ANC branches loyal to corruption-charged party leaders are nominating them for leadership positions at branch general meetings in defiance of the step-aside guidelines and as the 1 May deadline for their implementation approaches.
The nominations are part of a fightback by supporters of the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) faction leaders facing corruption charges — among them secretary general Ace Magashule — who have until the weekend to step aside or face suspension.
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe has cautioned branches from being “blindly” loyal to leaders affected by the step-aside resolution and warned them not to take the Samson option of destroying the ANC for an individual.
“It’s religious loyalty to us as individual leaders, which does happen to an organisation as big as the ANC.”
Not mincing his words, Mantashe said the ANC had “volumes of examples to look at to deal with a rebellion”.
Despite Mantashe’s warning branches in at least four provinces — Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State — plan to continue nominating corruption-charged leaders.
This week two ANC branches in the eThekwini region — Ward 28 and Ward 107 — nominated former chairperson Zandile Gumede, who is out on bail, to stand as its chairperson when its regional conference sits later in the year.
The branches also nominated other councillors who have also been arrested in connection with the R400-million Durban Solid Waste tender to stand for the regional executive committee. Their slate, headed by Gumede, includes RET leaders Thembo Ntuli, Musa Nciki and Nkosenhle Madlala, and councillor Zoe Shabalala, who is also charged in connection with the solid waste tender.
Five branches — Ward 16, Ward 63, Ward 66, Ward 32 and Ward 96 — nominated her opponent, Thabani Nyawose, as regional chairperson. He coordinated the eThekwini leg of the campaign to elect Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president in 2017.
Several other branches made nominations, but they were not confirmed because of disputes. These have been referred to the regional task team for resolution.
The branch general meetings are part of the build-up to the regional and provincial conferences, which will elect leaders going into the local government elections on 27 October.
Ntando Khuzwayo, the spokesperson for the branches backing Gumede, confirmed that Ward 107, at Inanda, where Gumede lives, and the Durban central business district branch Ward 28, which he chairs, had nominated her, Shabalala and other accused councillors.
“We have nominated Mam Gumede and other comrades [facing charges]. From where we stand, we have not been given direction as to who we can or cannot nominate, so we have gone ahead and nominated them,” Khuzwayo said.
“We haven’t had any direction whatsoever as to who needs to step aside or who doesn’t. We have heard there was a list that was submitted [to ANC headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg], but what impact it has on the branch nomination process, we are not sure. Nobody seems to know what to do, from the province to the region.”
Khuzwayo said it would be a “double jeopardy” for people told to step aside to be prevented from standing for election because this would create a “predetermined outcome” at the conferences.
“If people are asked to stand aside now, that cannot be allowed to prevent them from participating in ANC elective processes. That would be prejudicial, as we don’t know what will be the outcome of these cases.”
ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said they were not aware of who had been nominated at the branch general meetings, which were being held daily. The eThekwini region has 111 branches, one per city ward.
Ntombela said the national executive committee (NEC) would provide clarity on how to handle such nominations after its next meeting.
“If they have been nominated, after the NEC meeting, a clear message will be communicated as to whether or not charged persons who have been nominated will be eligible to stand at the forthcoming conferences,” Ntombela said.