No chance of unity at national conference
The ANC now appears to be completely incapable of resolving its internal differences. On Monday, a delegation of Eastern Cape leaders unhappy about the outcome of their provincial congress met party officials at national level to express concern about the way the conference was run.
The conference — a bloody, chair-throwing event — resulted in the election of Oscar Mabuyane as party provincial chairman.
On Thursday, the disgruntled group that won a court action in which the KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference was ruled to be illegal, again approached the high court.
This time it was after the group sought the intervention of the national leadership for a solution to the court judgment, which set aside the election of chairman Sihle Zikalala and his leadership team. The national officials and national executive committee (NEC) took a factional approach — driven by President Jacob Zuma — to allow Zikalala’s provincial executive committee to appeal against the judgment.
This resulted in the other group opposing the appeal and asking the court to enforce its earlier judgment.
In court papers, this group argues that the national conference in December is of importance not just to the party but to the country.
Having an illegal provincial executive committee presiding over nominations in the ANC’s largest province while it is appealing against a judgment could expose the national conference to legal challenge. The court papers include an e-mail from ANC NEC member Enoch Godongwana, stating: “I have attended both NEC meetings that dealt with the KZN court ruling on the status of the provincial conference and its decisions.
“The court decided that both the conference and its decision are null and void. None of the meetings above agreed to appeal the decision.
“We are informed by the media that the former provincial secretary of KZN, comrade Super Zuma, says that the NEC agreed to appeal [against] the decision of the court. Comrade Super Zuma is not empowered to speak on behalf of the NEC.”
Godongwana’s e-mail implies that the Zikalala-aligned provincial committee defied the NEC by appealing against the judgment. And it did that because Zuma himself sanctioned the appeal.
It is strange that no one on the NEC thought to point out that Zuma was conflicted on the matter — because he has openly endorsed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his preferred successor.
How the ANC officials deal with the Eastern Cape matter may again prove that the ANC is hopelessly adrift as Zuma rides roughshod over the party to install Dlamini-Zuma.
In the Eastern Cape matter, some of the disgruntled members back Dlamini-Zuma as president, while the leadership elected under Mabuyane backs Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
A leader who was part of the meeting with the national officials said it was odd that the disgruntled group did not lodge an appeal with the officials on the outcome of the conference.
Instead, they “raised concern” and appeared to want the officials to lodge an appeal that could see the conference outcome nullified.
The officials took time to hear their side of events and then questioned Mabuyane on the convening of the conference. Now Mabuyane’s opponents say they are certain the officials will ensure that the conference is nullified.
The newly elected leadership, however, cannot understand how a move to nullify the conference can be justified. They say it was clear from the outset that the losing group, aware of its numerical disadvantage, sought to collapse the conference to prevent Mabuyane’s election.
They are now attempting to use their factional advantage to have the outcome of the conference nullified — a move Zuma and his backers would support. The top leadership’s handling of the disagreements before the national conference shows there is little hope for a unity initiative to succeed. Factions are poles apart — as are the top candidates.
Dlamini-Zuma has inherited the Zuma faction’s infrastructure in terms of its numbers, but also its weaknesses. This has resulted in her support falling, say insiders. Ramaphosa is being framed as the man to restore the party to its former glory, supported by sections of provinces across the country.
When it comes down to the wire in December, will the leadership and conference steering committee be able to set aside their factional differences and preferences? Given their conduct in the handling of provincial disputes the answer is no. And the aftermath will be unchartered and dangerous waters for SA.
WILL THE LEADERSHIP AND CONFERENCE STEERING COMMITTEE BE ABLE TO SET ASIDE THEIR FACTIONAL DIFFERENCES?