Hundreds of angry ANC members from six provinces have threatened to boycott this year’s local government elections as the contest for posts in the party hots up.
More than 60 ANC branches out of a total of 1 807 in six provinces – Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, North West and Eastern Cape – have lodged complaints with Luthuli House, the ANC’s head office in central Johannesburg, or their provincial party offices, bemoaning the manner in which the ruling party selects prospective councillors.
Most members complain that candidates preferred by the community are excluded in favour of those linked to certain powerful individuals in the party.
The move, if carried out, could prove disastrous for the party.
Late last year, ANC leader Gwede Mantashe said the party wanted communities to choose candidates so it could get as much support as possible during the upcoming municipal polls, planned to take place on May 18.
The ANC will finalise its list of candidates this week and present them to the country at a rally next Sunday. The names have to be sent to the Independent Electoral Commission before March 25.
In Mpumalanga, more than 20 ANC branches have complained that candidates close to Premier David Mabuza were selected in three regions: Gert Sibande, Nkangala and Ehlanzeni.
Gert Sibande is where residents of Wesselton, near Ermelo, embarked on violent protests this week.
In Nkomazi, fed-up ANC members have started a Facebook account called “Mpumalanga ANC” which targets Mabuza and his backers, particularly the Ehlanzeni regional executive committee (REC) member Ngrayi Ngwenya.
The account has 350 members.
Mantashe has referred the complaints to ANC provincial secretary Lucky Ndinisa.
Mpumalanga ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane could not say how many complaints had been lodged with the province.
“There are challenges, it is true. We are handling a number of complaints, and branches have complained through the region, the province and nationally,” he said.
A senior ANC Western Cape leader, like Mbenyane, confirmed that the party had received complaints but could not give a tally.
In KwaZulu-Natal some ANC members in ward 7, in Gcilima village on the lower South Coast, warned of an uprising if the ruling party decided not to install the community’s preferred candidate, S’the Lushaba.
In Gauteng, the party’s Ekurhuleni, Midvaal and Tshwane regions have also complained.
On Friday night a man was killed in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, when ANC members clashed over the list of prospective councillors.
Police spokesperson Captain Thomas Mufamadi yesterday confirmed the murder, but declined to provide further details.
This week several ANC branches from Tshwane handed Luthuli House a memorandum of grievances in which they demanded that ANC national executive committee members intervene and disband the Tshwane REC.
“We would like to send a message to Mantashe not to undermine the basic unit (branches) of the ANC, because we are not voting cows. We deployed him to serve our organisation,” a senior ANC member in Tshwane said.
ANC Gauteng spokesperson Dumisa Ntuli said they would not disband the Tshwane region.
“Our view is that those who are protesting have poorly understood the selection guidelines and others were deceived by the cadres who were eliminated in the selection process,” he said.
A few branches from Hammans- kraal and Mabopane in North West joined the Tshwane delegation that travelled to Luthuli House.
In Eastern Cape, about 150 ANC members from Ngqushwa and Mnquma stormed the party’s provincial office this week, demanding that secretary Oscar Mabuyane listen to their grievances. Mabuyane was assaulted.
An ANC leader said the party’s leadership was divided on how to deal with the incident.