NELSON Mandela Bay's ANC boss, Nceba Faku, slated President Jacob Zuma yesterday, saying he had failed to end the crippling political strife in the city, ignored collective decisions and presided over a "dented" ruling party.
Faku also defended his decision to go against the regional tide, supporting Kgalema Motlanthe for the ANC's top post come Mangaung in December.
His comments come a day after regional secretary Zandisile Qupe pronounced that the majority of the city'sleadership had joined their provincial bosses and thrown their weight behind Zuma's re-election.
Faku's comments also put an end to months of speculation that despite putting up a united front with the president during his visits to the Bay this year, the regional chairman had, in fact, lost faith in Zuma.
"Don't you think we need to change the leadership? I am supporting the move for change," Faku said.
"I am not saying nothing good has been done during Zuma's term, but there are things that are compelling us not to re-elect him. The regional structures continue to be undermined by some strategic deployees.
"We had a regional conference of the ANC and took a decision [to reshuffle the mayoral committee]. We followed up on that decision with the NEC [national executive committee] and, to this day, we are still awaiting a decision on our appeal in pursuing the resolution of the conference.
"The situation in the region is not improving and the municipality is still under-performing," he said.
Zuma, along with other national leaders, visited the Bay last month to finally intervene and attempt to stop the political squabbling that has affected the city for the past year.
The president's visit, however, has not borne any results as the infighting between the regional leaders and city hall bosses continues to plague the metro in the form of service delivery protests and community unrest.
Faku said the decision taken at the regional conference to remove mayor Zanoxolo Wayile was simply ignored by Zuma.
He believed it was time to rebuild the public's confidence in the ANC.
Faku said the 38000 drop in the ANC's membership in the Eastern Cape had to be taken seriously.
"The decline in the membership in the province and the general state of discontent of the ANC within its structures and, generally, within society cannot be taken for granted," he said.
"The public image of the ANC is dented. We must look at the situation and say what is the perception out there about ourselves?
"We need to take into account the rumblings and discourse within the organisation, and we have an opportunity to look into those factors when we go to Mangaung.
"In the public domain, the ANC needs to revamp itself and revive the broader public's confidence."
Faku said he was not deterred by his comrades' decision to back Zuma as his was a personal decision.
"I have no problem with the REC's [regional executive committee's] decision because it is a guide and recommendation to the branches.
"The matter is for the branches and individual members to decide and we dare not tamper with members to have that space. We don't want branches to say they were steamrolled. It's only advice from the region, not a directive."
Faku is not alone in his hope for a change in leadership.
The ANC Youth League in the province and the region is also punting Motlanthe as president and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as his deputy.
Some parts of the Eastern Cape, particularly OR Tambo – the province's biggest region – are also campaigning for a change in leadership.
The pro-change group will, however, face tough opposition from Bay branches, many of whom are supporting Zuma.
The ANC Women's League and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans' Association (MKVA) are also pushing for a second term for Zuma.
MKVA regional chairman Malusi Pane said Zuma had done well and needed more time to "finish his work".
"He has done a lot for the ministry of defence and veterans, and we like his open-door policy in addressing issues."