African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe says a protest against the list of preferred ward councillor candidates in the Northern Cape is “sensational” and “mischievous,” as their complaints had already been addressed by lower structures.
Mantashe was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the national list conference, taking place over two days in Centurion.
“There is an element of mischief. They have submitted complaints and we have dealt with it,” Mantashe said. “We are going to discuss the Northern & Eastern Cape lists this afternoon but there is a sensationalising of the issue.”
“We will not take decisions based on emotions,” the ANC boss said.
The protest of about 20 people was organised by ANC members belonging to the party’s Sol Plaatjie sub-region in Kimberley. They have accused the provincial secretary Zanani Saul and the Francis Baard regional secretary Webster Dichaba of manipulating the list, thereby excluding people already endorsed by some communities to stand for the August elections.
The protesting party members claim that Saul changed the names on 21 out of 33 lists in the Francis Baard region in order to ensure he secures enough support to win next year’s provincial congress election for Northern Cape chairperson.
The position is up for grabs following the resignation of ANC Northern Cape stalwart John Block.
Saul told the Mail & Gaurdian the unhappy faction “submitted their complaints to the national list appeals committee and it was dismissed.”
“All of their complaints were dismissed. I don’t know what it is that they want us to do because the decision of the national appeals committee is final.”
He also denied tampering with the branch and sub-regions’ lists. “It’s not true. The regional list committee deals with the consolidation of lists, from there it goes to provinces,” Saul said.
The protesters arrived in Centurion on Friday morning with placards reading “Save us from our leaders in the Northern Cape.”
The ANC members demonstrating outside the lists conference venue warned that if they are not able to secure a favourable change to the lists, they will continue protests in their respective communities.
Among the protesters was Vincent Swarts, an ANC member in Kimberley, who lost control of ward 3 to the Democratic Alliance by six votes in the 2011 polls. Swarts took part in the ANC’s Ubuntu branch meeting in Homevale Extension, where he says Moses Sebotse and Jonathan Welcome received the most votes to stand as ward councillor.
He further claims a community meeting attended by around 300 people endorsed a different ANC member, Derrick Korkie, to stand for election.
“The ANC guidelines state that the community’s choice must be the ANC’s choice. Those guidelines are good but officials are ignoring them. Honestly, if these two (Sebotse and Welcome) are in, I won’t be campaigning. I’ll keep my vote and sit at home,” Swarts said.
Mantashe said he’s been inundated with messages from unhappy candidates, and believes communities are being mobilised by individuals who were unable to secure enough support from within the party and community itself.
“The problem is not with communities, it is with the individuals who want to be councillors,” Mantashe said. “Some threaten to leave the ANC or migrate to other areas. There is desperation, so others will mobilise communities to protest on their behalf,” he added.
Despite his condemnation of the protests, Mantashe said the ANC has a technical committee present at the election list conference to assess the appeals.