THE STATE OF ANC POLITICS
CITY PRESS ASSESSED THE STATE OF THE ANC IN THE PROVINCES AS THEY HEAD TO THE POLICY CONFERENCE THIS WEEK
bitterly divided KwaZulu-Natal ANC will head to conference without the show of force which has historically been associated with the province. Warring factions, who have thrown their weight behind current chairperson Sihle Zikalala and former premier Senzo Mchunu, could contradict each other on policy positions and which candidate should succeed party president Jacob Zuma at the elective conference later this year.
Mediation between the two sides has proved fruitless since the provincial conference, which saw Mchunu ousted by Zikalala, who is said to enjoy close relations with Zuma. Following that conference, some of Mchunu’s supporters headed to court in an attempt to have the outcomes nullified.
The matter has been set down to be heard by a full bench of judges in August, three months before the December national elective conference. So dire are the relations between the two sides that some branches, who have aligned themselves with Mchunu, have bypassed provincial structures and taken complaints of gatekeeping to the office of secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, telling him that they do not trust the provincial executive committee (PEC) to deal with their grievances objectively.
Alliance partners Cosatu and SACP are also believed to back Mchunu. Supporters of the anti-PEC group also include disgruntled supporters of former eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo, who is also the chairperson of the SACP in KZN.
At an ANC provincial general council in Free State last weekend Premier Ace Magashule read the riot act to dissidents, warning that he was ready to go head to head with those who dared to challenge his authority.
Among the key themes in Magashule’s speech was that he had never at any point lobbied for himself to be elected into a leadership position in the ANC.
Despite the brave face, Magashule has been rattled. As the longest-serving provincial chairperson of the ANC, he is under pressure to hand over the baton.
Supporters of his number two in the provincial ANC leadership, deputy chairperson Thabo Manyoni, have made it known they want their man to take over the throne. This has been mentioned among the key reasons Manyoni quit as an MP last month and went back to Free State.
A few years ago it had been a forgone conclusion that Manyoni would be the natural successor but it seems the tables have turned. According to high-ranking ANC insiders in the province, Magashule has now set his sights on anointing Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli as his preferred successor. Mlamleli took over the running of the city from Manyoni in the last local government elections.
The Eastern Cape ANC’s diminishing influence in the national politics of Africa’s oldest liberation movement was recently highlighted by the announcements of the ANC Youth League and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association of their preferred candidates to lead the party in December.
Besides being the second-biggest ANC province after KwaZulu-Natal, the province did not have a single leader from the Eastern Cape represented in the list of the top party officials distributed by the two organisations.
In the current group of top six officials, two are from the Eastern Cape – Gwede Mantashe as secretary-general and Baleka Mbete, the national chairperson.
But the deep divisions within the provincial structure – which prides itself as the home of legends owing to having produced some of the most celebrated leaders of the ANC, such as Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, Chris Hani and Walter Sisulu, to name a few – are further worsened by the upcoming provincial elective conference.
The premier and chairperson of the ANC in the province, Phumulo Masualle, and his provincial secretary, Oscar Mabuyane, are frontrunners for the position of chairperson.
Masualle’s campaign, which has been dubbed Simanxadanxada, has been linked to that of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) while Mabuyane’s campaign, called #OM 17 or Soweto Train is linked to that of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa (CR17).
Mpumalanga ANC is on a drive to increase its membership before the December elective conference in order to have a large number of delegates and a strong voice.
This is because all the structures, regions and leagues in the province agree that Premier David Mabuza should become deputy president.
The province has about 400 branches. The drive aims to ensure that each branch has at least 1 000 members so that the province can send about 5 000 delegates to the conference (a crazy idea considering that about 4 000 delegates attend the gathering) and increase Mabuza’s chances. The audit of membership figures is still to be done, according to provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu.
Mabuza’s chances were boosted when all the province’s four regions – Ehlanzeni, Nkangala, Gert Sibande and Bohlabelo – retained their executives following regional conferences two weeks ago.
The executives have been Mabuza’s staunch supporters and pillar of strength as he prepares to challenge for the deputy presidency. Mpumalanga appears to be the only province speaking in one voice and not ravaged by factions.
It is here where the 2019 election battle will be centred, as opposition parties hope to leverage the discontent on the ground to push the ANC out of power. The ANC lost its majority in two key municipalities (Tshwane and Johannesburg) in the local elections and this has emboldened opposition parties with talk of a possible DA-led coalition government after elections.
ANC membership dropped from 134 909 in 2012 to 87 759, according to figures presented at its last national general council in 2015 and recruiting has been prioritised.
