ANC keeps doing the splits
ANC leaders have been engaged in an orgy of back-slapping and high-fives since they returned, triumphant, from the party conference in Mangaung. Their joy emanates from their claim that the party is united and operates as a cohesive unit.
I am sorry to rain on their parade, but what kind of unity is this?
The party's leaders in North West are either shooting, fighting or killing each other. If they are not doing that they are helping to remove their own mayors, allowing the opposition to sneak in and show them up.
The ANC Youth League's national executive committee has been dissolved and replaced by a task team led by, believe it or not, a 38-year-old. The league's founding fathers must be laughing - or weeping - in their graves at this. We behold the sad state of a youth league run by old men imposed by other old men on young people.
In Limpopo, the same sorry state of affairs holds. There, too, the party is run by a task team. The premier, Cassel Mathale, is earning a full salary despite the fact that five of his provincial departments are being run by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan because they had collapsed.
Why the party did not fire Mathale and install a competent premier boggles the mind.
Limpopo is not the only province where the ANC premier has zero political power. Thandi Modise in North West is not a member of the national executive or any other leadership structure in the party. As one ANC activist in the North West told me recently: "She has no authority. She is ranked lower than an ANC marshal at a rally."
The ANC should release people like Modise from their misery. They should fire her.
The province is at an absolute standstill right now because the party's provincial leadership is trying to wrest state power from her, while she clings on for dear life.
Then there is the Free State, home of super-expensive websites and a non-existent ANC provincial executive committee. You will remember that the ANC's provincial executive was dissolved after disgruntled members proved that premier Ace Magashule and his comrades had been elected dodgily earlier last year.
So, since December, the ANC in the Free State has also been run by a "task team". This team initially decided to hold a provincial conference in February, but failed. Then the deadline for a conference was moved to April, but that now looks unlikely too. And so the ANC in that province joins others in muddling along without a mandate.
The party's leaders in the Northern Cape face various corruption charges. Provincial chairman John Block will appear in court on October 28 on charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering involving R49-million.
He is serving the people of the province, happily, as finance MEC.
In the Eastern Cape, the party is so divided that residents in various municipalities learn the name of their mayor only when she or he is booted out by factions of the party.
Key municipalities such as Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Buffalo City Metro, Mnquma and Mbhashe are in the news more often for leadership squabbles, maladministration, court battles and corruption than because of their service delivery.
Coherence and harmony in the ANC seem to exist only in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
In Mpumalanga, many leaders still live in fear after the spate of assassinations of leaders there three years ago. No action seems to have been taken.
ANC president Jacob Zuma and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe came to power in the party in 2007 on a ticket that sought to vilify Thabo Mbeki for dividing the ANC. They cannot blame him for the shambles that is the ANC today.
To his credit, the ANC under Mbeki, even in 2007, acted coherently. Even when there were divisions around Zuma and Mbeki, it was still a unit.
Zuma and Mantashe cannot claim the same. The ANC in Limpopo is virtually two hostile organisations. Same thing in North West, Free State, Mpumalanga and in the youth league.
Zuma and Mantashe have divided four major arms of the ANC. It is a wonder they received such an overwhelming majority in Mangaung. They have been rewarded handsomely for failure and for taking to the brink of collapse the party of Pixley ka Isaka Seme.
Jostling for positions in the run-up to next year's election will now begin. Members of parliament will want their seats back - the salaries are nice. Newbies will want to replace them. More lobbying and more in-fighting will ensue.
Given their extremely poor performance so far, I doubt that Zuma and Mantashe will manage this process elegantly. Expect even more ANC in-fighting ahead.