How to disrupt an ANC conference

Seven ANC conferences will take place in the next two months—and it’s a safe bet that many will be marked by fierce wrangling, disruption and what the ANC calls “un-ANC” behaviour.

This is how you do it: terminate the membership of those who are going to vote against your candidate, or allow them to register and participate as delegates, but have their names suddenly disappear from the voters’ roll.

Or you can start much earlier in the process. You can do this by dispensing with local branch general meetings where conference dele­gates are elected.
You then choose the delegates you like from a branch, go to their homes to get them to sign an attendance register as if they had attended a meeting, and then attach fictional meeting minutes to the “attendance register”.

That way you have the delegates you want without the painful process of a long discussion and debate.

Sounds a little too easy? Well, that is exactly how the North West conference of the ANC Women’s League, the national conference of the ANC Youth League and the North West ANC’s provincial conference were disrupted during the past three months.

Delegates spent three days at the women’s league conference in Hoedspruit last weekend but the affair never got going because of a dispute over unregistered delegates.

A senior women’s league leader involved in the preparation told the Mail & Guardian that all branch meetings had been held and all the logistics were in order, but that “personalities” had sabotaged the conference.

She said it appeared that the “personalities”, who were vying for leadership positions, stalled matters on realising that the balance of forces did not favour them. The main sticking point was delegates who came from the Carletonville/Potchefstroom area, who found that other people had arrived days before them and taken their name tags.

The battle for chair of the women’s league in the North West was between incumbent Edna Molewa and Southern District mayor Pinkie Moloi.

Molewa, who has been voted off the national and provincial executive committees, was seen in tears on Sunday. The conference, attended by league president Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was then postponed sine die.

The youth league conference happened in Mangaung two months ago, but there is still bitter wrangling about its current leadership after more than 200 delegates could not find their names on the voting roll—despite being accredited.

Delegates then threw bottles at each other, engaged in fisticuffs, booed speakers and refused to accept the election results.

Delegates sympathetic to Saki Mofokeng, who lost out to Julius Malema for the presidency, believe the last-minute disenfranchisement of delegates influenced the outcome. The conference will be completed next week in Johannesburg.

The disappearance of delegates’ names and other data from voters’ rolls is also apparently rife at regional ANC conferences.

Last month the mayor of Mangaung, Gertrude Mothupi, national executive committee member Charlotte Lobe and other senior members of the party in Bloemfontein were told after an audit that their names did not feature on the membership list.

Mangaung is one of the areas embroiled in a fierce battle with the ANC’s Free State leadership under Ace Magashule. The affected members subsequently produced proof that they were members in good standing.

At the youth league conference, delegates’ data on the conference computers was apparently tampered with and the names of delegates duplicated. The other concern was that members of regional committees were wrongly accorded voting status when they were not eligible to vote.

One of the delegates kicked out of the North West ANC conference in Sun City and arrested by police, Kenny Morolong, said he was ousted for pointing out that delegates from 37 branches came from “backyard” branches. Morolong claims no general meetings were held in these branches and provincial leaders hand-picked delegates to the conference. They and regional leaders then went to the homes of the delegates to get them to sign an “attendance register”.

Said Morolong: “I sit in the Mamusa branch in the Bophirtima region and there was no branch general meeting, but there were people purporting to represent us at the provincial conference.

“The reason why there is a huge contingent of police present at our conferences is that our leaders know that they are not acting according to the constitution of the ANC. Thugs are running the party at regional level, and they are eating away at the soul of the movement”.

The North West ANC has denied Morolong’s allegations and threatened to discipline him.

Over the next two months ANC conferences are due in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and of the youth and women’s league. Watch this space ...

Rapule Tabane

Rapule Tabane

Rapule Tabane is the Mail & Guardian's politics editor. He sometimes worries that he is a sports fanatic, but is in fact just crazy about Orlando Pirates. While he used to love reading only fiction, he is now gradually starting to enjoy political biographies. He was a big fan of Barack Obama, but now accepts that even he is only mortal. Read more from Rapule Tabane

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