ANC national executive committee members deployed to the Eastern Cape are delighted that the province has come to a point of holding its elective conference.
ANC national spokesperson and NEC member Zizi Kodwa said 20 members of the NEC had been in the province for about a month, as teams visited regions and branches to deal with disputes.
He was speaking at a delayed press conference at the East London International Convention Centre on Thursday night ahead of the party’s eighth elective conference.
Kodwa said the much anticipated conference was not just an elective conference, but one to achieve two things – to restore confidence of the people in the ANC and to continue to inspire hope.
“We are here to work to ensure a successful conference. We are part of the teams that are working to make sure until Sunday when we rise, this conference indeed would be a resounding success,” Kodwa said.
Phumulo Masualle, provincial ANC chairperson and premier, said: “We have come a long way but at this moment we can confirm that it’s all systems go. As you would know the work of the conference is preceded by branches of the ANC that have to participate in the process starting from the verification, the audits and everything else,” he said.
Masualle, who is believed to be seeking a third term as provincial chair against current provincial secretary, Oscar Mabuyane, said 568 branches have been accredited to participate at the conference, which was way above the constitutional requirement of an above 70% threshold.
“As things stand we are ready to proceed. We began with the accreditation and registration is also continuing as we speak ... and we are hoping to proceed with the conference as planned. Indeed we are happy to have reached this point.
“You would know that we have a national conference not so long from now but the secretary-general’s [Gwede Mantashe] office on behalf of the NEC has indicated that this would be the last of conferences, be it regional or provincial. Therefore we are the last to have a conference because beyond September 30, there won’t be any conference held,” Masualle said.
The press conference was supposed to start at 14:00 but was delayed to 17:00 as a last minute provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting at the East London City Hall took longer than expected. But it did not start at 17:00 either and only began two hours later.
The marathon PEC meeting was apparently being delayed by last minute disputes which threatened to derail the conference.
But at the end the leadership of the province showed a united front, presenting a glossy state of readiness.
Mabuyane said they were stuck in the PEC meeting to ensure that they “fine-comb” all the problems.
“This is a serious conference of the ANC, the eighth conference in this province. We needed to ensure it meets the requirements of the ANC as indicated in the ANC constitution. So the meeting [PEC] was about that – to go into detail with everything and clear everything that might be unclear out there. Yes indeed the 70% threshold was met long time ago,” he said.
Mabuyane said conferences of the ANC were not only about elections but about serious matters of the country.
On national leadership
With the national conference coming in December, Masualle said it had always been deliberate for the Eastern Cape not to pronounce on who it supports to take over from President Jacob Zuma when his term ends.
“Experience is somewhat the best teacher so we have learnt from that. When we have our own conference we took a posture that we shall refrain from pronouncing support for a candidate as it relates to the national process until we have gone through our provincial conference,” he said.
Masualle said it was only after their provincial conference that they could pronounce on who the province supports. The main contenders are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Masualle said branches of the ANC and the incoming PEC would immediately after the conference deal with the issue of the national conference.
“Of course there are those who are crisscrossing the country. It’s what those who regard themselves as prospective candidates are doing. But consciously the PEC has taken a view that we refrain from making any pronouncements on the matter,” Masualle said.