Baleka vs ANC Youth League during nomination process

2017-12-17 21:59
ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete looking in the direction of the ANC Youth League's delegation. (Jan Gerber, News24)

ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete looking in the direction of the ANC Youth League's delegation. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Johannesburg – ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete found herself in familiar territory late on Sunday afternoon – trying to maintain order. 

But this time she couldn't call in the "white shirts", as she wasn't presiding over unruly members of the EFF in Parliament, but with members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL ) of the party of which she is national chairperson at their 54th national elective conference.

Shortly after 17:00 the media was allowed into the plenary where the nomination of the ANC's new top six was due to take place. 

NEC list

Upon the media's arrival in the plenary hall, a member of the ANC Women's League insisted that they are allowed to vote for the national executive committee (NEC) with a full list of candidates.

"We can't remember 80 names," said the delegate.

Several delegates spoke, with the counter to the Women's League proposal that delegates should vote according to the mandate they got from their branches. 

While several delegates raised points of order, President Jacob Zuma and his Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa sat quietly on stage next to one another, the former with a green cap, occasionally sharing a chuckle.

‘Order! Order! Order!’

As the electoral officials tried to explain the process to the delegates, members of the ANCYL started yelling: "Order! Order! Order!"

Slowly Mbete rose from where she sat at the end of the top six's table and walked to the podium.

She asked for the shouting to stop and that the delegates continue to listen to the officials. 

"Nooooo!" yelled some ANCYL delegates. "Order!" 

Mbete shot them a look she usually reserves for EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.

"Yes, comrade in the yellow shirt?" she said to give a delegate the floor. 

After hearing him out, she said the electoral official will finish explaining the voting process.

No lists

ANC electoral commission chair Sindiso Mfenyana said the voting will go ahead without lists.

"Nooooo!" yells the youth league.

Delegates from KwaZulu-Natal jumps up to start singing, and Mbete appealed for calm.

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, who said in the run-up to the conference he will resign if Ramaphosa wins, is among the ANCYL delegates.

"Chair! Chair! We've got a constitutional issue! Chair!" Masina shouted, waving a copy of the ANC's constitution above his head.

Mbete went ahead, but delegates from KwaZulu-Natal got up to start singing. 

"Chair! Can you recognise me!" Masina shouted.

Identification documents for voting

A delegate from North West said delegates shouldn't be required to present their identification documents when they vote.

Mbete finally allowed Masina to speak. He read from the ANC's constitution and said if they don't go in with a list, people will vote for people they see on television.

A man in a yellow shirt walked close to the stage, holding up a document branded in ANC colours. He was escorted away by the security personnel. 

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe got up to the podium.

"Amandla!" he said sharply. He said the constitution allows the electoral officials to set the voting procedures.

After David Mahlobo threw in his two pence, convicted fraudster and alleged drunk driver and NEC member Tony Yengeni got up to speak.

Forcing matters

He said the conference is the highest decision-making body of the ANC.

"No rule can be forced on the conference! No rule!"

"Tony! Tony! Tony!" the ANCYL chanted.

Then Naledi Pandor got up.

"We cannot continue in this way," she said sternly.

Mbete agreed and ruled that they will continue with the nomination process. 

"BALEKA! Can we speak!" hollered a delegate from the ANCYL.

"We are here to participate!" yelled a delegate who held up a sign from the Free State.

As the ANCYL started singing, Zuma laughed and said something to Ramaphosa.

Taking aim at the media

"Chase the media out! Chase the media out!" yelled a delegate from the ANCYL.

Delegates from KwaZulu-Natal made the substitution sign as Mbete stood, seemingly forlorn, at the podium, and called "AAAAaaace! AaaaACE!".

Then they started singing the song that indicates it is time for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with delegates from several other provinces joining in.

After a few minutes they calmed down, and the nominations could finally be heard.

The first name to be announced as a presidential candidate is Ramaphosa, who receives only a smidgeon of applause. He didn't show any reaction.

A louder cheer came up for Dlamini-Zuma.

When the electoral official asked if there are any nominations from the floor, a loud "NO!" echoed in the hall.

Withdrawing for the sake of unity

After the other nominations were heard and Zweli Mkhize, Nomvula Mokonyane and Pandor and Vuyiswa Tulelo withdrew their nominations, a delegate from Gauteng asked if the officials can allow more candidates to withdraw for the cause of unity, much to Zuma's amusement.

Mbete announced that it was time for the media to leave. Ramaphosa smiled and saluted journalists who had fixed the cameras on him, with Zuma also grinning and looking around.

The delegates from KwaZulu-Natal got to their feet. The passage to the exit cuts right through the KwaZulu-Natal delegation.

The delegates to the left tapped their wrists and sang that it is time for Dlamini-Zuma, while others made the substitution sign or held up hand-drawn signs proclaiming their love for CR17.

Visit our special report, #ANCVotes, for all the news, analysis and opinions about the ANC’s national elective conference.

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