/ 16 August 2008

Divisions grip ANC in Northern Cape

Tensions ahead of the African National Congress’s (ANC) provincial conference in the Northern Cape reached a new high on Friday after a court interdict was secured to stop a regional party conference in Upington.

Fezile Kies, spokesperson for ANC provincial secretary Neville Mompati, said an application was successfully filed in the Kimberley High Court to stop a ”clandestine” Siyanda regional conference.

Kies criticised the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) in the province for working in a ”very clandestine” manner, adding: ”We were left with no alternative that this process must be stopped.”

He said three venues were known for the Siyanda regional conference on Thursday night, which was expected to be held on Friday. ”Up to this morning [Friday] there was not even a conference notice.”

Kies accused the PEC of nominating ”their own” branch delegates in the region during a recent meeting and ”reallocating” Mompati delegates. ”They [then] insisted that they want to continue with the conference.”

Alvin Botes, Northern Cape ANC Youth League chairperson, on behalf of the current party leader, John Block, said branches had made nominations. He dismissed criticism against the PEC and said the body remains politically responsible for the province. ”The PEC of the ANC is still the ‘authority’ force in the province until the next provincial conference.”

Botes said allegations made against the PEC were only ”sour grapes”, adding: ”People are talking and finding out how bad it was going with their nominations, to such extent that they are trying for court interdicts to stop the conference.”

Both Northern Cape factions had in the past week held media conferences to show their candidates — Block and Mompati — had already secured ”overwhelming” support to be the new leader of the ANC in the province.

It was initially thought that Block was standing in support of ANC president Jacob Zuma and Mompati for South African President Thabo Mbeki.

However, a pro-Mompati statement on Thursday from Frances Baard (Kimberley), Siyanda (Upington) and Namaqua (Springbok) branches supports Zuma.

”We are still optimistic that a solution shall be found and that a conducive environment shall prevail for us to start focusing on mobilising resources for president Jacob Zuma in his court battle. We are fully behind our president,” the statement reads.

On Friday afternoon, unconfirmed reports indicated that ANC members from the Namaqua region were also on their way to Kimberley to file a court application to try to stop a regional conference in the area.

The party’s provincial conference is expected to be held in Kuruman on August 28. — Sapa