All not quiet on Jo'burg's eastern front

Under pressure: Mzwandile Masina, seen comforting relatives of ANC members who died in a tragic bus crash, is now at the centre of a row over the Ekurhuleni party lists. (Veli Nhlapho/Sowetan/Gallo)

Under pressure: Mzwandile Masina, seen comforting relatives of ANC members who died in a tragic bus crash, is now at the centre of a row over the Ekurhuleni party lists. (Veli Nhlapho/Sowetan/Gallo)

Controversy continues to dog Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Mzwandile Masina, who now stands accused of fraudulently landing the top spot on Ekurhuleni’s ANC nominations list for the local government elections.

Last month he was lambasted for travelling in a private jet from the ANC’s manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth; other party members travelled by bus. (Eleven died when the bus crashed near Kroonstad.)

In an email, four ANC branch leaders from the area accuse Masina, the party’s Ekurhuleni chairperson, of flouting ANC guidelines by chairing the very meeting at which he was nominated.

  The email, which the Mail & Guardian has, reads: “What is nice about the guidelines of the ANC in these elections is that it tries by all means to remove conflicts and those conflicted. The guidelines state that if you have an interest in the mayor’s position, as soon as that line item comes up for discussion you excuse yourself.”

But, according to the emailed correspondence sent to ANC Gauteng secretary Hope Papo, Masina continued to chair the meeting until just before voting began. Only then did he hand over the chairing of the meeting to his deputy and leave.

The email says the first person to have been nominated for the top position on the list was Masina. Thembinkosi Nciza, the ANC’s regional treasurer and Masina’s longtime friend, and Nomadlozi Nkosi were also nominated.

“The process followed by the REC [regional executive committee] was fraudulent and not in line with the guidelines on the matter as agreed by the NEC [national executive committee]. Therefore, the process in its entirety must be nullified,” it states.

Asked to respond, Masina referred all questions to the party’s provincial leadership. Regional spokesperson Sonnyboy Masingi said regional executive committees may nominate three preferred mayoral candidates and that Ekurhuleni had followed due process in its nominations.

“All those nominated adequately meet the requirements as set out in the guidelines and are subjected to internal screening processes.

“We request the media to allow internal democratic processes to conclude before making any speculations. At this point, we cannot confirm who has been nominated by the REC as the process is still in progress,” he said.

ANC provincial spokesperson Nkenke Kekana said he would not be drawn into allegations made by nameless individuals about the internal Ekurhuleni list selection process. “Objections, which were lodged by ANC members, were investigated by the [provincial list committee and regional list committees], and determinations … were communicated to complainants,” Kekana said.

“Even though the process has been concluded and all members are expected to be campaigning for an ANC victory in August, the process of engaging [branch executive committees] and those who are still aggrieved will continue in all regions,” he said.

The disgruntled party officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, allege that the region’s candidate list process was also flawed. They claim that at the first party list conference on May 12 it was announced that Masina and the ANC’s deputy regional secretary, Petrus Mhlari, had each received 44 nominations. But, according to their “calculations and what we knew, Masina got 47 nominations and Mhlari had 62”.

“We know these numbers because we as this group have the majority of the branches. To our own dismay, what gets posted is that the regional chairperson has 44 nominations and the regional deputy secretary has 44,” said one of the officials.

“We were told it was a tie, so we asked if we could get proof of this tie because we were not convinced. They couldn’t do that at the conference, so we adjourned and agreed that the committee would produce proof at the next conference.”

A week later a different list was produced, on which at least five of the top 10 names had been changed.

The branch leaders say there were other discrepancies too. In the week preceding the second conference, certain branches were asked to sign their nomination forms but others were not. One branch official says, when he received his form, it had already been signed.

“We were shocked to hear this because how could the committee give us a list where some branches had not signed their forms? And then a week later, without verifying with all the branches, they give us another list. This is not how we are supposed to do this.”

Kekana said the members questioning the process are not behaving like loyal and disciplined ANC members, who should accept final decisions made by the higher structures of the organisation.

“A mentality which says: ‘If I am not nominated as a candidate, no one will be nominated’ is wrong and not in line with the values of the organisation,” he said.

 
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession. Read more from Athandiwe Saba

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