Under the leadership of its chairperson, Paul Mashatile, the province is considered a rebel child in the ANC and, in particular, a thorn in President Jacob Zuma’s side.
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina, as well as the provincial youth league and women’s league, are the exceptions in supporting Zuma.
Masina, described as a “Zuma man”, does not see eye to eye with the leadership under Mashatile and is said to be positioning himself to take the provincial chair and be premier in the near future.
This could disrupt what City Press understands is a succession plan already in place, which would see Premier David Makhura take over as chairperson while Mashatile goes on to become one of the top officials of the ANC if all goes to plan ahead of the December conference.
Masina, who often boasts about having the Ekurhuleni region solidly behind him, got the surprise of his life this week when the same branches that he commands almost passed a motion of no confidence against him.
When the ANC lost the governance of the Western Cape, the party acknowledged the role of factionalism in its self-destruction and vowed to unite and rebuild for a stronger ANC that could win back the control of the Western Cape.
But things have certainly got worse over the past eight years.
Evidence of this is found in a draft report of a task team of the party’s national executive committee which was tasked with investigating the processes followed in selecting councillor candidates in the build-up to last year’s local government elections. The task team recommended an urgent need for development of a programme to intervene on “the decreasing life” of the organisation in the province.
Only this week, the tensions played themselves out in public when the province held its provincial policy conference, which was addressed by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa. The meeting collapsed without the different discussion groups making any presentations. Some ANC public representatives, including councillors and members of the provincial legislature, who support party president Jacob Zuma, attended the event even though they were not accredited as delegates. They charged that the gathering was illegitimate and questioned the credentials of those who attended while singing pro-Zuma songs.
The ANC in Northern Cape jumped through hurdles before it could host its provincial conference to elect new leaders last month. The delay was unusual for a province that has for years been one of the most stable in the ANC. The instability is best reflected in the drop of membership numbers from 39 000 at the ANC national general council two years ago to just about 30 000 at the last count before the provincial conference.
The duty to bring back stability rests with newly elected chairperson Zamani Saul, who has so far shown a degree of sobriety in the face of a push from branch delegates that Premier Sylvia Lucas be fired for defiantly reshuffling the provincial cabinet on the eve of the conference.
Instead the PEC successfully pushed for Lucas to reverse the decision despite allegations that the move was triggered by evidence of corruption implicating at least one MEC who was fired.
The contest between Saul’s and Lucas’ supporters mirrors the dynamics at national level, with Saul linked to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign and Lucas linked to those who want former AU commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over from President Jacob Zuma.
Three of the North West ANC’s four regions, including the biggest in Bojanala in Rustenburg, are under caretaker leaders. The ANC provincial executive led by Premier Supra Mahumapelo dissolved Bojanala last year following a mass resignation of regional executive committee members opposed to former regional secretary Tokyo Mataboge, a chief opponent of Mahumapelo.
Other regions Mahumapelo disbanded include Ngaka Modiri Molema in Mafikeng and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati in Vryburg, leaving only the Dr Kenneth Kaunda region in Klerksdorp with elected leadership.
The prevalence of interim leaders at regional level effectively means substantial power has been centralised at the provincial head office in Mphekwa House in Mafikeng.
Mahumapelo earlier this month fired public works MEC Madoda Sambatha, reigniting open warfare that previously characterised alliance politics in the province. The SACP wants Mahumapelo to reverse the decision.
The biggest threat to Mahumapelo’s legitimacy is from dysfunctional municipalities resulting from ANC infighting.
Infighting among supporters of Cyril Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma are making it difficult for the ANC to convene its regional conferences ahead of the elective December conference. The Vhembe region of the ANC finally convened its conference this weekend, after numerous delays because of disputes by branches, who cried foul regarding the marginalisation of their delegates.
Provincial ANC chairperson Stan Mathabatha supports the Ramaphosa campaign while secretary Knox Seabi is associated with the Dlamini-Zuma campaign.
Seabi’s allies include ANC deputy provincial secretary Makoma Makhurupetja and ANC provincial treasurer Danny Msiza, a former ally of Mathabatha. Mathabatha as a chairperson is only supported by his deputy Jerry Ndou.
In Mopani, the current regional chairperson Charley Sekwati, an ally of Ramaphosa and Mathabatha, will be battling with a Zuma ally Pule Shai. This region has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following gatekeeping allegations. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantanshe confirmed that 14 out of 21 branches that raised disputes would convene branch general meetings.
GAMECHANGERS (From left) David Makhura, ANC president Jacob Zuma, Gauteng chair Paul Mashatile and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa wave to the supporters as they enter FNB Stadium at last year’s ANC Gauteng manifesto launch