Hours after President Jacob Zuma gave the ANC Mpumalanga conference his blessing, the party’s alliance partners in the province decried the proceedings as fraudulent, accusing Zuma’s close ally, incumbent provincial party chairman, David Mabuza and his campaigners of corrupting the elective conference.
Mabuza, a firm Zuma backer, was elected unopposed as ANC provincial chairman after the provincial treasurer Clifford Mkansi, turn down his nomination.
However, neither Cosatu nor the SA Communist Party in Mpumalanga supports his bid for a second term.
Mabuza, who is also the Premier of the Mpumalanga, has been very unpopular and is seen as being divisive and as having misused his position to enrich himself. On his watch the relationship between the ANC and its alliance partners have degenerated to an all time low, said the alliance leaders speaking to the Mail and Guardian. The Youth League has also complained of being marginalised during his term. The provincial youth league, Cosatu and the SACP consider Mabuza unfit to hold the esteemed ANC position.
This is in direct conflict with their national leaders — Cosatu’s Sidumo Dlamini and the SACP’s Blade Nzimande — who are firm Mabuza and Zuma backers.
Messages of support
The Mpumalanga provincial alliance leaders on Friday accused Mabuza of gagging them during the opening session of the provincial conference, because their views were unfavorable to him.
Traditionally, at every conference, the ANC’s alliance partners and leagues are given a slot to deliver their “messages of support”. It serves as an opportunity for the alliance partners to express their views on the outgoing leader’s administration.
But on Friday afternoon the provincial ANC leadership denied both the SACP and Cosatu an opportunity to deliver their messages of support because the leadership had changed the programme without informing the alliance partners that they would be speaking sooner than scheduled which meant that by the time they had arrived back from lunch Mabuza had already started to deliver his political report. Despite requests from the alliance leaders, the ANC resolved that they would not be given the time to deliver their message — a move the alliance partners’ leadership say was deliberate.
The ANC Youth League and Women’s League had not even been penciled in on the programme to deliver their messages.
On Friday night Cosatu provincial secretary Fidel Mlombo said: “They knew (that) we were going to raise issues the leadership would have been uncomfortable with. They rented cows (people) who booed when the alliance wanted to speak.”
Corrupting the conference
Mlombo and the SACP provincial secretary Bonakele Majuba have accused Mabuza’s camp of “corrupting the conference” out of desperation to hold onto the levers of power in the province which is riddled with corruption and characterised by poor service delivery.
“We always said we have a problem with the way he deals with the alliance. He wants to marginalise the alliance partners. He is no different to Thabo Mbeki. We never supported Mabuza. This whole conference is looted, defrauded from beginning to end,” said Majuba.
He said the processes leading to the conference was “highly corrupted” because many branches present at the three day elective conference had been sent without having gone to the annual general meetings as procedure dictated.
Fidel conceded with his SACP counterpart saying the conference was “stolen, fraudulent and deliberately designed to produce the desired results that the incumbent (Mabuza) should remain chairman”.
The M&G has learnt that more than 60 complaints had been lodged during a heated closed session on Friday night. Delegates charged during the session that the proper processes leading up to the conference had not been followed. Mabuza and the ANC provincial spokesman Paul Mbenyane could not be reached for comment. But Mabuza in his political report earlier on Friday called on the ANC members to defend him in the face of increasing onslaughts against him by the provincial alliance partners.
A new chapter
“I want to say one thing I have been quiet about— If members of the alliance are insulting the chair of the ANC, what must I do? Who must defend it? Who must defend it? I am sure we will open a new chapter (after the conference). If I am part of the alliance — go out and speak out about internal matters it is wrong. Equally so other alliance partners can go out and speak about the partners. It is wrong,” said Mabuza.
Voting for the top five positions of the provincial executive committee took place late on Friday night. Mabuza’s victory will bolster Zuma’s chances of being re-elected at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.