The ANC Youth League in the Eastern Cape has lambasted senior ANC leaders in the province, including party chairperson Pumulo Masualle, for dissolving the chaotic OR Tambo regional conference without announcing election results.
The Mail & Guardian understands an anti-Jacob Zuma faction won the election with a slight margin.
The provincial ANC leadership on Monday announced its decision to dissolve the conference following allegations of fraud relating to delegate credentials.
The electoral commission discovered that 591 delegates, instead of 587 adopted by plenary at 5am on Monday, cast votes. Conference proceedings, which officially began on Sunday, ran throughout the night as factional groupings raised accusations and counter-accusations of membership fraud and inflated membership figures.
In an interview on Monday, youth league spokesperson Nkosinathi Nomatiti questioned the ANC's decision to dissolve the conference without announcing the results.
"It can't be that when people [delegates] express their will to elect leaders, their wish is undermined. There are people who believe the ANC belongs to them. What we are witnessing here is dictatorship of the worst kind from the side of the PEC [provincial executive committee]," said Nomatiti.
"It is unfortunate that those who have the privilege to see the results before they are announced decided to act maliciously and rendered the members useless. That can't be accepted. Is not only abuse of power, but an attempt to destabilise the ANC. The chairperson [Masualle]'s political stewardship could not prevail to save the ANC,"
Nomatiti said he could not understand the rationale behind the ANC's decision because some committee members were part of the decision to adopt credentials.
"You have a PEC of the ANC that alleges there were fraudulent processes and that they cannot prove that," said Nomatiti. "But at the same time, they were the ones who verified credentials which were adopted. You can't turn back, yet you were part of the process."
" It does not make sense," he continued. "It has always been the wish to of the PEC to dissolve the regional executive committee [REC]. Delegates did not want leaders who are imposed. They wanted to make their own choice, but they are being denied by the PEC," He said the youth league would soon convene a PEC meeting to discuss the matter.
"I do not understand why the few PEC members who were there think they can take such a decision. The REC can never dissolve if the PEC is not quorate. It can only do that if is quorating. No one can stand up in a conference and say the REC is dissolved. They must call a PEC meeting to do that," said Nomatiti.
ANC spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane defended the ANC's decision to dissolve the conference without announcing the results. He said the decision not to announce the results was as a result of allegations of fraud raised by the IEC.
"We did not dissolve the REC. It seized to exist the moment the conference started at the weekend".
Qoboshiyane said the league's accusations against ANC leaders were without any base.
"[The ANC Youth League's argument] is the immature way of understanding how ANC conferences work. When there is fraud you don't wait for the entire PEC to take place. It would be unthinkable to wait for the entire PEC before you take a decision. PEC deployees at conference have the powers, given by the PEC, to take any decision relating to the conference. We will report what happened to the PEC. The youth league argument is baseless," said Qoboshiyane.
The conference ground to a halt on Friday and Saturday due to a dispute over the accrediting of delegates from various ANC branches in the region.
A number of delegates, who spoke to the M&G at the conference, accused members of the provincial executive committee of trying to manipulate credentials to ensure a newly-elected leadership was not hostile to President Jacob Zuma, who is campaigning to be re-elected ANC leader at the Mangaung conference in December.
The influential OR Tambo region is the second largest region of the ANC in the country after EThekwini region in KwaZulu-Natal and the outcome of its elective conference will have a significant bearing on who between Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe emerges as ANC leader during the party's crucial elective conference in four months' time.
Zuma's supports, including PEC members, were pushing for the removal of current regional secretary Jackson Sabona and regional chairperson Thandekile Sabisa. They want the two leaders to be replaced by Lulama Ngcukayithopi and William Ngozi as regional secretary and regional chairperson respectively.