Newsmaker: ANC leaders are to blame

2017-10-08 05:47
COOL HEAD Eastern Cape ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane addresses a press briefing in King William’s Town on July 12 2011. Picture: Werner Hills / Foto24

COOL HEAD Eastern Cape ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane addresses a press briefing in King William’s Town on July 12 2011. Picture: Werner Hills / Foto24

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It has been five days since ANC delegates gave Oscar Mabuyane the nod to become the party’s new Eastern Cape chairperson and he is still fired up about the ugly events of last weekend.

However, he has to keep a cool head because “this ship has to go forward despite the turbulence”.

“We do not have the luxury to continue celebrating divisions in the organisation,” Mabuyane told City Press in an interview on Thursday.

“It is a matter of we must, not a choice, to lead the ANC in the Eastern Cape.”

Mabuyane (43), who hails from Ngcobo, says the new executive leads both members and supporters who vote for the ANC and has a duty to inspire hope that the party intends to change people’s lives.

That does not seem to square up with the events of last weekend, when conference delegates flung chairs, banged on tables, threw water bottles and destroyed the flower arrangements.

Mabuyane says it may have previously been thought that only the party’s foot soldiers needed political education, but the East London conference showed that “even senior leaders need political education”.

“If you have been in the office for eight years, it does not mean that people must choose you. It does not work like that.

“The more people understand you and think that you are a solution to their problems, the more they will keep supporting you.”

Mabuyane is blunt about the source of the ructions.

“So many problems of the ANC are caused by leaders and not members.”

Their selfish interests were being allowed to supersede the goals of the organisation, to the point of paralysing the party.

But he is optimistic about his provincial leadership.

“It is a generation that must rise to the occasion and try to lift the ANC to a higher pedestal, in line with what the ANC was formed for.”

The ANC’s loss of key metros during last year’s municipal elections was as a result of divisions and an indictment of the leadership of the party, Mabuyane says.

“We cannot continue celebrating divisions and all these kinds of shenanigans that are characterising the ANC.”

The violence happened because his opponents realised they were losing the conference.

“It is something that must be rejected because it is embarrassing the ANC. You cannot collapse the ANC simply because you feel that you are not going to be elected.”

Mabuyane says that had the conference collapsed, it would have set a precedent for all future party conferences, including the national elective conference in December.

“If we allow it here, there will never be a national conference because any group could arrive at the point where, if they feel they cannot win the conference, then they will disrupt it.”

"As the leadership we were helpless"

The disgruntled group has appealed to ANC headquarters Luthuli House to have the conference nullified. Mabuyane says he is not worried.

“The conference was officiated by national executive committee members and they said that we are not going to succumb to anarchy and that the conference will go ahead.”

He is a former SRC president of Fort Hare University.

He is irked by the fact that the conference made headlines for being a “festival of chairs” – as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa dubbed it – while the considerable efforts made to try and avert the violence were ignored.

The problems started long before the gathering, when some accused Mabuyane of being in an unfair position to sway the results his way, because he was the provincial secretary.

He says he opened up the process and even involved the national ANC in the registration of delegates.

“It was part of our commitment to deliver a credible conference because I was viewed as a suspect.

“My objectivity was tested to the limits and some said they cannot trust me to be the leader of the process.”

On the day of the conference, people complained about bogus delegates.

Leaders then decided to remove everyone from the premises and get them validated one by one. This took nine hours.

“When we wanted to start the conference, people raised other issues, including credentials.

"But there were no problems and that is why the only option at their disposal was to disrupt the conference and reject everything.”

For four hours, Mabuyane says, “other delegates were sitting down, folding their arms and watching painfully as the ANC conference was being dragged and dragged and dragged by a group of people who just turned out to be hooligans”.

“As the leadership we were helpless, hopeless and we could not do anything until that skirmish took place.

"People must not talk about what happened at the tail end and forget about all that happened before.”

When delegates stood up and tried to save the ANC from anarchy, people were moved out of the conference venue. Those who returned were not chased away.

“It was not about chasing delegates. It was about removing an ill-disciplined group which told itself that the ANC will now be an anarchic organisation.”

Mabuyane says the new provincial executive would meet tomorrow to appoint provincial working committees, subcommittees and deployees to be sent to regions.

They were talking to members of the previous executive to get them to help.

“Some of them have been in the provincial executive for the last eight years and you cannot just throw them in the dustbin like that because they were not elected. They are an asset.”

Read more on:    anc  |  oscar mabuyane  |  sa politics

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