'Calculating' members disrupt conferences - analyst

2012-11-29 23:33
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Calculated moves by ANC members to disrupt branch meetings and the implementation of slates have led to disarray in the party's provincial nomination conferences, an analyst said on Thursday.

Slates are fixed and mutually exclusive leadership lists drafted by rival factions ahead of an elective conference.

Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir said if the African National Congress did not prevent slates from being implemented, the national conference in Mangaung could have "severe consequences" for the party.

"Firstly, there are practical realities to the nomination conferences, such as organising venues, and this could potentially delay conferences," Fakir said.

"Secondly, some factions in branches who are supporting a specific candidate [for ANC president] make a calculated move to not attend branch meetings, so that the branch does not reach quorum."

The provincial conferences could only take place once branch regional meetings had been concluded.

Fakir said the potential consequences for slates could be disastrous for the party.

"If there are slates, this time the consequences will be more severe than [the last national conference in] Polokwane," he said.

Fakir said there were slates at Polokwane and this left a lot of members out of higher positions in the party. If there was a slate that put President Jacob Zuma at the top, and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe challenged his position and lost, Motlanthe would no longer be able to stay on as ANC deputy president.

"There are some serious-minded people in the ANC who are trying to stem the tide of mutually exclusive slates," Fakir said.

"If there are slates it will spell the beginning of the end for the ANC."

Provinces were scrambling to hold their conferences before Friday, which was the deadline imposed by the ANC's national executive committee - a cut-off which had already been extended by four days.

Only one of the party's nine provinces, KwaZulu-Natal, had completed its nomination conference by Thursday afternoon. The province, the ANC's biggest, had come out in support of Zuma for a second term.

The Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga nomination conferences were scheduled to take place on Thursday.

Zuma backed

At the Free State conference,  President Jacob Zuma was backed for a second term as party leader at the ANC's elective conference in December.

"As the provincial executive committee our feeling is that Zuma must take us over and finish what he has started as the president of the African National Congress,” provincial secretary William Bulwana said at the beginning of the nomination conference.

After over nine hours of waiting, the conference finally began at 19:30.

Delegates sang: "We'll take Zuma by hand and put him in Luthuli House".

The heat and the delay at the Boiketlong Sports Centre in Sasolburg had not dampened the spirit of the delegates who continued to sing while the broken public address system caused further delays.

Bulwana said the only region that had delayed the registration process was the Thabo Mofutsanyana. It was finally processed and all the delegates made it into the centre's main hall.

Most of the delegates wore T-shirts with the slogan "Phinda Msholozi" (Do it again Msholozi). Msholozi is Zuma's clan name.

The same T-shirts had the number 2 printed on the back, along with the word "Zumantashe", a conflation of Zuma's and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe's names.

"Because the lobbying process was opened on the first of October we’ve got the feeling that many members of these branches have gone along those lines of saying that Zuma must become the president of the ANC.

"It will just be tightened up today and be formalised," said Bulwana.

All the members of the ANC provincial committee were present, including the premier and provincial chairman Ace Magashule.

Closed to the media

In Gauteng, the conference was still underway, but provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile promised that delegates would be allowed to debate without fear of intimidation.

"We have agreed as Gauteng that let's allow branches to discuss their will freely, and... today there is nobody fighting here," he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

"Once the process of voting is done, we will accept that those are the results, and those names will go forward as the nomination of Gauteng."

He said he did not know who the branches had nominated.

"When the branches nominate, the nominations go into a sealed envelope. So theoretically speaking nobody knows who is nominated, it is just that we get rumours."

Mashatile said only 350 branches had completed their membership audits. About 100 others still had to conclude theirs.

"Those who have gone through [the audit] get the opportunity to vote tonight [Thursday]," he said.

"But those who are being audited, if they conclude tomorrow... they will still get an opportunity to attend [the national conference]."

Nearly 500 African National Congress delegates gathered at Turffontein race course in Johannesburg on Thursday evening for the event.

The ANC's traditional black, green and gold were barely evident on the delegates' clothing as most were dressed casually.

Before the conference began, members from the Ekurhuleni region sang about former ANC president Oliver Tambo, and held up two fingers, symbolising a second term for President Jacob Zuma.

They later sang in favour of "Msholozi"..

The Gauteng provincial executive committee had previously decided to ban t-shirts with slogans or images supporting candidates, or songs that derided them.

A few female delegates cheered after Mashatile entered the venue. They then rolled their hands in a motion associated with calling for the substitution of a soccer player.

