E Cape ANC warns of ‘crisis’ if top brass is ousted

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has been backed into a corner and forced to endorse last year’s election of Eastern Cape chair Oscar Mabuyane and his team, because nullifying the result could plunge the party’s national leadership into crisis, provincial leaders have told the Mail & Guardian.

This weekend’s NEC meeting is expected to decide whether its deployees made the right call by allowing September’s Eastern Cape ANC conference to continue after delegates started pelting each other with chairs and the former chairperson and deputy were hospitalised.

A report by the task team, headed by Sbu Ndebele, has been completed and will be discussed when the meeting starts on Friday. A preliminary version of Ndebele’s report recommends dissolving the provincial executive committee (PEC) and setting up a task team to rerun the conference. But the report was rejected by Mabuyane’s leadership team.

Eastern Cape ANC regional secretary Lulama Ngcukaitobi said this week that the new PEC would respect whatever decision the NEC made. But he said the decision would have far-reaching consequences.

“It’s a matter of fact that, if the provincial conference is challenged and the NEC decides to disband the PEC, they are altering the processes of the national conference because there were 27 delegates [from Mabuyane’s PEC] who voted at national conference,” Ngcukaitobi said.

The party secretary of the Sarah Baartman region, Scara Njadayi, said the fact that Mabuyane and his new leadership had participated in the ANC’s national conference made the matter more delicate.

“If you don’t recognise the leadership you will plunge the NEC into crisis, because it will have a direct impact on the credentials of the national conference,” he said. “Worse is that you subject the second-biggest province into that quagmire and we are heading into the [2019] elections.”

The NEC’s debate on Ndebele’s report will be preceded by another court challenge to the provincial conference. Branch members from Amathole and Joe Gqabi regions who lost their bid to nullify the conference in the high court last year have gone to the Constitutional Court to appeal the judgment.

Ngcukaitobi said: “It’s completely bizarre to go to court. Our understanding is that it seeks to intimidate the NEC to take a particular viewpoint based on the fact that the NEC is going to sit this weekend. Now they are trying to pre-empt that NEC [meeting].”

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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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