Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel jetted into Cape Town this week to help ANC leaders unify around a single set of leaders in the Western Cape and ensure that the previous leadership, headed by Mcebisi Skwatsha, is not re-elected.
The contenders for the position of chairperson are Skwatsha and International Relations Deputy Minister Marius Fransman.
Fransman was implicated by former Cape Argus journalist Ashley Smith in the “brown envelope scandal”, in which journalists were allegedly paid to publish articles that influenced the political landscape in the province, but the matter is still to be investigated.
Former premier Ebrahim Rasool, who was accused of bribing journalists, and some of his supporters have been moved to diplomatic posts.
The Mail & Guardian understands that the invitation-only meeting, held on Monday night in Cape Town, decided that to “promote unity” in the divided Western Cape, members of the ANC’s disbanded provincial executive committee (PEC) should not be re-elected to office. Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaala also attended.
“It’s not about personalities, it’s about a decision by the ANC that we must do everything in our power to oppose the existence of a slate,” Manuel told the M&G.
“Slates” are lists developed by ANC factions to ensure candidates are chosen as a bloc and not as individuals.
“Delegates vote for people on a slate, ignoring everybody else,” Manuel told the M&G on Thursday. “That is factional, certainly not democratic and not in the best interests or traditions of the ANC.”
‘Word on the street’
Manuel claimed the “word on the street” was that the leaders of the disbanded PEC could be re-elected. There were about 30 people at the ANC meeting this week and those who attended said those present were mostly Fransman’s supporters.
The M&G spoke to several members of the interim leadership of the province, called the provincial task team, who did not know that such a meeting took place.
Former provincial chairperson Skwatsha, who has significant support in the province, was the only member of the former PEC invited to attend. Manuel said the PEC had been involved in infighting and could not lead the Western Cape.
“The movement has to be bigger than the individual and personalities. If what comes up is what we had 18 months ago, we shall have failed and we may as well walk away from the ANC,” he reportedly told ANC members at the meeting.
ANC members said Manuel indirectly told them to “spread the message” that a new leadership needed to be elected, “flying in the face of the ANC constitution and democracy.” The provincial conference is due to be held later this month.