/ 24 August 2021

ANC member accused of instigating July unrest makes it to party’s candidate list

Safrica Unrest Politics Economy Vigilantes
Armed community members gather around a fire to keep warm at a road block set up in Phoenix Township, North Durban, on July 15, 2021 to prevent looters from reaching the community. - Armed community members and vigilante groups have stepped in to tackle unrest in South Africa, taking matters into their own hands and sometimes stoking violence as security forces struggle to restore order. Understaffed and heavily reliant on private security companies, the police was rapidly overwhelmed when riots and looting first flared last week in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), sparked by the jailing of graft-accused former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP)

One of the accused instigators of the July attempt at an insurrection that resulted in billions being destroyed or stolen has allegedly made it to the ANC’s list of council candidates submitted to the Electoral Commission of South Africa on Monday. 

In a letter seen by the Mail & Guardian, the Ahmed Timol branch 127 chairperson, Bhekizitha Radebe, and ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) branch secretary Nonhlanhla Madlala have written to ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte calling for her to investigate how Mboneni Tabane made it to the ANC list of candidate councillors. Tabane is the secretary of the branch. 

Tabane was arrested on 18 July and charged with incitement to commit public violence. His first court appearance was on 20 July, according to the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) Twitter page. 

The NPA’s account states that Tabane was “one of the alleged instigators of the recent violent unrest”. He was released on R5 000 bail by the Roodepoort magistrate’s court and the prosecutor did not oppose bail.

His bail conditions specify that he is not to interfere with state witnesses, he must report at Roodepoort police on Fridays between 8am and 8pm, he is not to leave Gauteng without permission from the investigating officer and he must hand over his passport. 

In a media briefing on Monday evening, Duarte said that all those facing court charges had been removed from the list. But Madlala told the Mail & Guardian that Tabane’s name slipped through the cracks. The ANC submitted at least 10 000 candidates to the IEC for this year’s local government elections. Almost half of those were new entrants, Duarte said. 

In the letter, Madlala and Radebe write that the unrest that gripped parts of Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng continue to have negative effects on the livelihood of South Africans and as the leader of society, the role of the organisation and its

leaders are paramount to ensuring peace and stability in the country. 

“We were left in shock and dismay when we learnt that Cde Tabane, secretary of the branch, was identified as an instigator of the unrest around the ward and Roodepoort surroundings. This has left many members of the organisation in the branch with seriously unanswered questions related to this matter. The organisation was brought into disrepute in an unimaginable way. We, as members of the ANC, have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the ANC in the broader society,” the letter reads. 

The two branch leaders told Duarte that they believe the ANC should provide guidance in this matter. 

Madlala said they had also contacted the ANC’s Johannesburg regional secretary, Dada Morero, but had received no response. 

Madlala said that even local residents were not happy with Tabane’s name and had voted to remove him from the list. 

“They selected five candidates to submit to the community without us. The branch meeting happened outside of our branch. There has been a lot of gatekeeping and people were removed from the database and the database was not fixed. We were very surprised and shocked that even after the community ruled him out he made it to the list as a ward candidate,” said Madlala. 

“We are very worried because the community is not happy. The community made their choice. They refused to vote for someone who is facing charges. We have complained to the ANC about this problem of gatekeeping, it’s the same thing that happened in 2016, this new membership system has changed very little. This is the only ward in zone 5 Roodepoort of the ANC that is run by the ANC. All the other seven wards are DA wards and we are going to lose this ward if we don’t address this problem.” 

The party’s candidate selection guidelines state that an electoral committee — headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe — will make rules and oversee the nomination and selection process, deal with appeals, and set up administrators, teams and panels to assist them.

Branches will nominate a maximum of six candidates for the proportional representation candidate lists to add capacity to drive development and represent the people of their areas.

The provincial executive committee may not remove and replace anyone on the list but may insert someone higher up the list if 80% support the move. The committee should formally adopt the list without changes, the electoral committee states. 

The ANC has been battling against time to resolve hundreds of disputes from branches, who have alleged gatekeeping in branch general meetings, which are charged with the selection of ward council candidates. 

In the Eastern Cape, party members camped outside Calata House claiming that they have been denied their democratic right to nominate and vote for their choice of ward candidates.

ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said some members claim the process has been manipulated or abused by “gate-keepers” to impose candidates of their choice and ignore the views of the citizens.

“Due to the seriousness of these allegations, the ANC Eastern Cape extended PEC [provincial executive committee] meeting resolved to appoint an investigation committee to investigate these allegations and if there are leaders of the ANC who deliberately manipulated the processes, the ANC wouldn’t hesitate to act harshly,” Ngcukayitobi said. 

The ANC’s new registration system has faced major hurdles, with branches complaining that some secretaries are trying to manipulate the system, resulting in several disqualifications.

In June the party’s national disputes committee head, Nomvula Mokonyane, told the M&G that  they have identified that members have attempted to manipulate the system. 

She said that in some cases, the identity documents of members who attend the branch general meetings and biennial meetings — meetings to elect branch executives committees and preferred candidates for regional conferences — are scanned more than once. 

As a result, hundreds of branch and biennial meetings have been disqualified and have had to be rerun. 

The new digital online system was introduced in 2019 to curb gatekeeping but some members have been denied membership as a result.

ANC meetings have degenerated to violence as members quarrelled over the candidate list. 

In June the ANC reported that two people were shot, and 16 others injured during meetings in Limpopo’s Waterberg region.The M&G also reported in the same month that 

five men with unlicensed weapons were arrested by police at Isipingo, south of Durban, allegedly while on their way to attack an ANC branch general meeting at Mkhambathini, near Pietermaritzburg. 

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe and Johannesburg regional secretary Dada Morero are still to comment.