ANC NC conference gets underway with Lucas slammed for reshuffle

2017-05-11 18:43
Rivals Zamani Saul and Sylvia Lucas contesting ANC NC chair chat during congress. (Mahlatse Gallens, News24)

Rivals Zamani Saul and Sylvia Lucas contesting ANC NC chair chat during congress. (Mahlatse Gallens, News24)

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Colesberg - Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas faced a hostile reception as the ANC provincial congress finally got underway in Colesberg on Thursday. The conference that started several hours late, got underway with the seat allocated to Lucas in front of the stage initially empty.

When she finally took her seat, she had to endure criticism for her cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday by alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP.

Lucas changed her executive on the eve of the conference, angering the ANC at head office and the ANC in her province.

The delegates cheered loudly as the leaders of Cosatu and the SACP labelled her Cabinet reshuffle mischievous, selfish and an insult to the ANC.

Cosatu provincial secretary Anele Gxoyiya said the conference was gathering amid maximum tensions generated by haters of unity, hell bent on creating divisions along racial and ethical lines.

“The recent development of the so-called Cabinet reshuffle, not sanctioned by the ANC ... we view it as counter-revolutionary and an insult of the highest order to the ANC,“ Gxoyiya said.

He said the conference must condemn the “mischievous” Cabinet reshuffle as it was not informed by the intention to strengthen the Cabinet or service delivery but was motivated by “selfish interests”.

“Most importantly it is an insult to you as delegates to this conference …..You elect leaders to represent your interest and they, in turn, overlook your interests and focus on their own selfish interest," Gxoyiya said.

His speech was met with cheers from the majority of delegates.  

Political centre

A few members of the Youth League tried to interrupt him and started singing.

There was also howling from some members of the provincial executive committee sitting on the stage.

Following Gxoyiya's speech, the crowd burst into a song that loosely translated meant that he/she must go.

It was seen as a reference to Lucas, who is contesting the secretary Zamani Saul for the position of provincial chair. At the start of the conference, leaders had warned delegates against singing divisive songs.

The SACP’s provincial secretary Norman Shushu followed, with more thinly veiled attacks on Lucas and President Jacob Zuma. He said the ANC was no longer the centre of power.

“All of us who are in government right from the president to ministers, premiers to parliament, are deployed by the ANC. When we assume those responsibilities, we cannot exercise those responsibilities without consulting the ANC.

“The ANC should not just be consulted as the political centre but it must concur with the decisions,” Shushu said.

Zuma criticised

Zuma has also faced criticism following the midnight Cabinet reshuffle that was called the "Night of the Long Knives" when he fired five ministers without consulting the ANC and alliance partners.

Lucas left the marquee when Shushu started speaking. She returned later.  

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said Lucas betrayed the party’s trust while Saul labelled it an ambush.

Saul supporters said it was an attempt to intimidate her rivals ahead of the congress.

Shushu also criticised Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family that he calls friends. He said the political centre had shifted from Luthuli house (the ANC’s headquarters) to Saxonworld.

“We cannot have a situation where the ANC is undermined and decisions are made by the Guptas. You must build a strong ANC whose power will not be flipped by any unelected person no matter how much money they have ….we must never allow the ANC to be undermined by anybody,” Shushu said.

The elective conference will be addressed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday and delegates are expected to also vote for new leadership.

Read more on:    sacp  |  cosatu  |  anc  |  zamani saul  |  sylvia lucas

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