/ 1 December 2017

Would-be leaders ‘must snub rigged nominations’

Thabo Manyoni is ready to stand as Free State party chairperson
Thabo Manyoni is ready to stand as Free State party chairperson

Candidates who hope to be elected ANC president in December should reject any nominations they have obtained through irregular branch processes, Free State ANC deputy chairperson Thabo Manyoni said this week. 

He was speaking to the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday after the high court in Bloemfontein decided that at least 28 of the ANC’s branch general meetings (BGMs) in the Free State were irregular and ruled that the provincial elective conference could not resume until the BGMs were rerun.

Manyoni, who supported the party members who took the matter to court, said it was concerning that the many reports of irregular BGMs seemed to go unnoticed by presidential candidates. 

“What type of leaders are we going to have if you, being leader, know you were nominated in a process that had rigging and theft? Once you are elected, are you going to celebrate that ‘I was elected by those thugs, but at least I’m elected’?” Manyoni said.

“What does this say about our political morality?”

Ahead of the court ruling, the Free State provincial conference was originally due to be held from December 1 to 3. In a statement issued on Thursday, Free State ANC provincial spokesperson Thabo Meeko said the party had resolved to abide by the court’s ruling and would instead hold its elective conference from December 6 to 8.

Speaking on behalf of the provincial leadership, he also lashed out at what he described as ill-discipline by Manyoni and his “unfortunate utterances of condoning the unbecoming behaviour of using outside institutions to resolve internal issues of the ANC”.

The conference’s postponement means that, next weekend, Manyoni and Free State Premier Ace Magashule are expected to go head-to- head for the position of provincial chairperson.

Their battle has been viewed as a proxy for the national leadership tussle between ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who Manyoni supports, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has Magashule’s backing.

Manyoni believes the court’s judgment bolsters his campaign, which he said calls for an urgent change of leadership.

“Of course this strengthens my campaign. I am basically saying to comrades: ‘If you are going to elect me, you must agree that ours is to ensure we bring a stop to all of this [irregular behaviour],’” he said.

Both factions have finalised their slates ahead of the provincial conference.

Manyoni’s camp wants former provincial secretary Sibongile Besani as his deputy, Dihelele Motsoeneng as secretary, Letsatsi Madia as deputy secretary and Mongi Ntwanambi as treasurer.

Magashule’s camp wants to retain the current leadership, with the exception of Manyoni. His slate includes William Bulwane as secretary, Mamiki Qabathe as deputy secretary and Mosebenzi Zwane as treasurer. 

Although it was widely expected that Zwane, a close ally of Magashule’s, would replace Manyoni, party insiders claim the two have fallen out in recent months.

Instead, Motheo regional secretary Paseka Nompondo has become the preferred candidate for deputy chairperson.

Ramaphosa supporters celebrated the court outcome after raising numerous concerns about rigged BGMs in the province.

“We feel vindicated because we have been saying for a long time that they were rigging processes.

“If processes were fair, we [the CR17 camp] would have definitely gotten more than 50% of the votes,” said one senior Ramaphosa lobbyist.