Durban’s two ANCs
Alast-ditch attempt by disaffected ANC branches to halt a rerun of the party’s eThekwini regional conference with the aid of a high court interdict failed yesterday when the judge declined to intervene in the dispute. The application for an interdict by 22 branches aligned to the sitting chairperson, eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo, and ousted provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu was turned down by Judge Mohini Moodley. He ruled that the conference’s credentials committee could deal with the dispute.
The branches, which have also been involved in marches to try to overturn the outcome of the provincial conference, wanted the court to stop it from going ahead until the provincial dispute was resolved. Moodley ruled, however, that the matter was not so urgent that the court needed to intervene.
Umlazi ANC councillor S’thenjwa Nyawose – who organised the campaign to challenge both the outcome of the earlier provincial conference and the opposition to the eThekwini conference – had brought the application on behalf of the branches that argued that the preparation process for the conference was flawed.
They claimed that using the ANC Youth League provincial leadership to convene branch general meetings was unlawful, as ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had ordered the province to stop doing so in October.
The conference has been postponed several times, with one outcome – which favoured Nxumalo – being overturned after challenges to the process, as three branches participated without being audited.
By late yesterday afternoon, the disaffected branches had decided to boycott the conference, saying they could not continue with processes in which branches were “stolen” during branch general meetings, and delegates who were not qualified to attend had been included.
They were also meeting to plan what action to take next, and were planning to march on the conference venue. Nxumalo was nowhere to be seen and branches loyal to him had decided not to participate.
“We are not satisfied with the decision taken by the judge. We believe the presentation by the ANC chairperson [Sihle Zikalala] was inaccurate and the decision made on that basis was flawed,” said Nyawose. “This is not over.” When the conference kicked off five hours after the official 9am starting time, provincial chairperson Zikalala told the gathering some people were starting to view the ANC negatively due to infighting.
“Others have lost hope in us and the organisation as, at times, we have projected a picture of an organisation at war with itself and [one] that has become a vehicle for the enrichment of its leaders,” he said. He added that the provincial leadership took full responsibility for the running of the conference, whose result had been set aside by the national leadership.
“Some of these were our own mistakes. Perhaps it would have been better if we had postponed the first conference. We are dealing with an organisation that has seen a serious lack of unity. That lack of unity has determined how decisions are taken,” he said.
Zikalala said the party needed to look at its divisions, and that the rules needed to be followed closely when running conferences and other ANC activities.
“This conference is taking place after we have experienced an interdict trying to stop it convening for the first time. Their interdict was dismissed with costs,” he said.
“This does not end there. We ... have been given a platform to consider rebuilding the ANC. It is not accepted that people will insult the ANC leadership ... march to the ANC office [and] take the ANC to court,” said Zikalala.
He added that the ANC in the province had been “overshadowed” by factionalism, with two ANCs existing in the province and the region.
“If there is somebody who is not at the conference because of factionalism, we should not be celebrating,” he said. “We have more responsibility because we are in this conference. This ANC needs all of us. We are going to local government elections. Are we going to win elections, divided as we are?” he asked.
In the first public indication that the province would back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or Zweli Mkhize as the next ANC president instead of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Zikalala said the province’s ANC never complained about Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki both coming from the Eastern Cape.
“The leadership of the ANC is not going to be determined by where a person comes from. We will discuss this at the correct time,” he said.
CARRYING ON REGARDLESS
Joe Phaahla, Pule Mabe, Super Zuma, Thami Ngubane and Sihle Zikalala at the ANC provincial conference yesterday