Delaying congress could further 'demoralise' Western Cape ANC

ANC Western Cape secretary general Songezo Mjongile. (David Harrison, M&G)

ANC Western Cape secretary general Songezo Mjongile. (David Harrison, M&G)

Any postponement of April’s planned Western Cape ANC elective congress will demoralise members who are itching to take up the leadership reigns in the province.

So says political analyst Daniel Silke, who believes delaying the congress – as appears increasingly likely – might lead to even more tension in the already embattled Western Cape ANC and dampen efforts to revive the party with new leadership, especially in the build-up to local government elections.

The party is considering whether to change the planned April 16 to 19 date of the elective congress, which can only be held once all the regional congresses have been completed. 

Silke said any postponement would be a clear indication that all was not well in the ANC Western Cape.

“It would in a sense demoralise those who wish to see the ANC come with a clean slate of leaders before the elections. If it is postponed, it would create even more tension within the [Western Cape] ANC,” he said.

“The party clearly wants to have all its ducks in a row before it goes to some sort of congress, because it obviously does not want the congress to end up being disruptive. They are trying to restore order within the ranks before trying to go full steam ahead with a conference, but any delay would be indicative of internal wranglings, and perhaps disagreement over strategy going forward as well.”

Deep factionalism
According to ANC Western Cape secretary general Songezo Mjongile, the next 10 days will determine whether the party is ready for an elective conference next month, or if more time is needed to allow the party to get its different branches ready. 

Faced with deep factionalism and a leadership that does not enjoy the full support of the party’s structure, the Western Cape seemed set to convene its conference in three weeks when it confidently announced its post Provincial Executive Committee outcomes earlier this month.
Now the date seems to have been more of a suggestion than a decision.

In the first week of March, Mjongile said the province had settled on April 16 to 19 as the dates for the provincial elective conference.

“This will be preceded by the delayed regional conferences that are starting in the middle of March. This will ensure all ANC structures have renewed their mandate and develop a clear program for 2016,” he said at a press conference at the time following the PEC meeting.

Now it appears regional conferences will determine when the elective congress will be held, according to Mjongile, who said the party would only make a decision after its next PEC meeting on April 10. 

“The date for the elective congress is April 16 to 19, but I suspect the next PEC will assess the progress and take a decision about what will happen going forward.”

Threat of dissolution
Mjongile insisted rumours that the party’s leadership was facing disbarment were not true. He said his leadership was determined to pull the Western Cape structure up and set it on a different pedestal. 

On Sunday, City Press reported the provincial leadership had two weeks to get its act together or face being dissolved.

Mjongile said the ANC Western Cape leadership was busy consolidating some of the progress it had already made and was working towards uniting the party and the community, which had been divided by historic issues such as racial tensions.

The ANC lost the Western Cape to the Democratic Alliance in the 2009 and 2014 general elections.  

He said the delay might not affect party numbers at election time, as voters only started caring about party politics closer to the time.

The ANC National Executive Committee held its meeting in Cape Town where it called on the Western Cape to build on momentum of the January 8 celebrations.

“We must consolidate our gains and close ranks against those who seek to drive a wedge of division among the black people in general and between Africans and Coloureds in particular in that province,” secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.

Mantanshe said the NEC also called for a follow-up on the allegations that provincial chairperson Marius Fransman had promised money to the Cape Town minstrels if they voted for the ruling party.