Mabuza warns divided North West ANC people question its ability to provide leadership

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ANC deputy president David Mabuza.
ANC deputy president David Mabuza.
  • ANC deputy president David Mabuza has warned that South Africans were growing weary of the ANC’s infighting. 
  • He stressed that, as the party's deeply divided North West province met to elect new leadership, it was a priority that it emerged with leaders concerned about the people and not party politics. 
  • Delays and court challenges have overshadowed the ongoing North West conference. 

In a candid opening address at the ANC's ninth North West elective conference on Saturday evening, ANC deputy president David Mabuza warned that South Africans were losing patience with the ANC. 

“It is a known fact that we are facing challenges. We meet at a time when the people we profess to lead are now starting to question themselves, and they doubt our ability to provide leadership to the complex societal challenges of the moment,” said Mabuza. 

He said that while the ANC has faced challenges, none had been as divisive as those the party was dealing with at this point. 

“We have faced challenges but not the challenges that are so serious to this extent that it’s even threatening the very own existence of the organisation. 

“Never have our differences of opinion gone beyond the ideological conception of what the character and the soul of the ANC should look like. 

ANALYSIS | ANC policy conference: Taking the party's temperature

“Never have our internal organisational fractures, leadership preferences, tactical differences posed such an existential threat to the life and legacy of such a glorious movement,” said Mabuza. 

He warned the organisation seemed to be moving away from “its revolutionary duty, that of serving our people and that of building a united South Africa” and was “straying towards inward focus caused by factional infighting that is disruptive for a movement like the ANC.” 

The deputy president was warning the ANC in the North West that has had to postpone its elective conference more than twice, citing unresolved disputes as the reason for the postponements. 

But he thanked delegates gathered at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, saying they had displayed great camaraderie in ensuring the conference eventually went ahead. 

“As the NEC, we want to thank everyone from branch, regional and provincial levels for the maturity you have displaced to ensure this conference takes place,” he said. 

Severe delays had plagued the start of the conference, as the national dispute resolution committee had to resolve at least 54 outstanding branch disputes. 

Having attended to the disputes, further delays were caused by a legal challenge lodged by a disgruntled member, Tshepo Bosman, who argued that the Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) was unconstitutional because of its term of office having ended. 

Bosman's urgent interdict was granted, limiting the IPC’s participation. 

Despite the interdict being granted, the conference still forged ahead. However, yet another court challenge hung over the conference. Following Friday’s judgment, speculation was rife that former ANC North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, who wants to make a return to his former position, would be approaching the courts on Saturday seeking to interdict the conference from sitting. 

Insiders say Mahumapelo believed there was not enough time afforded to aggrieved branches to reconvene their general meetings following the resolution of disputes by the national dispute resolution committee. 

Mahumapelo could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts to reach him.

AS IT HAPPENED | 'The ANC is unstoppable', says Ramaphosa in closing party conference

Chairperson of the ANC national executive committee deployees in the North West Obed Bapela said was aware of the looming interdict to stop the entire conference. 

“The new interdict, yes, we have heard about it yesterday [on Friday], but we have not yet been served with the court papers and have yet to sign them. We will worry about this when the applicants get a court date,” said Bapela. 

Despite the numerous challenges, Mabuza warned it was time for delegates to prioritise unity and not entrenching further divisions.

“Today is the day we should come out with a clear vision, fresh political ideas, and a deep commitment to rebuild the province. Our focus should be on creating stability in political and administrative leadership. 

“If there is no stability in the province, those who suffer the most are the people, for the ANC government would be unable to respond and deliver on its aspirations for better services and an improved quality of life, as first promised in our 1994 election manifesto,” said Mabuza. 

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