The impasse in the ANC over former president Jacob Zuma’s removal from office, and the fightback by his supporters, has derailed the governing party’s process of electing new leadership in several provinces.
New leadership needs to be elected in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, where provincial elective conferences were declared unlawful by the courts last year. Replacements also need to be elected for ANC deputy president David Mabuza and treasurer Paul Mashatile in their respective provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng, while branches in North West also need to go to congress.
With the party’s national leadership ‘’seized’’ with negotiating Zuma’s exit for the past two weeks, the provincial task teams in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State have been bogged down in a battle over their composition.
In both provinces, the neutrality of the teams appointed by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule has been challenged on the grounds that the teams are made up of leaders with a vested interest in the outcome of the conferences, set to be held within three months.
Supporters of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa claim both the teams are loaded with leaders loyal to Zuma and failed presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in a bid to manipulate the outcomes.
In the Free State supporters of the leaders of both factions, Thabo Manyoni and Mathabo Leeto, were in agreement that the PTT in the province needed to be reconstituted.
Both sides have asked the national executive committee (NEC) to review the composition of the structure, which they believe is made up of the same provincial executive committee (PEC) that was disbanded by the court.
The PTT is coordinated by former secretary William Bulwane and convened by former deputy chairperson Paseka Nompondo. Both are allies of Magashule.
“Legally and constitutionally speaking there is nothing wrong with it, but the agreement was that the people who would become the convenor and coordinator would not be people from the Free State they would be people from far outside who are neutral,” said Manyoni supporter Raymond Sibambani.
Fezile Sonkwala, a supporter of Leeto’s, said her camp also wanted the structure reconstituted to have Leeto as a member of the PTT.
“As branches who support her we feel that interim structure lacks diversity and credibility because it’s simply a replica of the same PEC that was disbanded. So we urge the NEC to disband that interim structure,” he said.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the already contested process has been further complicated by the arrest of the Ramaphosa’s faction’s preferred candidate as chair and task team convener Mike Mabuyakhulu over alleged corruption while he was economic development PEC in the province.
Before Mabuyakhulu’s arrest the process had already bogged down, with Lawrence Dube, the ANC Vryheid councillor who brought the court action that removed former chairperson Sihle Zikalala from office, writing to the NEC asking that the team be reconstituted.
The task team has battled to address ANC branches and sub-regions, with leaders including former secretary Super Zuma being chased away by angry members who were not willing to be addressed by him without NEC members being present.
Dube said this week that they had expected the NEC to replace the existing team in the province with members of the NEC and the Veterans League and were anticipating a decision ‘’soon.’’
Dube said they had also asked that the three-month window period to hold conference be extended to allow for a proper branch audit to prevent delegate fraud, which he described as ‘’very widespread.’’
Zikalala told a media briefing on Thursday however that the PTT was ‘’working well’’ and that Mabuyakhulu was continuing as convener.
He said the PTT was busy with preparations for the provincial conference, the date of which would be confirmed in the near future.
On Wednesday the ANC’s Limpopo leadership announced that its provincial conference, due to be held at the end of this month, had been postponed until the end of April.
Limpopo ANC secretary Nocks Seabi said the delay was to allow for an audit of branches that sent delegates to the national conference in December.
‘Seabi said that unless each branch was allowed to be ‘’cleared’’ of allegations that bogus delegates were sent to conference, ‘’they will remain an albatross over the term of this outgoing PEC.’’
The province had appointed a team led by Limpopo’s Veterans League to audit the branches by the middle of March, with the rest of the conference preparations taking place thereafter.
‘’Our view is that such a resolution will eliminate the unnecessary finger pointing and accusations with regard to our process of managing that nominations and voting process,’’ Seabi said.