Monday, January 28, 2008

Inside View: An ACDP Meeting

With a world of shenanigans, wild promises, concealed corruption and a bag of tricks up any given sleeve, you might wonder just what goes on inside a political party. Just what do they discuss at their meetings?

Well, here's an inside look at a typical ACDP meeting, a regional one I attended on Saturday in my role as a Provincial Executive Council member...

Not particularly well attended, numbers were typical of a "mid-season", the time between elections. Election time naturally draws a small crowd of hopefuls, and of course the energy levels rise when the competition heats up. Nevertheless, there are always the faithful few who keep the fires burning and spur the others on. Again we were the faithful few, the stalwarts.

Personalities? Looking around the room that day, I saw a steady-eddie type, very principled but mostly a gentle, understated motivator. Then there was a real rock - a solid, well-weighted person who gave a good answer to every question. A quiet person to the right. Then next to me a loyal servant of the party for many years, enthusiastic but more likely to follow than to lead - good people to work with. Another three who made small contributions with regards to council matters in the city. And then another with a very principled view and keen to emphasise any good points that came up. To my right, a more proactive type, quite involved in a poor community, helping poor families fill out grant forms - working at the grass roots, an eager beaver for community matters. And lastly, a strong person, not saying as much, but with a lot to say, if you get what I mean. Overall, a gentle, cohesive bunch made up of 3 different ethnicities.

The agenda was very well adhered to, with particular emphasis on protocol - a record of apologies, a register and a brief word of encouragement from each person in turn. There is a strong Christian emphasis in the party, with plenty of prayer, a Scripture here and there, and frequent mention of the Lord. My personal contribution was a reminder from the Bible that those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much. It was met with thank you's, approving mm-hms and amens.

Formalities aside it was a really productive meeting. We tackled the inevitable issue of funding. I suggested selling ACDP marked merchandise, with would bring in funding, help with marketing and give the buyers an increased sense of belonging. There was mention of opening a bank account for one of the branches. Of course an account incurs bank charges, but the ACDP is the only party in South Africa that keeps its books completely open, so transparency of funds is important.

So maybe this is boring and you want juicy titbits? Well, it emerged that one of the members had been a key member of a local organisation taking care of orphans. The ANC mayor recognised the threat this councillor held with such a good role and promptly spent R500,000 (apparently) on a Christmas party for the orphans. A video was made of the work the ANC "is doing with orphans". Of course, we have no chance of competing with this, except to make a story of it, which our media person will now do with the local paper.

Other administrative matters aside, we discussed marketing, always a key point. Attention was pulled back to the ugliest but most important marketing method: door-to-door visitation. Simply, every representive in an area needs to knock as many doors as possible. It's pretty daunting! And of course you don't get paid for it, except that if you do well and get elected, then you get a councillor's salary (R9000 - R14000 per month). Personally, I'm thinking of just going down a local business street and walking to every counter and saying: Hi, just want to let you know that the ACDP are in the area. If they tell me to foetsak, I'll promise to be back in one month just to prove that we keep our promises!

I guess a meeting like this would bore most people, but running a political party is far more about administration and motivation than about planning where to plant secret microphones in rival offices! In the ACDP we have this small hope: that all of the hard work we've put in over the 14 years will be justly rewarded and not undone by an unjust political system. Here's hoping. And praying.

1 comment:

Bruce said...


Thank you for your faithfulness as well as an inside peek (without resorting to bugging) into your regional meeting.

Keep up the good work!

Bruce Harbour
ACDP Chairman

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