ANC putting out fires
TROUBLE-SHOOTING: UNRULY E CAPE CONFERENCE, BRANCH DISPUTES
Ruling party in race against time with national conference looming.
The ANC has initiated a two-pronged fire-fighting process as it prepares to hold a “successful” national conference in December, with party national executives despatched to put things right before the crucial elective gathering.
The party has appointed a high-level appeal panel, led by former KwaZulu-Natal premier and ex-minister of transport Sbu Ndebele, to investigate the controversial ANC Eastern Cape conference at which violence broke out and delegates exchanged blows and hurled chairs at one another last month.
Separately, the NEC despatched dispute resolution teams that must work at breakneck speed to try and resolve numerous disputes emanating from the nomination process by branches.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the Eastern Cape investigation did not mean the new provincial executive committee elected at the conference had been removed. The PEC would remain until the panel has finished its probe and presented its report to the NEC, which would decide on a course of action, according to the panel’s recommendation.
The ANC was forced into a fire-fighting exercise after a group led by premier and provincial chairperson Phumulo Masualle challenged the conference election results in court. Masualle was beaten by former secretary Oscar Mabuyane for the crucial provincial chairperson position. The old PEC complained to the NEC, which changed it into an appeal.
Mantashe said the NEC, which sat at the weekend and on Monday, heard various reports about what transpired at the conference, held in East London in October.
“Serious allegations were also made of a premeditated plan to collapse the conference. The NEC is unequivocal on the need to ensure that all incidents that took place are investigated expeditiously,” Mantashe said. This is not the only crisis that the ruling party is grappling with as it prepares for its 54th national conference, to be held in Johannesburg next month.
It has been forced to despatch nine dispute resolution task teams to the province to handle complaints about branch general meetings and the nomination process.
While 5 240 voting delegates – comprising branch members, the party sectoral leagues and representatives from higher structures – have been announced, only 70% of branches had convened their branch general meetings.
Several provinces are still lagging behind with their branch meetings. The culprits are KwaZulu-Natal, where 40% have been held, North West (54.3%) and Eastern Cape (56%). Provinces that are far ahead are Mpumalanga (95.7%), Northern Cape (94%) and Free State (87.6%), Gauteng (76%) and Limpopo (73.8%), while the rest are in their 50s and 60s in terms of completion percentages.
Mantashe was adamant that the deadline of today would not be extended, but the NEC has decided to offer mercy to the outstanding branches to organise their meetings by this weekend – or be left out.
He said the grace period until Sunday was due to the fact that some branches experienced problems in holding meetings during the week. This was also to allow sufficient time to consider any dispute appeals lodged.
Mantashe said dispute teams would submit a report to the national leadership, which would decide on the fate of the Eastern Cape conference. –