Oscar Mabuyane has been elected the new chairperson of the ANC Eastern Cape by a landslide majority, amid a looming challenge to the legitimacy of the conference by a rival faction led by premier Phumulo Masualle.
Mabuyane accepted the nomination after a violent brawl between his and Masualle’s supporters, during which chairs were thrown and eight people injured.
A total of 951 out of 1706 ANC members remained in the conference hall after the brawl, constituting 55% of the delegation. This allowed the conference to proceed, but when nominated for the top leadership, Masualle and his backers were not available to accept or decline.
Mabuyane received 931 votes in a result announced by the independent electoral commission (IEC) on Sunday morning. Despite Masualle not indicating whether he is available to stand for election, he received seven votes.
Former OR Tambo regional secretary Lulama Ngcukaitobi was elected as provincial secretary unopposed, as provincial executive committee (PEC) member Andile Lungisa was not available to indicate if he accepts or decline a nomination for the position but still received one vote.
Mlungisi Mvoko was elected deputy chairperson, replacing Masualle’s close ally Sakhumzi Somyo. Helen Sauls-August was re-elected to her position as deputy secretary while Babalo Madikizela was elected treasurer, beating Thandiswa Marawu who only received five votes.
The results of the top five Eastern Cape ANC officials was dominated by Mabuyane’s allies. But the national executive committee (NEC) members overseeing the conference endorsed the election of the top five officials.
As the results were announced, more of Masualle’s supporters packed the East London city hall to capacity and were addressed by Lungisa. The losing action indicated they intend contesting the conference’s credentials and could approach the courts.
PEC members, provincial spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane and regional ANC leaders from Amathole, Nelson Mandela Bay and Joe Gqabi regions were also present at the city hall meeting, as well as ordinary branch leaders who were injured in the brawl.
Qoboshiyane told those gathered at the city hall that they would not challenge the conference in court. “We will challenge this through the ANC structures, we are not scared”.
Among them was Amathole region ANC member Mzoxolo Mathondolo, who was discharged from hospital on Sunday morning after being hit on the head with a chair. He arrived to cheers wearing a neck brace with and a bandage covering his head.