While chairperson Marius Fransman was voted in unopposed after getting more than enough branch nominations to automatically qualify to stand at the congress, the rest of the candidates’ fates was up to delegates, who made the call for new blood a reality by kicking out former provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile and deputy chairperson Abe Bekeer.
In a tightly contested race, Mjongile was edged out of his position by local government specialist Faiz Jacobs, who got 338 of the 670 votes at the congress on Sunday evening.
On the last day of the congress, hundreds of excited delegates sang, danced, kissed and congratulated each other as soon as news of results started trickling through just before 9pm, claiming that now the Western Cape had a better chance of winning back the province from the Democratic Alliance.
They ran around the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Bellville Campus shouting “Our guy has won, change is here. Our votes are not for sale”, after votes were counted.
The tensions were high, however, among supporters of Mjongile, who could not believe their leader had lost out by such small margin.
One excited delegate, who ran from group to group shaking hands and jumping up and down with elation, said it had been a long journey to change, and it was desperately needed in the province.
“Now, with Songezo [Mjongile] gone, we will really see actual change in the province. This is a new beginning for this province.”
Another delegate, from the Dullah Omar region, however felt it was a big mistake electing Jacobs to the position.
“Having two Coloured leaders is not going to do anything for the party. Fransman has been at the helm for four years and hasn’t managed to mobilise the coloured community. What is this going to change?”
Tight race for provincial secretary
While leaders from the NEC who attended the congress preached unity from when the congress got under way on Saturday after 4pm, the divisions were evident from the beginning as delegates sang songs calling for change even before the nominations. The tight race for the provincial secretary was evidence of the just how wide the divisions were.
And healing those divisions is one of re-elected leader Fransman’s priorities.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the congress on Sunday, Fransman outlined some of his plans for the next four years, which include streamlining the leadership by investing in the capabilities of their people.
His plans include ward-based profiling and regular performance assessments in a bid to build the party’s support in the province in the build up to the 2016 local government elections. “What we must do is to go and take back what is ours in the province. It will possibly be the hardest elections that we have fought for. We must have more resilient teams on the ground to deal with voter education, which will be critical.”
He repeated the need to make inroads in the coloured communities in the Western Cape, where the ANC has lost support in the past 15 years. “And the way we can do that is to deal with the issue of identity. One of the key projects, a national project in this province, must be the issue of identity. If we go back to the foundation of where we come from here, non-racialism was a key pillar. Now are we non-racial as we sit here? Now that’s the challenge.
“We are going to now deal with strengthening the party, meaning we will throw out what needs to be thrown out. And we will go on our biggest offensive on the metro [Cape Town]. You can’t be an ANC branch leader, MPL, councillor if you are not able to respond to the needs of the community when it comes to the metro. And we will keep people accountable,” said Fransman.
On Saturday, the keynote address was delivered by Minister Derek Hanekom, who pleaded with the different structures and alliances to show and practice unity at all times.
“Because stability is one thing, but it has to move on to unity. We know that a divided ANC is not going to achieve what we have set ourselves to achieve. We know it is only through unity that we can achieve our objectives. But it is not just any kind of unity, but we have got to talk about a revolutionary unity. A unity with a clear purpose, so we have to talk about unity in action,” said Hanekom.
The party is expected to release the full list of the new PEC this week. The top five are chairperson Marius Fransman, deputy chair Khaya Magaxa, provincial secretary Faiz Jacobs and his deputy Thandi Manyikivana and Maurencia Gillion as treasurer. Gillion is the former deputy secretary in the province.