OR Tambo: a region in crisis

2012-08-11 15:44

Allegations of sexual harassment between members of different factions and fights about access to the ANC are but some of the unintended consequences of the aborted elective congress in the ANC’s OR Tambo region last weekend.

The region is the second-largest in the party and the largest and most influential in the Eastern Cape, from where about a fifth of the ANC’s delegates to its national elective congress in December in Mangaung will come.

Opponents of President Jacob Zuma, many among which are supporters of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s bid for the party’s leadership, aimed to use this region to test their strength.

The region’s leaders are opposed to a second term for Zuma.

They accused his supporters in the party’s provincial leadership of deliberately sabotaging the congress after seeing they could not win.

The provincial leaders, who adjourned the congress on Monday seconds before the election results could be announced, almost resulting in leaders exchanging blows on stage, have subsequently declared the region’s old leadership dissolved.

But the region has refused to recognise this, saying they won the congress by one vote.

This week armed guards chased away officials from the province who wanted to take over the region’s office in Mthatha.

Regional secretary Jackson Sabona has written a letter to secretary-general Gwede Mantashe begging for intervention.

In the letter he blames provincial deputy secretary Helen Sauls-August for the inconsistency between the votes cast in the congress and the amount of delegates attending – the reason why the congress was collapsed.

Sabona alleges she purposely fiddled with delegate accreditation by registering four “delegates” from Port St John’s ward 27 despite Port St Johns having only 20 wards, something provincial leaders deny.

Sabona also found himself in court this week when a provincial leader in the pro-Zuma camp laid a charge of sexual harassment against him, allegedly for kissing her.

He denied this, saying she hugged and kissed him, and the case was thrown out.

Zuma’s support is fizzling out in the Eastern Cape, where three out of the province’s regions reject him outright.

These are the Sarah Baartman (formerly Cacadu), Nelson Mandela Bay, and Buffalo City regions, while Amathole – the second-biggest region in the province – seems likely to lean in the same direction after its congress next weekend.

The Chris Hani region is divided, while members in the smaller Alfred Nzo and Joe Gqabi regions are said to support Zuma.

Read the report and urgent appeal for intervention here

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