A rebellion by ANC officials in the party’s Dullah Omar region in the Western Cape was orchestrated by suspended provincial chairperson Marius Fransman, who is the “hidden hand” behind a bitter feud, the party’s senior officials heard this week.
The region, the biggest in the province and covering the city of Cape Town, has been dysfunctional for two years. This dysfunction is widely viewed as the reason behind the Democratic Alliance’s first-ever two-thirds victory in the city in last year’s municipal elections.
Divisions in the region are rooted in the ANC’s succession debate, with Dullah Omar officials publicly backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s (NDZ) bid to replace president Jacob Zuma, whereas provincial leaders — and five other regions — prefer deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
If the Dullah Omar region lines up behind Ramaphosa as well, the entire province would go the ANC’s elective conference in December as a united voting bloc.
“Despite the fact that he’s been suspended, he [Fransman] still operates as the hidden hand. It’s almost common knowledge that he takes his instructions from Jacob Zuma and implements the NDZ programme in the Western Cape. The key objective is to ensure chaos,” a senior source in the ANC told the Mail & Guardian, on condition of anonymity.
This week Fransman dismissed claims that he is stoking a feud. “They are trying to make myself the boogeyman. So everything they do wrong, they blame it on someone else,” he told the M&G.
This week saw a blow for Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign. The party’s top six officials, despite being led by Zuma, met the ANC Western Cape provincial executive committee (PEC) and Dullah Omar regional officials.
In a decision ratified by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, the region’s leadership was disbanded by the PEC for gross insubordination and its dismal performance in the local government elections last year.
A counterattack by the Dullah Omar region’s now ousted regional secretary, Vuyiso “JJ” Tyhalisisu, to disband the PEC failed.
A regional task team headed by former Congress of the People (Cope) member Leonard Ramatlakane and Hawks head Anwa Dramat was appointed to take over after the disbandment. The locks at the region’s Salt River offices were changed.
Tyhalisisu and Dullah Omar regional chairperson Xolani Sotashe are staunch supporters of Fransman and the main targets in the disbandment, the region’s youth league said this week.
“It seems that the region is being targeted. We’ve been given numerous reasons why they’ve been disbanded and we cannot get a sense of those reasons,” Dullah Omar youth league secretary Mfuzo Zenzile told the M&G.
During the meeting with the national officials, Tyhalisisu and Sotashe were accused of undermining the PEC and failing to hold branch meetings.
This accusation “came out quite strong when the president was here”, said a member of the PEC who was at the meeting.
But the youth league in the Dullah Omar region accused provincial leaders of using the disbandment to push through “bought membership” ahead of the ANC’s December conference. “There is unholy membership, bought membership, that these guys want to push through,” Zenzile said.
The audit verification committee has not yet checked the legitimacy of the province’s ANC’s membership figures.
The league also wants to see Fransman return. “We are not saying he is immune from allegations, but he has not been proven guilty in the court of law,” Zenzile added.
Fransman was suspended from the ANC for five years after being found guilty of using his official position to solicit sexual favours from his personal assistant at the party’s birthday celebrations last year.
He blames Jacobs and the PEC’s apparent leaning towards Ramaphosa for the feud. “The bottom line is that the Western Cape ANC needs leadership, not leaders that are voting fodder for a CR17 [Ramaphosa] campaign.”
Jacobs declined to comment. The ANC announced on Thursday that further discussions with provincial and regional leaders would happen this weekend.