All eyes on ANC branch nom­i­na­tions

Crunch meet­ings this week­end will give a clearer in­di­ca­tion of how the lead­er­ship cards are stacked

Mail & Guardian - - News - M&G Po­lit­i­cal Desk

It’s “do or die” this week­end when most ANC branches nom­i­nate their can­di­dates for na­tional lead­er­ship po­si­tions. ANC deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are the ap­par­ent fron­trun­ners, with ANC trea­surer Zweli Mkhize and na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber Lindiwe Sisulu be­hind them. The branches’ nom­i­na­tions will be the first real in­di­ca­tion of how much sup­port the can­di­dates have.

But the can­di­dates’ sup­port­ers have ac­cused each other of rig­ging the branch gen­eral meet­ings where the nom­i­na­tions are de­cided and of pre­vent­ing the nom­i­na­tion of can­di­dates from op­pos­ing fac­tions.

The most con­tested nom­i­na­tions are tak­ing place in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, the prov­inces with the most ANC mem­bers.

In KwaZulu-Natal, more than 80% of branches in 11 re­gions are ex­pected to hold their gen­eral meet­ings this week­end, which MPL Jomo Sibiya, one of Ramaphosa’s or­gan­is­ers in the province, de­scribed as “do or die”.

Sibiya said a large num­ber of branches failed to hold their meet­ings last week­end, some be­cause re­gional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­ploy­ees did not turn up on time, so most would take place this week­end. Those that didn’t would hold theirs on Novem­ber 4 and 5.

Sibiya said Nquthu’s ward 5 branch mem­bers waited from 10.30am to 5.30pm but the re­gional de­ployee never ar­rived. “We are con­cerned that the re­gions are do­ing this on pur­pose to frus­trate branches which are not back­ing their choice of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as can­di­date for pres­i­dent,” Sibiya said.

Branches also com­plained that mem­bers who had been part of the mem­ber­ship au­dit and qual­i­fied to par­tic­i­pate had been re­moved from the vot­ers’ rolls, and that other peo­ple who were not on the rolls had been al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate, he said.

There is strong sup­port for Ramaphosa in re­gions such as Inkosi Bham­batha, eMalahleni, Lower South Coast, Abaqu­lusi and Far North, he said.

Sibiya said a ver­i­fied fig­ure for the province showed that Dlamini-Zuma had been nom­i­nated by 58 branches and Ramaphosa by 24. The bulk of Dlamini-Zuma’s sup­port came from eThekwini (34 branches) and Moses Mab­hida (12).

Four­teen branches will meet in Mpumalanga this week­end and, al­though the province is ex­pected to de­liver votes for Dlamini-Zuma, Ramaphosa and Mkhize ap­pear to have se­cured the sup­port of in­flu­en­tial re­gional lead­ers.

Ap­par­ently, most branches in the Ekan­gala and the Bohla­bela re­gions are back­ing Ramaphosa but those in the Eh­lanzeni and Gert Sibande re­gions are ex­pected to back the choice of pro­vin­cial chair­per­son and Pre­mier David Mabuza.

Lag­ging be­hind the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates in the province is for­mer ANC trea­surer Mathews Phosa, whose sup­port­ers claim has made in­roads there. His na­tional or­gan­iser, Ron­nie Malo­mane, said: “Things are tense here. As I say all th­ese things to you, I could be­come a tar­get … but … I can con­fi­dently say that our pres­i­dent [Phosa] is do­ing very well.”

Dis­putes over the con­ven­ing of branch gen­eral meet­ings have scup­pered the process of nom­i­nat­ing na­tional lead­ers in the Eastern Cape.

The party’s pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (PEC) en­dorsed Ramaphosa af­ter its first meet­ing two weeks ago. But re­gional lead­ers from the Joe Gqabi, Nel­son Man­dela Bay and Amath­ole re­gions have de­layed their branch gen­eral meet­ings be­cause of a dis­pute over the pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence. They joined 10 for­mer PEC mem­bers who dis­puted the out­come of the con­fer­ence at which Os­car Mabuyane was elected to re­place Pre­mier Phu­mulo Ma­su­alle as chair­per­son.

NEC mem­bers will visit the province this week­end, when a de­ci­sion on their ap­peal could be taken.

