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ANCYL open letter to Madam Helen Zille
14 March 2014
Dear Madam Zille,
We have noted your Open Letter to President Zuma dated 13 March 2014. While we would ordinarily not interfere with adults exchanging letters, we deemed it necessary to bring a few issues to your attention regarding the matters you raised. You should be pleased to read this note as we doubt the President should dignify your open letter with a response.
We trust you will agree with us that employment and unemployment, as words, are not exactly synonyms, even though they might be related as phenomena.
Unlike you, we will begin by admitting that you are correct, when President Zuma took Office on the 2nd quarter 2009 (09 May 2009), unemployment was 23.6%. By the fourth quarter 2013, unemployment had increased by 0.5%. This shows the resilience our economy has had under President Zuma during a very difficult global period.
However, this does not "stand in stark contrast to the statements" made by the President. As you said, the President made reference to "increased employment during the course of the last five years." The same source you used to draw attention to the 0.5% increase in unemployment also point to the increase employment. When President Zuma took office in second quarter 2009, the number of employed people was 13.4 million. This number has increased to 15.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
As the ANCYL, we regard lack of jobs, particularly for young people as serious matter with which none of us should trivialize by selective reference to statistics in an attempt to score cheap political points at election time. It is unfortunate that in your quest to seek attention, you chose to use such a sensitive matter. Fortunately, the majority of people understand the ANC government`s efforts to create jobs and the plans for the next five years which we have been explaining to people in various platforms.
In your letter, you proceed to beg for a debate with President Zuma. Similarly, in this regard, you misuse the practice in other African countries to justify why the debate should be allowed. With all due respect and humility, we strongly object to the President of the 102 year gigantic Liberation Movement debating with you.
In the 2012 Ghanaian election you referred to the debates, but you omitted to mention that none of the parties have a clear majority in electoral support. The National Democratic Congress won the 2012 Elections by 50.7% while the opposition New Patriotic Party got 47.7%.
In Sierra Leone, the 2012 elections were won by the All People`s Party with 58.7% while the opposition Sierra Leone People`s Party trailed by 37.4%.
Following the debates you made reference to in Kenya, The Jubilee Alliance led by The National Alliance (TNA) won by 50.5% while the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) led by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) got 43.7%.
Using your own examples in the African Continent, it is clear that none of the opposition political parties was so small as to have less than 35% of the electoral support.
As heirs of the freedom fighters, we believe debates at election time are an opportunity for organisations and leaders to present their respective manifestos and answer questions in order to empower the electorate to make informed decisions. As such, we have been participating in these in various media platforms.
However, the democratic principle of debate should not be misused to assign more significance to a party than it actually has. In the 2009 elections, your party got only 16.7% of the vote. That is less than half of the 35% threshold we can borrow from your examples.
Furthermore, in your letter, you suggest "I would like to challenge you to join me in a nationally televised presidential debate." But last time we checked, your party did not have a presidential candidate after your marriage with Ramphele was over before the honeymoon. As far as we are aware, you are the premier candidate in the Western Cape which means, even if we ignored the 35% threshold, you cannot participate in a "presidential debate."
The only time the ANC President, now and in future, would be in a presidential debate is when there is a party big enough to warrant it and has a presidential candidate. Small parties should not try to ride on the back of the ANC brand to try and make a name for themselves.
Having said that, in the spirit of democracy, we would like to offer an alternative. Instead of you debating with the ANC President. We can suggest that you debate with the ANCYL Coordinator in the Western Cape, Cde Mbulelo Memani, on the state of the province and delivery to townships.
In the likely event that the President does not dignify your letter with a response, let this note serve as clue on why your letter is not deserving of a presidential response.
African National Congress Youth League
Bandile Masuku (ANCYL National Spokesperson) - 071 574 4513