This gesture is linked to the call for Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma in Mangaung.

When Mashatile introduced himself to delegates, all cheered, except those from Ekurhuleni. Several rolled their hands.

"I am happy when you are singing and not insulting anyone," Mashatile said.

Most of the conference, including the announcement of nomination results, was closed to the media.

Irregular

But, in the Eastern Cape , the party's conference was postponed to Friday to allow the party time to verify the credentials of delegates, after the outcome of a unanimous vote by the OR Tambo region in Mthatha for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to lead the party was rejected.

Provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane told Sapa the meeting, by the ANC's second-largest region, was "irregular" and "not properly convened".

"The meeting was flawed. It was not properly convened and was not a formal meeting. It is neither here nor there that we accept the outcome or not."

The Eastern Cape ANC was due to nominate leaders for the party's national elective conference in Mangaung in December, at the University of Fort Hare, in Alice, on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the ANC in the Eastern Cape was hit by reports of "ghost members" on its membership book.

Databases from public and private institutions had been used to obtain people's details and enrol them, Mabuyane said. Some were not even aware they were ANC members.

The culprits had also deposited R12 joining fees, so the ghost members were in "good standing".

Mabuyane said the problem was discovered when the membership register was checked ahead of branch meetings to discuss the Mangaung conference.

"The national audit team has finalised its work of verifying the delegates. Once that has been done we can proceed," he said.

On Wednesday the OR Tambo region unanimously voted to nominate Motlanthe to lead the party.

The Daily Dispatch reported that all 107 delegates at the meeting supported Motlanthe to take over as ANC president, with Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as his deputy and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula as secretary general.

Regional chairperson Thandekile Sabisa told the SABC on Wednesday that under Zuma the party had failed to address issues raised at the 2007 Polokwane conference.

"The use of state power, factionalism, ill-discipline, etc... This leadership has failed to address those issues. It's not credible, it's under attack and not respected by opposition parties," he said.

"We then said, let's find leadership that will be respected by the people of South Africa and the membership of the ANC. Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe, we believe, is the one that would bring back the dignity of the organisation."

The Eastern Cape would take 676 delegates, the second-biggest delegation, to the ANC's leadership election in December.

Zuma stronghold

Late on Thursday, ANC delegates in Mpumalanga backed Zuma for a second term as party president at their nomination conference in Middelburg.

National executive committee member Ramaphosa was chosen as Zuma's deputy, Mbete as chairperson, Mantashe as secretary general, Jessie Duarte as deputy secretary general, and Zweli Mkhize as treasurer.

Vote counting ended just after 23:00. A total of 469 delegates took part, choosing their candidates to stand for leadership posts at the African National Congress's national elective conference in Mangaung next month.

Delegates from across the province, a stronghold of President Zuma, converged on the Steve Tshwete municipality's banquet hall in Middelburg for the conference.

Party delegates from Enhlanzeni, the biggest region by the number of delegates, and the Gert Sibande region, indicated their support for Ramaphosa to be Zuma's right-hand man.

"It is time for Ramaphosa to get into party leadership. We are convinced that he is ready now," said Skhumbuso Masango, a Gert Sibande delegate.

Shortly after 23:00 the conference was still underway, with delegates preparing to nominate 80 additional party leaders.

Motlanthe endorsement

On Tuesday, the Limpopo ANC postponed its provincial conference to Friday. This was to allow 70 branches to conclude their branch general meetings.

The North West, Western Cape and Northern Cape were also scheduled to have their conferences on Friday.

According to the SABC on Thursday afternoon ANC branches in the Dullah Omar region, the biggest in the Western Cape, endorsed Motlanthe.

Meanwhile, the ANC Veterans' League nominated Zuma to serve a second term as party leader.

Ramaphosa was nominated to take over from ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Several ANC branches, as well as the African National Congress Youth League, had nominated Motlanthe for president.

He had not yet stated whether he would accept the nominations.

The ANCVL wanted to retain Mbete as ANC chairperson and Mantashe as secretary general.

Duarte was nominated as deputy secretary general and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Mkhize as treasurer.

The veterans had their nomination conference at the Reef Hotel in Johannesburg.

The ANC's national conference would take place in Mangaung in December.

- SAPA

Read more on:    anc  |  ancyl  |  ancwl  |  jacob zuma  |  baleka mbete  |  tokyo sexwale  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  gwede mantashe  |  mangaung 2012  |  politics
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