ANC branches drag their feet over preferred leadership candidates

2017-11-12 06:01
President Jacob Zuma, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize at the party’s NEC meeting in Irene, Pretoria, yesterday. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

President Jacob Zuma, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize at the party’s NEC meeting in Irene, Pretoria, yesterday. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

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Johannesburg - With one week left for ANC branches to nominate their preferred leadership candidates, most provinces are only halfway through the task.

“We are pushing provinces to finish them by November 15, although people talk of the 19th, which is a weekend,” ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said yesterday during this weekend’s special sitting of the national executive committee (NEC).

He dismissed talk of giving branches more time.

“We have not decided to extend any time for them, so nobody must talk about extension of time.

“People must hold branch meetings within the set time.

The NEC meeting is discussing the organisation’s readiness for its national elective conference next month.

Delegates will elect a successor to President Jacob Zuma, the ANC’s five other senior officials and a new NEC.

Mantashe said about half of branches had held their general meetings.

“Many provinces are doing relatively well. There is one province which is over 90% with their meetings.

“There is a province which is at 76%, a province at 71% and another at 29%. We will be pushing for provinces to finish the work. Many are not yet in the 70%.

"Many are at about 50% at the moment,” Mantashe said.

He refused to disclose which province was the 29% laggard.

However, a former ANC leader in North West, China Dodovu said the slowest progress was being recorded in that province and the Free State.

He said this was linked to the fact that membership numbers had been artificially inflated since the last ANC conference.

“When you analyse the branch membership in North West today, strangely and suspiciously almost half of branches have more than 1 000 members. In their history, it is for the first time such branches have so many members.

"Given the tight guidelines, these branches are failing to form a quorum,” Dodovu said.

The meetings allow ANC branches to have their say on who should lead the party for the next five-year term.

Seven candidates have thrown their hats into the ring: Jeff Radebe, Lindiwe Sisulu, Baleka Mbete, Zweli Mkhize and Mathews Phosa.

The two frontrunners are current deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Mantashe said there was as yet no cause for concern about the violence breaking out at some branch general meetings.

“Issues of violence are not as widespread as they were in the run-up to the previous conference. Pictures being spread widely create the impression that there is blood on the floor at meetings.”

He said those matters were being dealt with case by case.

The NEC is scheduled to sit until tomorrow. It will make a final decision on the Eastern Cape elective conference, which turned into a bloody, chair-flinging brawl in October.

Allies of the Zuma faction want to have the outcomes of the conference nullified and the elected leadership replaced with a task team favourable to them.

Oscar Mabuyane, a staunch Ramaphosa loyalist, was elected provincial chairperson at that conference.

There is talk that the Zuma faction will call for Ramaphosa to be punished for announcing his preferred slate in Limpopo last weekend.

In a statement on Monday, Mantashe reprimanded the action and said it denied the branches the right to choose.

Yesterday, Mantashe said the issue was not on the NEC’s formal agenda, but could be raised from the floor.

Read more on:    anc  |  gwede mantashe  |  anc leadership race  |  politics

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