Disqualified delegates stall ANC Eastern Cape conference, again.

ANC members who were registered as delegates to the party’s Eastern Cape conference, and later disqualified by an audit, need to be stripped of their voting rights and attendance before the gathering can resume.

The first day of the conference in East London ended with about a hundred ANC members storming the venue, overpowering security and claiming the delegation numbers were manipulated in favour of the Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane.

He is expected to contest the party’s chairperson and premier Phumulo Masualle for the top position, but disputes over who should be allowed in has led to the gathering not yet officially starting.

On Friday night, Masualle delivered his political report and the conference received messages of support before an adjournment was called.

ANC Eastern Cape spokesperson Milo Qoboshiyane said the adjournment was necessitated by allegations of an improperly constituted gathering.

The report on credentials, which verifies the legitimacy of participants at the conference, was not presented, Qoboshiyane said. This is because the national appeals committee heard disputes after delegates were already registered in their regions three weeks earlier.

“If the [credentials committee] receives a report from the appeals committee of national ANC [now], saying take away this branch even though it has been registered, deregister it in the system, by that time the delegate have already been registered,” Qoboshiyane said.

“It’s not a problem if the person is inside the conference, it’s simple. Take the card, and ensure that the correct delegate is inside,” he added, explaining that the high number of guests and support staff also angered voting delegates.

“It has never happened that there are delegates sitting on the floor, while the hall is already full while there are branches which are supposed to be inside that are still outside.”

Regional leaders have estimated that Mabuyane will win the provincial election by more than 400 votes should Masualle accept a nomination to fight to retain his position.

Mabuyane’s supporters, however, have been trying to persuade Masualle to represent the Eastern Cape in the national executive committee, offering to campaign for him to be elected into the NEC at the party’s December conference.

ANC NEC member Lindiwe Zulu blamed Friday night’s chaos at the conference entrance on “lax security”.

“Anyone else who comes unregistered, unprocessed, cannot be a delegate of the ANC. Those who are outside, who were not supposed to be here, ended up being here,” Zulu told M&G.

“This happened simply because there was a bit of a [security] lax, in terms of who comes in here. It was supposed to be much tighter. Because as the ANC we cannot be defeated by our own machinery. No-one is going to come anywhere here who is not a proper delegate of conference,” she added.

ANC Sarah Baartman regional secretary Scara Njadayi condemned the disruption of last night’s session. “They were a rented crowd who stormed the conference… and that bears testimony to our argument that there are some people out there who want to see the conference collapsing,” he told the M&G.

ANC leaders from Sarah Baartman, Joe Gqabi and Amathole regions have all confirmed the presence of illegitimate delegates among their constituencies. On Saturday morning, the provincial executive committee decided to call in the regions one at a time, and verify the identity of each of the candidates.

The conference is due to resume on Saturday afternoon amid fears of more delays. But Zulu stressed that the manner in which the Eastern Cape gathering has started, is not a sign of things to come in December when the party elects national leaders.

“It’s lessons for the conference in December. For us who’ve been sent here as the NEC, we’ve come here to reinforce the provincial executive and our responsibility to is to make sure that this that happened here yesterday, does not happen at the ANC conference [in December].”

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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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