Free State ANC to rerun PEC election this weekend

The ANC in the Free State will hold the long-awaited rerun of its provincial conference in Welkom this weekend, spokesperson Oupa Khoabane has said.

But it would go ahead without the official participation of Mpho Ramakatsa, one of six ANC members who challenged the legality of the previous Free State leadership.

The group succeeded in getting the Constitutional Court to declare the provincial executive committee’s (PEC) decisions and resolutions unlawful and invalid, because the ANC had not addressed certain irregularities about the Free State elective conference. As a result, the PEC was dissolved.

“(Ramakatsa’s) branch is not part of the conference, because it did not have a meeting to prepare for the conference,” said Khoabane today.

Ramakatsa, who is the spokesperson for the group, responded that he and the others would decide later what to do with regards to the conference.

The PEC declared invalid by the court selected President Jacob Zuma for a second term as party president, with no votes for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Ramakatsa and his supporters had lobbied for the nomination of Motlanthe over Zuma.

Motlanthe failed to get enough votes for the party presidency at the national conference and Zuma was re-elected. Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was elected deputy president.

Ramakatsa and his group claimed the elections at branch level, where it was decided who would go to the provincial conference to vote for the PEC, were irregular.

The court was told of allegations that “parallel branches” had been formed, of gangsterism, and criminal activities to fund the parallel branches.

They contended that bona fide, properly elected delegates had been excluded, and that party leadership had failed to allow branches an opportunity to query the findings of a membership audit.

The court ruled that this was unconstitutional and that the PEC – at that time headed by Zuma supporter Ace Magashule – and its decisions were unlawful.

Besides representation at such conferences, the PEC, through its branches, also represents constituents on other matters.

The party has been preparing for a rerun of the conference through a task team, and was expected to start registering delegates at the Phakisa Raceway on Friday. The conference takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

More than half of the task team are members of the PEC that was disbanded by the party leadership, and includes Magashule as national executive committee (NEC) representative.

Ramakatsa said earlier that his group had not been consulted about the members of the task team.

“This was not in the interests of the party,” he said, and added that the issue had two sides and the one side had been left out.

The conference will include an organisational report, a political report by the convenor, and political input by the NEC.

“We are ready for it,” said Khoabane.

He said the provincial task team’s job was to heal divisions.

At the January provincial general council, the ANC allowed people with concerns, like the Ramakatsa group, to meet NEC committee members and voice these concerns.

“The committee that will be elected will also be mandated to heal the rift,” said Khoabane.

The conference had been delayed several times to allow branches to get their affairs in order.

He said 90% of the voting delegates had to come from branches, and the rest from other structures, such as the provincial youth league, the women’s league, and the veterans’ league.

The rules did not allow for people to attend in their individual capacity, so delegates had to be part of a branch.

This was how Ramakatsa was excluded.

To be able to attend the conference, the branch should have a meeting to prepare.

More than 50% of the branch should attend a branch general meeting to make nominations, otherwise the branch was automatically disqualified.

“That is why we postponed, because branches were failing (with their) meetings. We were trying to give them ample time to make their quorum,” said Khoabane.

He said there had not been disruptions at meetings since the pre-Mangaung events, but that certain branches just could not meet the quorum.

Magashule would be at the conference.

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