozinsky had led a public campaign against Rasool, alleging the former premier bribed newspaper and radio journalists, with cash from the provincial government’s purse, to report favourably on the ANC.
Journalists who had been implicated lost their jobs, and the ANC shifted Rasool out of the province. Ozinsky, who has held senior ANC provincial positions, along with Rasool were temporarily suspended from the party for making their dispute public.
Rasool said he was still keen on pursuing political ambitions once settling back home.
“I’m not finished with South African politics,” he said.
“But I’m enjoying a reflective moment in my life where I can make sense of what I believe, think and what I’ve said. And really see if there’s a meaningful space for what I’ve learned.”
Rasool said his role as a politician has meanwhile broadened. He was the guest speaker this week at the launch of the book, The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring, at the city-based Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.
“There is now a sense of being appreciated globally as well. Just last week I was meeting with people from Bahrain. I’ve been involved in preparing for the elections in Haiti,” said Rasool.
“I’ve spent three days with commanders from the various anti-Assad Syrian forces to find if there is a political solution.
“You could not have experienced a transition led by Neslon Mandela and not have internalised some of the lessons. It has made me invited across the world.”
Current provincial ANC chairman Marius Fransman last weekend confirmed the party would elect new provincial leaders at a conference from June 26 to 28 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).
Fransman said they were still battling factionalism and bribes from businessmen who wanted to benefit from elected officials in various municipalities.
Fransman and his team were appointed in 2011 to iron out the Western Cape ANC’s internal issues, following a tumultuous period that included reshuffling the provincial leadership and losing the province to the DA.