Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town on Tuesday urged all African National Congress (ANC) branch representatives to use the forthcoming conference to “put all factional, partisan interests aside, follow their consciences and be the architects of a flourishing South Africa”.
He made the appeal ahead of the ANC’s 54th National Conference, which starts on Saturday and ends on Wednesday. A new party leader is expected to be elected to replace President Jacob Zuma as party leader.
However, contestation between leading candidates Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union Commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has led to divisions in the party with some factions opting to go to court to dispute nominations made by branches.
In KwaZulu-Natal, there have been several murders thought to be linked to factional battles within the ruling party.
Last month ANC member and the only delegate to the party’s 54th conference from Ward Seven in Camperdown Lungisani Mnguni, 34, was attacked by unknown suspects while driving in the Enkanyezini area. He was the 11th member from the ANC Moses Mabhida region to be murdered since last year.
Two months earlier, another ANC Councillor was murdered – less than a kilometre from the place where Mnguni was attacked.
Concerned about the tensions, Archbishop Makgoba on Tuesday said: “At the upcoming ANC Conference, branch representatives have the opportunity of a lifetime: to put all factional, partisan interests aside and to follow their consciences and to be the architects of a flourishing South Africa.
“Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not come – all we have is today. Your choice, your votes will determine not only your future but the future of your children, your grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s future.”
Taking a dig at the present leadership, Makgoba added: “In South Africa, we have been waiting, praying and anticipating a renaissance of values-based, ethical and moral leadership for nearly 10 years. We are now on destiny’s doorstep.
“You have a choice: to open the window of equality of opportunity for all South Africans or to put us at risk of another decade of moral famine. For the sake of our common future, please choose wisely.”
The Anglican archbishop said “as people of faith, our hope is always in God” and “not in any political party or in whoever a party may choose as its leader”.
He reiterated the message of church leaders they issued in a joint statement at the weekend, which emphasised that “we do need political leaders of integrity who will put the common good above all else”.