The ANC’s problem province

2010-11-21 09:10

The ANC in North West has for a long time been grappling with factionalism and corruption within the party.

Delivering the organisational report at the national general council in September in Durban, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe described the province as being “notorious for continued fights among very hostile and antagonistic factions”.

He said the factional fights dated back to more than a decade. North West is one of the four provinces that backed former president Thabo Mbeki for his unsuccessful third-term attempt at the watershed ANC elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.

After losing in Polokwane, the province held its elective congress in May 2008 at Sun City. The conference turned into chaos as delegates fought, protested outside the venue and complained of irregularities and vote-rigging.

The police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. As a result some refused to accept the new provincial executive committee, which was seen as Mbeki loyalists or packed with the “Talibans”.

“It is this conference that ushered in a new culture of open physical fights in ANC meetings, resulting in the Sun City conference broadcast as a ‘war zone’,” said Mantashe.

Luthuli House launched an investigation, led by national executive committee member Fikile Mbalula, into the newly-elected PEC.

The ANC NEC – the party’s highest decision making body between conferences – decided to disband the PEC after last year’s general election, and replaced it with the provincial task team (PTT), chaired by former ANC Youth League leader Saki Mofokeng.

“The province is deeply divided and factions are almost institutionalised in that they are known and openly talked about. Business interests, control of resources and patronage are at the centre of the divisions in the province.

“Deployment to government and state departments at both provincial and local levels is perceived to be or in reality determined on the basis of group loyalties,” said Mantashe last year when he announced the NEC decision to disband the PEC.

Although the Mbalula team had recommended that the PEC be disbanded with immediate effect, the ruling party opted to take that decision after the provincial and national elections.

This was out of fear of a possibility that if disbanded before the elections, the majority of PEC members would join the ANC breakaway party, the Congress of the People.

The PTT, tasked with rebuilding the party and convening a conference within nine months, was put in place last year.

In turn, the PTT decided to disband all the regions and replaced them with regional task teams (RTTs). The RTT followed the PTT’s lead by disbanding all branches and brought in the branch task teams.

But it was not long before some in the party and tripartite alliance partners accused the PTT of factionalist tendencies. Axed premier Maureen Modiselle had aligned herself with the PTT.

She was seen as a lame duck premier who was remote controlled by her handlers in the PTT. The ANC NEC, which has the final say on the appointment of premiers, decided on Thandi Modise to lead the party’s provincial government which has had to deal with a spate of service-delivery protests in the past.
The ANC in the province will hold its elective conference next year.

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