​Claims that delegations were manipulated heard at ANC Northern Cape conference

A controversial report with evidence that delegates to the Northern Cape’s ANC conference were not properly elected or deployed by their branches to represent them has been presented to the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC).

An urgent PEC meeting was held during lunch time at the eighth provincial conference, under way in Colesberg. Allegations from some ANC members in the province that the conference wasn’t properly constituted were heard.

The allegations contained in the report include:

  1. That the membership of delegates from the ZF Matthews region was cloned and the people at conference are not legitimate representatives.
  2. There were no processes initiated to deal with disputes in the delegations to conference from the Frances Baard region,
  3. There are 10 outstanding branch general meeting (BGMs) re-runs in the John Taolo Gaetsewe region.

“There were a lot of discrepancies in the build up to the conference and I think it depends on how people feel about it, what they will be doing [after the conference]. As we speak now, all the delegates from Frances Baard are from parallel BGMs that were held after the original meetings were held,” Lucas, who is the provincial ANC told the Mail & Guardian.

“There is evidence of this and there is a meeting sitting [at lunch] and we will receive that report as the PEC,” Lucas added.

Despite the conference having officially started on Thursday, the conference credentials, which confirms who is in the gathering and how many voting delegates are in each region, had still not been adopted by Friday afternoon.

“Up to this stage, no credentials have been confirmed,” Lucas said.

PEC member Roseline Tyler said she was part of a group of people in the Northern Cape ANC leadership that attempted to speak out against the manipulation and “wrongdoing” by Saul and his supporters.

“But you know, if you are in power, if you are sitting in that provincial office and the regional secretaries are all supporting you in the wrong doing. They are the ones getting the forms from the branches. They sit there and they change [delegate names and numbers], what can I do?” Tyler asked.

The stage has been set for a proxy battle between Lucas and the party’s secretary Zamani Saul for the position of chairperson. Lucas is known to be campaigning for a woman to be elected ANC president in December, while Saul has publicly backed ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from president Jacob Zuma.

There is no clarity on how many delegates will be voting and whether the people at the gathering are legitimate representatives of ANC branches.

Delivering the keynote address to regular applause and cheers from the delegates, Ramaphosa on Friday appealed for an election of leaders who would “unite the movement”, and not deepen divisions.

“You must say no to dividing this conference into factions. Say no to this bad habit coming into ANC of singing and shouting with derogatory slogans. Say no to the bad tendencies of booing [leaders],” Ramaphosa said.

Lucas admitted that, as it stands, the PEC is divided over loyalty to the two main candidates.

“At the current moment, we are on different sides as PEC members because of the conference,” she said.

On Wednesday, Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas reshuffled her provincial cabinet and appointed two of her strongest supporters from the ANC Women’s League in the Northern Cape, Gail Parker and Alexandra Beukes, as MECs.

She defended her decision – which was lambasted by Saul as “disgusted” and national ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa as “arrogant” – and said she would explain her reasons for doing so in due course.

“I’m part of the PEC and the PEC never discussed the reshuffle. The secretary [Saul] responded in his personal capacity, so I don’t feel isolated,” Lucas said.

“I stand by my decision. After we have consulted with officials on a national level, we will make known what our reasons are, because we have got reasons, for the reshuffling. Without it being personal and without it being arrogance. Many people will say they don’t know me as an arrogant leader,” the premier said.

On Friday afternoon, Saul appeared to retain the most support from delegates. The Independent Electoral Commission is due open the floor for nominations for new leadership today, after a fiercely contested debate on the conference credentials.

Saul told delegates debating the legitimacy of the conference that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe signed off on a verification report of the conference credentials and that everyone taking part in the conference was vetted before arriving.

“I’m part of the PEC and the PEC never discussed [Saul’s condemnation of the] reshuffle. The secretary [Saul] responded in his personal capacity, so I don’t feel isolated,” Lucas said.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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