Tuesday, November 6, 2007

ACDP National Convention: A Ground-swell

I've just returned from Henley-on-Klip. Not from Oprah Winfrey's new school, although I did see it (looks like a modern office block). Actually, the 12-hour return trip was for ACDP's NAGC, or annual national convention.

I came away very encouraged - there was a lot of good news, some of which I'll be sharing over the next few days. More than that, I was just happy to listen and learn and to put my ear to the ground and hear what people are saying, thinking and feeling.

For me, the word that best describes the event is "ground-swell". In any conference like this, especially when votes are taken on potentially controversial issues like labour law, there is always chance for a bit of contention or bad feeling, especially when the attendants hail from so many different ethnic and economic backgrounds. In this light, I was stunned at the togetherness and unity in the party, with a sense of purpose in chasing one vision.

There was one amazing moment during one of Rev Meshoe's speeches, where he was discussing the fraud investigation of the Scorpions unit and how the announcement of allegations came a year after initial reports, timed perfectly as an attempted cover up of the investigations of Selebi. Rev Meshoe said boldly, "Enough is enough", and there was a massive roar from the crowd - a stadium type roar.

Truth is, there are many more than just ACDP supporters saying "Enough is enough". There is in fact a ground-swell of South Africans who are upset with the present system, but most feel that they are somehow powerless to react. In contrast, at this convention we were being presented with an alternative: a party that preserved traditional morals, that stood under the authority of the Bible rather than being a law to itself, and that had every intention of restoring good in this country.

I can still hear that roar...


Anonymous said...

Hi Eric

I really enjoyed reading your article. But, may I challenge you with a question of unity?

How is the staff morale of ACDP employees?

In other words, how many ACDP employees left, resigned, was fired in 2007, especially in the Western Cape?

Eric Savage said...

Thanks for your interest. It's a good question...

The ACDP is a somewhat complex party in that it has to deal with two types of tensions. First of all there are the usual tensions that any multiracial organisation deals with. The Christian emphasis on forgiveness does abate this a lot, along with the unity that comes from chasing something outside of yourself, namely serving God.

Secondly, despite the common Christian worldview, different members do come in with somewhat different political backgrounds. So you'll see a socialist mindset coming through for a moment, and then someone will bring in a conservative approach. The Basic Income Grant is a classic example. I've felt that the tensions have been dealt with very well so far.

What really strains the party is the constant sacrifice. With a very limited budget, members are expected to carry a lot of costs on their own, such as travel and telephone. My father was involved in canvasing for the last municipal elections and it really hurt his pocket, especially as he didn't become a councillor, which would have repaid his efforts.

This means that attendance at meetings, involvement on the Provincial Executive Council, etc are done out-of-hours, because the members have to hold ordinary jobs.

Floor crossing is a sore point for the ACDP, for obvious reasons of betrayal but also because those seats take our election funds along with them. However, there is a new acceptance that floor crossing is a pruning process for us. Undoubtedly, some of the more scheming members have left, usually with cash offers from opposition parties. Nearly all councillors have received offers, and most refuse.

That's the long answer. In short, given the challenge we face, we have our hiccups but we punch way above our weight. At the national convention there was hardly a hint of disunity, which was very refreshing.

I can't speak much for the W.Cape as I'm in KZN, but I am aware of the conflicts that came in due to teaming up with the DA in order to oust the ANC. Not everyone was happy with that compromise, although the end result is that we now have the Deputy Mayor's position, which is a great opportunity. That alone has given the party some impetus in the Cape, and Western Cape continues to be very strong for us.

Eric Savage said...

I should mention one more important thing: at this year's convention, the national president, vice-president and entire National Executive Committee were democratically re-elected (the first two unopposed). Compared to the DA and ANC, that must be a strong statement about the unity of the party.

DISCLAIMER: This blog serves as a commentary and the views presented are not necessary the official views of the ACDP. For official statements and contact details, visit: www.acdp.org.za