MEC Mandla Msibi’s arrest has ‘wrecked’ ANC’s elections campaign in Mpumalanga

13 October 2021 - 13:31
Mpumalanga agriculture MEC Mandla Msibi has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. File photo.
Mpumalanga agriculture MEC Mandla Msibi has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. File photo.
Image: Supplied

The ANC in Mpumalanga is worried about the negative impact the arrest of its provincial executive committee (PEC) member and MEC Mandla Msibi will have in the upcoming local government elections.

The party says it will now have to rethink its campaign strategy just weeks before the polls.

Msibi, a strong political figure in Mpumalanga, was arrested this week on allegations of murder and attempted murder. It is alleged that Msibi was involved in an elections list scuffle that led to a shoot-out in Mbombela in August.

Though Msibi has now been fired as an MEC and the ANC has taken a decision that he must step aside from all his positions in the party, the ANC in Mpumalanga says the arrest and the shooting were a “serious blow” and are likely to lose it votes in next month’s elections.

Msibi was also the elections manager in the province, meaning he was not only the face of electioneering but also an organiser.

According to the ANC Mpumalanga secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, the ANC will now have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new approach to the elections as the current strategy may no longer be enough to woo voters.

“We’ll try very hard but it’s really something that has wrecked us really badly. Remember he’s heading elections, he’s part of the PEC, so it will affect us, but unfortunately there’s things you have to live with. It’s 19 days to elections, [as] you can imagine it’s a serious blow,” Ntshalintshali told TimesLIVE.

Ntshalintshali said she was hoping the action by the party to immediately decide that Msibi must step aside from all positions would help to show prospective voters that the party was serious about getting rid of the rot.

She said this is the messaging their campaign strategy would now have to adopt.

“We will have to restrategise, but I think the pressure from the ANC in taking this decision, that we invoke our resolution on step aside, have a cooling period, face this and let's work as the ANC, I think that is going to redirect or help the ANC in a certain manner.

“Because if you don’t process it, [step aside] it will be like we’re arrogant, yet we’re not arrogant, but we’re saying let everybody have his or her say before the court of law and let’s clear all the speculation, all the allegations, because the hatred in the ANC is too deep,” Ntshalintshali said.

In the 2019 national and provincial elections, the ANC in Mpumalanga was dominant, winning more than 70% of the total vote. Though this was almost an 8% decline compared with the 2014 elections, it still maintained a strong footing.

This was the same trend in the 2016 local government elections where the party won just more than 70% of the votes.

But internal divisions and war over positions are likely to result in a significant drop in support in these elections unless opposition parties fail to up their game.

The EFF is on Wednesday campaigning in Mpumalanga, with its leader Julius Malema expected to visit areas including the Govan Mbeki municipality and Emalahleni.

Ntshalintshali admitted that the infighting had reached dangerous levels and some members were scared for their lives.