Twenty years into South Africa’s democracy the ANC London branch seems to finally be experiencing an overdue renewal at its core, with a new leader taking over following years of chaos at the helm of the organisation.
Following a prolonged power vacuum, which had turned the London branch into a shell of its former self, a fresh direction with a new executive committee under the leadership of Jabu Sibeko promises a resurrection of the ANC London to the organisation’s former glory, according to the newly elected deputy, Ramadimetje Lucy Mashigo.
Mashigo says that the ANC London has a compelling story to tell about how it will be transforming itself into a pro-active organisation that welcomes the participation of all South Africans living in the UK, honouring the heritage of the rainbow nation in the northern hemisphere.
This would indeed mark a change from their previous direction. Running under the interim leadership of Xolani Xala for the past five years, disagreements and lacklustre guidance appeared to have created somewhat of an impression of a political organisation in crisis. Whenever there was any noteworthy action taking place at all at the London branch, it would appear to largely be characterised by the interim leader’s confrontational style, creating the same air of a cliquey fraction built around his own persona that many naysayers attribute to many senior figures in the ANC in South Africa these days.
Deputy leader Mashigo admits to previous shortcomings, such as Xala’s failure to call an annual general meeting during his five years at the helm. But rather than begrudging the past, Mashigo looks forward with excitement to what’s ahead for the party:
“The comrades are excited about change and will be inviting the public to join us at a meeting later in the year to move forward together.”
The ANC in London was once renowned for coordinating many of its international protest events from the exile base in London while it was banned under apartheid. Members now hope for the ANC London to rise back into the forefront of South African politics following this change in leadership. However, while Saffas around the world are busy celebrating the 20 years of unity this year, the ANC London branch remains somewhat reminiscent of the mental image of a guest, who’s arriving too late at a party just as it’s gradually fading out.
Unity is perhaps the foremost quality that sets the ANC apart from any other South African party. While the ANC can pride itself in a history built on congruence against the backdrop of conquering oppression, other parties have often missed out on attracting and increasing followers on account of their inner fragmentation and infighting, with no exception — other than the ANC — justifying this rule.
Only time will tell whether it can replicate its success story once more — many miles away from Mzansi.