ANC fac­tions clash at Rusten­burg meet­ing

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­

Po­lice were on high alert in the Rusten­burg Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity this week as op­pos­ing ANC fac­tions used a sched­uled coun­cil meet­ing to in­tim­i­date each other.

Out­side coun­cil of­fices on the busy cor­ner of Nelson Man­dela Drive and Bey­ers Naude Street on Mon­day, the scenes mir­rored those when po­lice stopped ANC mem­bers and sup­port­ers from pelt­ing each other with stones and bot­tles less than three weeks ago.

Such in­ci­dents are be­com­ing more com­mon across the coun­try as mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions draw closer. There have been killings, fist fights, ar­son and even pub­licly bared but­tocks in the cap­i­tal city.

City Press has learnt from ANC ac­tivists from both fac­tions that in Rusten­burg, ev­ery­one’s po­si­tion is on the line, in­clud­ing that of the mayor, speaker, chief whip, coun­cil­lors, mu­nic­i­pal man­ager and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. There were mur­murs dur­ing Mon­day’s coun­cil meet­ing of a vote of no con­fi­dence against the mayor, and the chief whip has been ac­cused of buy­ing a pri­vate farm with pub­lic funds.

The mu­nic­i­pal man­ager has been sus­pended, but a group of dis­sent­ing ANC coun­cil­lors are fight­ing for his re­in­state­ment. In­stead, his de­fend­ers want the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer to go.

There are two com­pet­ing elec­tion-or­gan­is­ing teams. The sec­re­tary of the ANC in Bo­janala re­gion, which in­cludes Rusten­burg, has been threat­ened with sus­pen­sion. The may­oral com­mit­tee has been reshuf­fled, and the coun­cil speaker was fired and then re­in­stated on the same day.

For years, the ANC in North West has been di­vided by fac­tion­al­ism. But like else­where in the coun­try, and as ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe puts it, it be­comes a mat­ter of “life and death” when the elec­tion of party lead­ers or govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives are at stake.

A sup­porter of the dom­i­nant fac­tion, aligned to pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Supra Mahumapelo, said the prov­ince wanted to clean up the mess in Bo­janala and Rusten­burg, but “their hands are tied by Luthuli House”.

Mahumapelo has dis­banded the other three district mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince – Ngaka Modiri Molema in Mafikeng, Ruth Se­go­motsi Mom­pati in Vry­burg, and Ken­neth Kaunda in the Klerks­dorp and Potchef­stroom area.

Only Bo­janala re­mains stand­ing, de­spite threats that a huge con­tin­gent of the re­gional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee would soon re­sign en masse to en­sure that the re­gional lead­ers were dis­banded and that Mahumapelo’s pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive took over all pro­cesses, in­clud­ing the se­lec­tion of coun­cil­lor can­di­dates.

“The plan is for the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to re­sign be­fore their term ends in Septem­ber,” said a lo­cal ANC branch leader who is sym­pa­thetic to re­gional lead­ers. How­ever, he said: “Those who re­sign could be charged for a lack of dis­ci­pline by the na­tional of­fice if they re­signed in a bloc be­cause it will look fac­tional.”

Two pro­cesses of se­lect­ing coun­cil­lors are un­der way in Bo­janala. The first is the se­lec­tion of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil­lors, who will then be de­cided on by the pro­vin­cial list com­mit­tee.

The se­lec­tion of ward coun­cil­lors is a sep­a­rate process in­volv­ing com­mu­nity meet­ings to elect the most pop­u­lar can­di­date. A for­mer North West ANC ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber op­posed to Mahumapelo said the fight was about who would be­come coun­cil­lors, but also, more im­por­tantly, who would take over the may­oral post and, with it, the political man­age­ment of pub­lic re­sources in Rusten­burg.

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