The ANC’s troubled provinces are expected to come under scrutiny when the party’s national executive committee (NEC) holds a three-day meeting, starting on Friday, in Cape Town.
According to an NEC member, this is where the battle between President Cyril Ramaphosa's faction and those who supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's bid for presidency will be waged once more.
The insider added that those in support of Ramaphosa wanted to give themselves an opportunity to grow his support in provinces that needed to go to congress, where new leadership will be elected.
"The NWC [national working committee] has recommended that all congresses must sit, but the dominant faction, which is linked to the ANC president, is seeking to stop these from happening. KZN is ready, so is the Free State, which was due to... [happen] last week, but had been pushed back because they know they would lose if it went ahead," said the source.
'Festival of chairs'
The NEC is also expected to decide on the Eastern Cape’s provincial executive committee’s fate, after its disastrous "festival of chairs" conference that saw at least eight people injured when delegates threw chairs at each other.
In KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, disgruntled members have rejected the interim structures appointed to lead them to fresh elections after the courts nullified their respective provincial conferences.ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, chairperson Gwede Mantashe, president Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy president David Mabuza and treasurer general Paul Mashatile at the party's national executive committee meeting in Cape Town. (Jan Gerber, News24)
All three provinces are widely expected to miss the May deadline set for all conferences to be completed and new provincial executives to be elected.
Sbu Ndebele, who headed the task team that investigated the Eastern Cape elective conference, is expected to table his report to the NEC. He is said to have recommended that the provincial executive elected at the conference be disbanded.
Some NEC members who saw the report when it was presented at the NWC rejected parts of the report, arguing it was "biased and not factual".
However, some within the ANC are expected to push for the party to reach a "political solution", instead of a total disbandment.
That solution is expected to include current Premier Phumulo Masualle staying in his job, despite a decision by the provincial executive committee to recall him.
Masualle lodged an appeal after the 2017 provincial elective conference elected Oscar Mabuyane to replace him as provincial chairperson.
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is said to have told the Eastern Cape leadership that there was a recommendation that the NEC scrap the report.
The Supreme Court of Appeal is still expected to hear the KwaZulu-Natal ANC executive's appeal against a high court decision that set aside their election, after the court declared their disputed 2015 conference null and void.
Lawrence Dube, who took the party to court and won, told News24 he was disappointed that the appeal had to be postponed because the ANC informed the court at the last minute that their senior counsel was ill.
He however said a new elective conference could not sit, as "gatekeeping" was continuing under the leadership of the interim structure.
Dube said the ANC NEC, which is the party's highest decision making body, should give direction concerning the impasse over the composition of the provincial interim committee - which includes leaders who were elected at the unlawful conference.
"If the ANC wants to take the risk of legal battles, instead of unity, they would allow the conference to sit in abnormal circumstances," Dube said.
Members of the ANC's national executive committee holding its three-day meeting in Cape Town. (Jan Gerber, News24)
However, those who supported Dlamini-Zuma insist that the province is ready to go to elections.
'There is no rationality, there is no credibility'
They accuse those that campaigned for Ramaphosa of delaying the conference, because "they know they would lose".
But Dube said he didn’t expect the provincial conference to sit, as regional conferences had to be held first, and one region was already challenging the outcome of its elective conference.
"How on earth do you allow [those people who are] conflicted to run processes. Does the NEC not think there are other leaders in KZN?
"How do you take people that are conflicted, who were at the forefront of manipulating processes, and put them in the interim structure? There is no rationality, there is no credibility," he said.
In the Free State, disgruntled members rejected Magashule’s decision to expand the interim structure by six people.
Former provincial treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana, who is also expected to contest the chairperson position, earlier told News24 that the provincial task team (PTT) was still not balanced.
Dukwana’s supporters have argued that the PTT should not include former provincial executive committee members who presided over a "flawed" conference.
The elective conference was scheduled for last week, but could not happen. There is no date yet for a new conference.