Make or break debate at ANC EC conference

The ANC Eastern Cape leadership is bracing for a possible application to interdict the party’s conference underway in East London, as delegates claim a fraudulent list of delegates has been accepted into the gathering.

“We need first to correct the list so you can read the correct names. If you have not changed [the list] there’s nothing corrected,” PEC member Andile Lungisa told the Mail & Guardian on Saturday.

“We picked up that fraud a long time ago, then we gave the secretariat’s office [the evidence] to do the clean up. He still brought back that fraud… So whatever we picked up in the PEC [provincial executive committee] was undermined by bringing back that fraud,” Lungisa said.

A fierce election contest between chairperson Phumulo Masualle and secretary Oscar Mabuyane is expected to take place once the gathering gets underway. The delays have been attributed to both sides hoping to ensure the delegation numbers are tipped in the favour of their preferred candidate.

On Saturday, the verification of delegates was restarted after it emerged that branch members disqualified from participating by an ANC national appeals committee were inside the conference hall.

Mabuyane told the Mail & Guardian the credentials report debate, which determines the legitimacy of the gathering, would be “make or break”.

“We are patient about it because credentials can make or break the conference, you cannot take credentials lightly, especially if the conference is very tense like this, and probably contested. So we are not panicking, we are trying to clean anything so that we lessen any issue that might arise as a question as elements of discrediting the ANC.”

Threats of the conference delegation being disputed in court are becoming more likely, Mabuyane said, and the ANC Eastern Cape legal team has already been briefed in case an attempt is made to stop the conference from going ahead.

Mabuyane said the claims of bogus delegates were being peddled from within the ANC itself.

“We thought let’s be thorough and detailed [during verification] for the sake of the ANC’s integrity, because even the people who are peddling this narrative, the kind of perceptions about bogus delegates, are ANC members themselves, some are leaders,” Mabuyane told the M&G.

But Lungisa said the battle over delegation numbers would take place in the credentials debate, which had not yet started by Saturday afternoon.

“It will be contested inside [the conference], not outside,” Lungisa said.

Only once the report on delegation numbers was cleared and adopted, would it be clear which faction holds majority support. Mabuyane remained in the lead by Saturday morning, but Masualle’s supporters appeared emboldened by the restart of verification.

But without the dispute over delegate verification being resolved, the conference cannot go ahead.

Outside the international convention centre, a heightened police presence prevented hundreds of ANC members from storming the venue, as they did on Friday night. 

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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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