ANC conference erupts

2017-10-01 06:00
Phumulo Masualle, chairperson of the Eastern Cape ANC (standing), chats with his main rival for the position, Oscar Mabuyane, during the raucous provincial conference. PHOTO: Lubabalo Ngcukana

Phumulo Masualle, chairperson of the Eastern Cape ANC (standing), chats with his main rival for the position, Oscar Mabuyane, during the raucous provincial conference. PHOTO: Lubabalo Ngcukana

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The ANC Eastern Cape conference last night still had the cloud of a possible interdict hanging over its head after getting off to a delayed and very rocky start on Friday.

The interdict threat came as a result of a dispute over alleged bogus delegates, also called “friends of conference”, who were said to have made their way into the plenary hall of the East London International Convention Centre (ICC).

On Friday evening ANC members stormed the venue, bulldozed their way through the security check point and forced the conference to be prematurely adjourned before credentials could be tabled.

Before proceedings were disrupted, chairperson Phumulo Masualle made his opening remarks by painting a gloomy picture of the ruling party.

After finishing his speech, there was a point of order from the floor, raised by the OR Tambo’s regional chairperson Xolile Nkompela and in turn refused by the chairperson of the session, Sakhumzi Somyo, who pleaded with him to sit down.

The media and guests were then asked to leave the plenary. City Press later learnt that Nkompela wanted to raise the issue as to why the provincial executive committee (PEC) officials had taken a unilateral decision to amend the first day’s programme, a decision that should have been taken in plenary by conference delegates, according to him.

Then followed unconfirmed reports that a court interdict was pending to stop the conference. However, this was disputed by Amathole’s regional secretary, Teris Ntuthu.

Amathole’s chairperson, Khanyile KC Maneli, claimed there were bogus delegates in attendance. He deduced this from the apparent more than 2 500 delegates at the the conference, while there were only 1 700 accredited delegates.

As if this were not enough, proceedings could not kick off at 07:00 yesterday morning as scheduled. Only after 11:00 did the verification process start.

In a bid to clear up the issue of alleged bogus delegates, attendants were asked to present identity documents and name tags. Each region was called and had their delegates verified.

Along Esplanade Road on the beach front where the ICC is situated supporters of chairperson position contenders Masualle and Oscar Mabuyane tried to outdo each other with singing.

Inside the venue on Friday afternoon supporters of Mabuyane, known as the “Soweto train”, had dominated. Wearing yellow T-shirts, they sang pro-Mabuyane songs, danced up and down in the hall, and formed a human chain.

When Mabuyane, who is outgoing provincial secretary, took to the podium under increasingly loud singing, he called on his supporters to rather honour OR Tambo with their singing, whose centenary was being celebrated this year.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, a member of the NEC, made a similar call, asking delegates to sing songs that could unify the members. But many delegates continued to sing for Mabuyane.

Meanwhile, delegates were warned not to sport T-shirts showing support for either Mabuyane or Masualle.

“A very convenient debate”

Provincial leaders and spokespeople had differing versions as to why the delays and chaotic scenes took place. Lindiwe Zulu, NEC member, said delegates were caucusing and sharing ideas and agreeing and disagreeing as this was normal for an ANC conference.

“At the end of the day this is an ANC conference. It will start when the delegates are ready. It’s not a conference about ourselves as members of the national executive committee or whoever. It’s a delegates’ conference,” Zulu said.

Mlibo Qoboshiyane, ANC provincial spokesperson, yesterday said the process had been delayed because registration teams and credentials committee had to “clean up finally” all the issues around the complaints about the legitimacy of attending delegates.

“The issue now is about those who are claiming to be valid delegates but are left outside, and those who thought they were valid but were declared not, and who are inside the plenary.

"Some of them were told to go back to the registration centres to hand over their cards. We know those branches, we know who they are,” Qoboshiyane said.

Mabuyane spoke to City Press on the sidelines of the conference. He pledged his support for the ANC deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mabuyane is contesting the current chairperson, Masualle, who is seeking a third term.

Mabuyane said: “The debate about a women president is flawed. The ANC is not a gender commission.”

Mabuyane stressed that these debates were misguided because in policy the ANC has been ready to be led by female comrades for years.

He said the December elective conference was a matter of the ANC getting its act together and electing the “correct leadership”, whether male or female.

“The ANC has a well-established culture and tradition. The stability of the ANC at a leadership level moves over 20 years.

"If you have a president for 10 years and the deputy president coming for another 10 years, that guarantees the country a 20-year stability in terms of leadership.

“This thing of saying everybody can be president is very ... mischievous,” he commented.

He described the gender issue as “a very convenient debate” because “tomorrow when all regional secretaries and provincial secretaries and chairpersons are availing themselves for president, what are you going to say?”

“Are you going to say, no, you have never been in the NEC? So, It can’t be, because the ANC has a well-established culture,” Mabuyane said.

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Read more on:    pec  |  anc  |  phumulo masualle  |  cyril ramaphosa

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