Road to Mangaung: ANC branches battle with numbers

The branch meetings are where the nominations take place.

Some regional leaders are panicking that their branches may miss the opportunity to nominate and elect new leaders – and will therefore not be represented at the ANC's Mangaung conference because of their failure to hold proper meetings.

The ANC constitution requires that for a branch meeting to proceed there must be at least a 50% turnout – plus one branch member. Achieving this quorum is proving to be a mammoth task.

One regional leader, who did not want to be named, said most branches in his region would be trying for a second or third time to hold meetings.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said all provinces should finalise their nominations by November 26.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen which faction is leading the nominations as lobbyists from both sides claim to have the edge.

A simple thing
In the Western Cape, a senior ANC leader who is campaigning for change in Mangaung claims that of the 84 branches that had held branch meetings by Wednesday night, 55 had nominated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to take over the reins of the party and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula as the proposed new secretary general.

The provincial leader said: "It's a simple thing; they might make claims, but we are leading. That's not going to change. If you remember, even before Polokwane the Western Cape didn't want Zuma."

This claim has been rubbished by the province's pro-Jacob Zuma grouping.

ANC Eastern Cape spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane said about 60% of the province's branches had completed their nominations and 80% of them had chosen Zuma to continue at the helm.

"We rely on the information we receive on the day of branch general meetings, but we have not yet consolidated the statistics. JZ may be enjoying 80% of the total number of those who have already nominated. There is no region that has failed to nominate him, including those that were said to be against him," said Qoboshiyane.

"He shows no sign of fear. In Mbizana we went to the same area as the ANC Youth League and received the loudest applause. He conducts his organisational leadership differently. He has a common touch."

Qoboshiyane said there were no policy differences between Zuma and Motlanthe and, instead, the two were working closely together.

Agents for change
"If Motlanthe is available [for ­deputy president], it will be an advantage for the ANC," he said.

Thandekile Sabisa, chairperson of the province's large OR Tambo region and chief lobbyist for the "agents for change" grouping, differred. "Anyone who claims to know the numbers is misleading you. They are merely giving you their opinion," he said.  

Sabisa said that after a branch had nominated its preferred leaders the nominations were put at a sealed envelope and therefore, with the exception of the people in the meeting, no one could be certain about who had been nominated.

He was confident, however, that Motlanthe would come out tops in the province.

"As a region [OR Tambo] we have resolved to campaign for Motlanthe and we are busy lobbying other regions to do the same. At the regional general council Kgalema will be nominated and we will ensure that in the provincial general council he is nominated strongly."

Necessary protocols
The Eastern Cape is proving to be a battleground for the two factions. Last week, the youth league was forced to postpone its OR Tambo rally, which was meant to be attended by Motlanthe, because Zuma was addressing a rally in the same area.

The league claimed that the rally organised by the Zuma-backed provincial executive committee was an act of sabotage. The league said it had organised its OR Tambo rally two months in advance and had followed all the necessary protocols, including informing ANC headquarters about the event.

"There was no competing programme at any point. We are not surprised, however, to note that President Zuma has agreed to address a rally in the same area, organised by the provincial executive committee of the ANC, the following day. This swiftly organised rally is nothing but a blatant and immature act to sabotage the activities of the ANC Youth League [and is] further evidence of how far some among us are willing to go to preserve the status quo, while shouting for change on other platforms."

The youth league rally has been rescheduled for this weekend in Mbizana and Motlanthe will apparently address it.

Zuma's diary, released to the media on Monday, reveals that he will be back in the Eastern Cape to address "heritage" celebrations at Lotana Great Place in Qumbu, about two hours away from Mbizana, on Sunday.

Qoboshiyane said traditional leaders had invited Zuma to the event. "He is visiting all areas in the ­province. He will be here again this weekend to interact with traditional leaders. They invited him for their event. So you have a president who has his own contacts. That, to us, is a leader that we need," he said.

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Matuma Letsoala
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