Cape ANC battles over legislature
The "new guard" has been pitched against the "old regime", insiders say.
The province is divided into what has become known as the old regime – ANC leaders who are no longer in the party's provincial structure but who still hold seats in the provincial legislature – and the new guard in the provincial office.
This week, ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile told journalists the provincial executive committee had decided on the evaluations "to effect alignment of programmes, particularly to ensure the strengthening of opposition capacity, as in the legislature".
But ANC sources said the assessments were a smokescreen to get rid of the supporters of former party boss Mcebisi Skwatsha, who in 2011 lost the election to Marius Fransman, the deputy minister of international relations and co-operation.
Skwatsha and his close associates still occupy seats in the provincial legislature, but none of the top five provincial executive committee officials are provincial legislators. ANC sources said this created two centres of power.
A provincial executive committee member, who was not authorised to comment officially, said it had decided that provincial leaders needed to have a presence in the legislature. The source said the provincial legislature caucus members were "still pursuing their old agenda".
"The person who must get back to the legislature is the ANC chairperson. We need the provincial chairperson to lead," said the committee member.
ANC sources said the provincial youth league, which was instrumental in electing Fransman under controversial circumstances, approached him in the build-up to the provincial general council in June and asked him to leave his national position to lead the opposition in the legislature.
"If he wants to be the premier candidate in 2014, he must prove himself now and provide leadership in the province and in the legislature," said the committee member. He added that Fransman was not keen on the idea.
Provincial ANC leaders such as Mjongile and treasurer Fezile Calana are opposed to another term for President Jacob Zuma and support the ANC Youth League's call for a change of leadership.
The provincial executive committee member added that Fransman had fallen out of favour with it because of his support for Zuma, and redeploying him from the National Assembly in Parliament to the opposition benches of the provincial legislature was also an attempt to frustrate him.
After years of conflict that destroyed the party locally and led to its loss of provincial power, the ANC removed Ebrahim Rasool as premier in 2008 before dissolving a Skwatsha-led provincial executive committee in 2009. At a subsequent conference, Fransman was elected provincial chairperson in a controversial election that saw Skwatsha and his supporters walk out of the venue.
A source who attended last week's provincial executive committee meeting said it had been decided that "up to three" committee members would be deployed to the legislature, including local businessperson Calana. He would neither confirm nor deny these rumours.
Mjongile told journalists that the assessments would examine the effect the deployed person had in their portfolio: "We'll assess them according to their responsibilities. Like in any organisation, if you are not effective you must have an explanation, and if there is no justifiable reason we'll have to go down the list. That's why we have lists of MPLs and reserve lists of councillors."
Fransman is in the Seychelles and could not be reached for comment.