Fractious ANC Ekurhuleni conference reveals extent of divisions in the region - Makhura

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Makhura addressed residents outside a local Methodist church and another group outside Atamelang Primary School.
Makhura addressed residents outside a local Methodist church and another group outside Atamelang Primary School.
@GautengANC, Twitter
  • The ANC in Ekurhuleni had a delayed start to its regional conference on Saturday. 
  • Outstanding disputes and delayed registration of delegates resulted in the conference starting a day late.
  • David Makhura described the conference as a "war zone".

Gauteng ANC chairperson David Makhura ripped into the ANC in Ekurhuleni, describing the region as divided and holding a conference that resembled a "war zone". 

Makhura gave an opening address on Saturday, a day after the ANC conference in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, was scheduled to begin. 

Allegations of branch exclusions marred the conference. There were also delays in registering delegates.

When Makhura took to the podium, several seats in the conference venue were empty as many delegates had yet to register on time. 

News24 understands that five to nine branches have filed disputes about being excluded from the conference. 

In Fourways, Johannesburg, the event venue was littered with the high-security presence of armed men, wearing black clothing, to shield the gates into the Indaba Hotel. 

Makhura said it showed the concerning state of the divisions in the region. 

"The people carrying firearms, I saw the type of guns that I have only seen in conflict zones elsewhere, including in Ukraine. We do not want the use, by all means necessary, to discredit the ANC. Some people were naked in protest, which is completely unnecessary in the ANC. 

"Those in leadership, it is also not acceptable to abuse the process to want to exclude those who may not be supporting you. It has been a complete shame what has characterised this conference," Makhura said. 

The conference will be contested by current Ekurhuleni chairperson and former mayor Mzwandile Masina, who is seeking a third term. 

Other members of his leadership, including regional secretary Thembinkosi "TK" Nciza, is also up for re-election. 

The focus of the factional divide has pitted Masina's supporters against those of Doctor Xhakaza, the regional treasurer, who is contesting for the chairperson position. 

Xhakaza's faction believes the branches, which had not qualified, were excluded to their disadvantage. 

READ | Masina seeks third term as ANC Ekurhuleni leader at disputed conference

Makhura spoke to the conference's factional divide, saying the members were preoccupied with leadership roles and, as such, the ANC had lost power in Ekurhuleni. 

The ANC has been on a steady electoral decline for several years in Gauteng and its municipalities. 

In 2019, the province managed to remain in charge of the province. In the 2021 local government elections, the picture was different as the party lost control of three metros - Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. 

Makhura described the minority coalition government in Ekurhuleni, led by the DA, as weak. 

He said that, despite the coalition's weakness, he was doubtful the ANC in the region was strong and focused enough to regain lost ground, especially as it squabbled about leadership roles. 

"We have never seen this level of conflict. It is like 'wafa wafa', the level of degeneration," he said.

READ | Complaints over disputes mark start of Ekurhuleni ANC conference

In a line, possibly pre-empting the ANC's loss of power in Gauteng in 2024, Makhura called on party members to take up opposition benches to fight for democracy. 

Makhura, who is stepping down as Gauteng ANC chairperson this year, said no one was entitled to a leadership position.

Makhura said:

There are those who believe that there is no need to be in the ANC, when the ANC is out of power. Those people must leave now. We want those who will remain, even when the ANC is not in control. Who said we are entitled to positions?

Makhura referred the party's obsession with political office and which position a member would occupy in the government. It spoke to similar concerns described in the ANC's policy documents, ahead of its conference in July. 

Makhura said the party should see the election of its leaders as serving in any role and not just in a government position. 

"The conflation of state power and leadership elections in the organisation blurs our eyes. We cannot see properly. When we have to think of you, comrade Tshabalala, we are thinking could he be a mayor? Or MMC. We do not think Tshabalala could be a good deputy chair. We must think of the functioning of the organisation and raise the quality of the cadreship," Makhura said. 

The Ekurhuleni conference was expected to wrap up on Sunday.

Still, crucial sections of the programme, such as the adoption of credentials, the nomination of leaders, and the voting, had yet to occur on Saturday night. 

The region is expected to work through the night to conclude the conference on Sunday. 

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