IT is no secret that the ANC is on the verge of losing the metro to the DA in next year’s local government elections unless something drastic happens to turn the wheel around.
It also does not help the ANC’s cause to retain the metro when it is competing against competent DA leaders such as the DA chief whip in Bhisho, Bobby Stevenson. The DA, despite all its flaws – especially the handling of race dynamics in our country – is great at handling perception through the media, way better than the ANC.This is a skill the ruling party has yet to master.
When one thinks of the ANC and its relationship with the media, words such as evasive, defensive and saying a lot about nothing simply come to mind. It is one of the reasons I was surprised and apprehensive when I was given the duty of being family spokesperson for the late Rev Mcebisi Xundu’s funeral.
However, in the portfolio, I got to see a different side to the ruling party – a side that my employees are still raving on about, never mind being pleasantly surprised.
Scheduling media interviews with ANC officials was a breeze. They were on time.
It’s hard to believe this when one is used to cabinet ministers being announced 45 minutes late or having to wait two hours before proceedings start. When I was a reporter, reporting on ANC events was the worst because of time-keeping.
One has to take cognisance that Xundu was an ANC gem. He belonged to the group of leaders of integrity, service and speaking truth to power, and was brutal about being on time.
Unlike with the likes of Jackie Selebi, Xundu was not plagued by scandals in apartheid days and post-apartheid, making it easy for the ANC to speak of him proudly as an ANC veteran.
It was an unexpected surprise that phone calls to senior members of the party were answered efficiently and immediately. Every day, there was a checklist to see the progress of the events.
Follow-ups were the norm and there was speed of action.
The ANC moved like a corporate entity where professionalism and efficiency were the order of the day. Senior officials were on time for meetings.
Meetings were recorded and everyone was simply there to serve and honour a great legacy.
More importantly there was a deep understanding of the cultural dynamics of funerals and what they mean to black people. The family was consulted at each and every stage, and reported to widow Thandiwe Xundu
of with the respect.
This is where I think the DA would never be able to compete with the ANC, no matter how much it tried.
The DA has a long way to go in understanding the meaning of such events to its black constituency.
Race and culture are simply emotionally charged dynamics and they must be navigated with the utmost sensitivity. The truth, no matter how annoying it is to hear for most white people, is that some black people still choose to vote for the ANC because of the ruling party’s understanding of race politics irrespective of the facts of Nkandla, corruption and incompetence.
Seeing Hellen Zille cook, wearing Xhosa traditional attire and dance during an election period is simply not enough for some black people to feel that the DA cares about race politics in this country.
As a citizen, it’s easy to switch off when ANC members make speeches. It is as if they are reading from a template only understood by comrades that simply does not connect with South Africans and are usually long winded.
Contrary to the expectation, the ANC speeches were on time and
outmost spoke to the authentic Xundu and his unwavering principles.
The ANC truly surprised me. The events prior to and on the funeral day were crisp and spoke true to the minister’s character.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said “he would critique the ANC whilst providing solutions”. The question now remains: will the ANC follow Xundu’s example?
The same efficiency and way the ANC treated the Xundu family should be the same way they treat metro citizens and the national public. That is the way to turn the wheel around for the ANC and the metro – living out the Xundu legacy starting from now.