The ANC says its new strategy of involving the community in choosing councillor candidates has increased its popularity among communities, but might have alienated some of its branch leaders who were not nominated as councillors.
This is according to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte who briefed the media on Wednesday about the party’s candidate list process. She said the party had managed to register all its candidates.
The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) gave political parties and independent candidates wanting to contest the elections up to 5pm on Tuesday to register their candidates.
Last month, the party missed the deadline to submit candidate lists in more than 90 municipalities, causing a short-lived crisis. However, following a decision by the Constitutional Court not to postpone the elections to next year and the IEC’s announcement that it had reopened registration for candidates, the party was given a lifeline.
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Duarte said the party had registered 4 000 candidates across the country. Forty-six percent of their ward candidates were women, while there were many women on their proportional representation lists.
She said the drawback of the community meetings was that the preference was for nominating men as candidates, despite the ANC policy of 50/50 gender parity.
“We feel proud about the process we have followed. But we do want to say a lot of work needs to be done. There is an interesting dynamic on the ground where people still want to nominate men, despite ANC principles.”
She added that their candidates were quite diverse, with people with disabilities, people from the LGBTIQ+ communities and popular community leaders who belong to NGOs included. Twenty-five percent of those on the list were young people. “They are very impressive young people, with lots of graduates and postgraduates.”
She confirmed that there were attempts to manipulate lists in some areas, and action would be taken against those responsible.
A problem they encountered from introducing community meetings was that there were branch leaders who felt that they should be the election candidates, regardless of what the community wanted. As a result, there were several disputes lodged with the election committee. “We will take action against those who disregarded community wishes.”
She said that, on the final day, before submitting the names to the IEC, the party had removed the names of people who were found to have criminal records.
“The electoral committee did remove some people, particularly those with criminal records, but this does not include traffic fines. These are for serious crimes such as rape, murder, fraud and corruption. We received a lot of complaints about people with traffic fines; if we removed those people, 90% of the people would not qualify.”
The party was still going to listen to more disputes lodged. “But the only disputes we will entertain are people who can prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were nominated by the community but then removed from the list. We won’t entertain a complaint where a male candidate was taken down the list to make way for a woman candidate; that we won’t accept,” said Duarte.
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In a report presented to the national executive committee of the ANC last week, the party electoral committee, led by veteran Kgalema Motlanthe, identified that the ANC was divided into two factions, the CR17 and radical economic transformation (RET) forces.
In some cases, the one grouping would label the other grouping as an RET force so that they could justify pushing them out. It reported that the factionalism was deep and started from the top; it went down to the branch level and was a factor in disputes of manipulations and transgressions in the selection and election of the candidates around the country.
“During all the various stages of the candidate selection process, the electoral committee and its structures encountered fierce factional tendencies, as we made the following observations: the slate politics and factionalism have been entrenched to epidemic levels within the ANC,” read the report.