Battle lines are being drawn between newly elected ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane and the province’s premier, Phumulo Masualle, amid two centres of power.
This as the Masualle-led government and former provincial executive committee (PEC) members loyal to him refuse to recognise Mabuyane or attend ANC meetings in the province which are presided over by him.
At a special provincial general council (PGC) held at the East London City Hall on Thursday, a frustrated Mabuyane told more than 500 delegates gathered there: “We are not going to allow this to continue.”
Meanwhile, regional leaders sympathetic to Masualle and the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma camp told City Press they planned to challenge the legitimacy of the Mabuyane-led PEC at the upcoming 54th national elective conference, which will be held on December 16 in Nasrec.
The regional secretary of Amathole, Teris Ntuthu, and his Joe Gqabi counterpart, Mfundo Bongela, spoke to City Press on the sidelines of the PGC, saying they did not recognise the Mabuyane-led PEC.
This despite a call by the ANC’s national working committee (NWC), and one communicated by President Jacob Zuma, to recognise the structure as only the NEC could say it was illegitimate.
There has been no love lost between Masualle and Mabuyane since the violent elective conference that took place at the end of September, where supporters of the two leaders fought one another using chairs.
Masualle and his supporters abandoned the conference at the East London International Convention Centre after violence broke out, while the Mabuyane group went on to elect him as chairperson, replacing Masualle.
Masualle and a number of MECs believed to be loyal to him have not attended a single meeting organised by the Mabuyane-led ANC leadership collective since then.
Instead, a number of disputes and court challenges have been mounted against this leadership.
City Press also understands that Mabuyane’s backers were irked that Masualle did not recognise the provincial chair during the OR Tambo centenary celebrations that took place in Nkantolo, in Mbizana municipality, in October – even though he was sitting in the front rows of the VIP section.
During the PGC on Thursday – which saw delegates from the warring factions come together for the first time since the violent conference in September – Mabuyane did not mince his words. But he fell short of calling those in leadership of the provincial government ill-disciplined.
He said there was only one PEC which must lead all ANC members in the Eastern Cape. “We’ve been having lots of provincial meetings ... There are comrades who continue to deliberately not attend the PEC meetings because they go public and say they do not accept the PEC, even against the advice they were given by the NWC officials here,” he said.
“We have a problem with comrades who are leading the state – senior comrades of our movement who are always missing in action. We continue engaging on policy discussions, but key people who are deployed by the ANC are not showing an interest, or they prioritise other things.
“This cannot be allowed. It is going to be stopped.”