But Eastern Cape sec­re­tary Lu­lama Ngcukaitobi said not all the nom­i­na­tions have been de­layed by the dis­pute.

“There are re­gions that have not sub­mit­ted pro­grammes for [branch gen­eral meet­ings] but in­di­vid­ual branches have sub­mit­ted their pro­gramme. In Amath­ole, there are many branches; the branches are ea­ger to con­tinue. And that ap­plies to Nel­son Man­dela Bay, Joe Gqabi and other re­gions,” Ngcukaitobi said.

In the Free State, ten­sions be­tween pro-Ramaphosa and pro-DlaminiZuma groups re­sulted in vi­o­lence in the Le­jweleputswa re­gion on Sun­day, when a party mem­ber was stabbed.

Most of the Free State’s 291 qual­i­fy­ing branches are ex­pected to meet this week­end. The province’s ANC chair­per­son, Ace Magashule, is a vo­cal Dlamini-Zuma backer and is ex­pected to de­liver most branches to her. But sup­port­ers of Free State deputy chair­per­son Thabo Many­oni be­lieve they could per­suade the branches to back Ramaphosa.

The North­ern Cape’s Francis Baard re­gional sec­re­tary, Web­ster Dich­aba, has been re­ported to na­tional ANC of­fi­cials for al­legedly con­ven­ing branch gen­eral meet­ings with­out the rest of the re­gion’s knowl­edge. ANC pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Thapelo Dithebe said the re­gion was a Dlamini-Zuma strong­hold, with 35 of the 65 branches back­ing her, but Dich­aba sup­ports Ramaphosa’s cam­paign. The Na­maqua and John Taolo Gaet­sewe re­gions are also ex­pected to back Dlamini-Zuma.

The province en­dorsed Ramaphosa im­me­di­ately af­ter its con­fer­ence, at which re­gions sup­port­ing Pre­mier Sylvia Lu­cas walked out af­ter her fac­tion re­fused to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tion. Pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Deshi Ngxanga said most of the branches are nom­i­nat­ing Ramaphosa, in line with their en­dorse­ment.

The West­ern Cape is ex­pected to line up be­hind Ramaphosa and will an­nounce its pre­ferred lead­ers in the second week of Novem­ber, al­though Dlamini-Zuma’s sup­port­ers will fiercely con­test the branch meet­ings.

In Gaut­eng, only 100 of the 470 branches have con­vened meet­ings. Early trends in the Tsh­wane and Jo­han­nes­burg re­gions in­di­cate sup­port for Ramaphosa, and nearly 80% of the branches that have held meet­ings have nom­i­nated him.

Last week, Ramaphosa drew a large crowd in the North West, de­spite pro­vin­cial lead­ers say­ing he cam­paigned in the area with­out their bless­ing.

ANC pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Supra Mahumapelo is ex­pected to de­liver mas­sive sup­port to Dlamini-Zuma, but he faces a re­bel­lion by branches in the Ngaka Modiri Molema and Bo­janala re­gions. Most branch meet­ings in the province are ex­pected to take place this week­end.

The lead­er­ship con­test has in­ten­si­fied in Lim­popo and Dlamini-Zuma has started to make in­roads, chal­leng­ing Ramaphosa’s home-ground ad­van­tage. The threat of her grow­ing pres­ence is be­lieved to have been be­hind Lim­popo Pre­mier Stan Matha­batha’s de­ci­sion to reshuf­fle his Cab­i­net on Wed­nes­day. He is ap­par­ently back­ing Ramaphosa.

For­mer co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance MEC Makoma Makhu­ru­petje, a known Dlamini-Zuma lob­by­ist, was shifted to the trans­port depart­ment, a move some say is de­signed to keep her in­flu­ence over tra­di­tional lead­ers in check. In Septem­ber, Makhu­ru­petje ac­com­pa­nied Dlamini-Zuma on a visit to the large Mopani re­gion, where in­sid­ers said 60% of branches were ex­pected to vote for her.

Ear­lier this month trans­port min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi also flanked Dlamini-Zuma on a visit to the Sekhukhune re­gion, which is Matha­batha’s strong­hold. But Sekhukhune is be­lieved to be back­ing Ramaphosa, as is the Vhembe re­gion.

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