Marius Fransman to take on Helen Zille
Cape Town - Deputy International Relations Minister Marius Fransman was on Saturday elected unopposed as Western Cape's provincial ANC chairman.
Former provincial chair Mcebisi Skwatsha who was expected to oppose Fransman eventually declined his nomination at the much postponed Western Cape ANC conference.
Speaking to Sapa afterwards, Fransman said the province had come through a "very good conference" where a total of 718 delegates had voting rights.
His priority now was to regain popular support amongst the people, Fransman said.
There were serious tensions in the different communities in the province and the new leadership would now try to reconnect with the people and civil society in all areas, from Bonteheuvel to Khayelitsha and the rural areas, he said.
Earlier, President Jacob Zuma urged the provincial ANC to put unity ahead of individual leadership interests.
He had harsh words for delegates saying the meeting was taking place at a time when the Western Cape branch was facing its most acute challenges.
Discussion about leadership had become the single most important issue and was taking precedence over the state of the ANC in the province, he said
The conference was preoccupied with one thing only - voting for the leadership - instead of looking to the upcoming local government elections and the task of wrestling power from the Democratic Alliance.
"That is a sickness that kills this organisation," said Zuma.
The ANC in the Western Cape had been "fighting itself", giving other parties the opportunity to win elections as ANC supporters stood back because of the infighting.
"We have even failed as an opposition [to the DA] in the Western Cape."
The ANC did not have the time to be an effective opposition because "we are dealing with one another", Zuma said
Support for the party in the province had drastically declined and new membership was growing "very slowly".
He said this should be of concern to all serious ANC members as it was spending more energy and time on one another.
The Western Cape was the only province in which the ANC was promoting internal differences.
What was happening in the province threatened the ANC's core principle - the unity of the movement - thus weakening the party.
"This is a painful truth," he said. He said the Western Cape ANC needed visionary and revolutionary leadership that understood the centrality of unity.