ANC factions clash at Rustenburg meeting
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.