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ANC secretaries called to Luthuli House to double-check the candidate list

As threats of court action mount and ongoing violence derail the ANC’s candidate selection process for the second time, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte is taking extra caution to ensure the party registers the correct candidates with the electoral commission of South Africa (IEC). 

In a communique sent to provincial secretaries and provincial coordinators, Duarte ordered that each of them come to the party headquarters at Luthuli House to “sit with the registration teams and go over their lists”.

As of Wednesday 15 September, Duarte states that all secretaries and coordinators in each province or their designated representative must go over each list from 8.30am until 6pm as agreed in the secretariat forum. 

The secretaries invited to Luthuli House on Wednesday are from the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga. 

Secretaries from Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape will be at the headquarters on Thursday and on Friday, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape secretaries will take their turn at inspecting their council candidates. 

The move comes after the ANC bungled its registration with the IEC when it failed to submit candidates in 93 municipalities for the local government elections that were initially scheduled for 27 October. 

On Monday, 11 September, the IEC announced that it would reopen the registration of candidates. This comes after the constitutional court rejected the commission’s application to postpone the local government elections to February on the grounds that the Covid-19 pandemic would render it not free and fair. 

The elections will happen on 1 November and the IEC may now hold voter registration drives, which will happen on 18 and 19 September. Party candidates may still be registered on 20 and 21 September.

The provincial list committee ordered the North West interim provincial committee, headed by Hlomane Chauke, to re-run its candidate selection process, which has been at odds with the interim structure. 

Chauke, in a letter seen by the Mail & Guardian, rejected the order saying that because of time constraints this was not possible. 

Speaking to the M&G on Monday, Chauke said the call was made after some regions and branches intended to manipulate the council candidate selection. 

He said the province had failed to meet the 11 September deadline to resubmit its list to Luthuli House and asked for an extension from Duarte of two days. 

Blame for the mishap, which could have seen the ANC losing control of over 30 municipalities, was directed at provincial secretaries and the secretary general’s office now in Duarte’s hands. 

The ANC also failed to pay its IEC deposits for a significant number of its council candidates. This, coupled with the recent strike action by its staff, landed the party in hot water. The party has failed to pay salaries for more than three months and, for the past 18 months, provident funds have not been paid.

Party treasurer general Paul Mashatile is said to have paid the first trench of staff salaries to junior staff after the party embarked on a crowdfunding initiative. One ANC staff member said the strike was continuing, adding that at least 70 staff members in Luthuli House alone had not been paid. 

The debacle over salaries could mean the party might yet again not meet a candidate list submission deadline. 

Staff members are planning to hold a meeting on Wednesday after a meeting with management to discuss their next step, a senior staff member said. 

KwaZulu-Natal provincial leaders want a heightened police presence in areas it has identified as hotspots to try to prevent an escalation of political violence linked to the party’s candidates list.

The party will also postpone political activities in areas where threats of attack are detected, after three women were killed in a drive-by shooting at an ANC meeting in Inanda’s Newtown C in north Durban on Saturday night.

Five other people were injured in the attack on the meeting at the Buhlebethu Primary School, called to elect an ANC ward candidate. 

The shootings — and other incidents of violence at ANC branch meetings in KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend  — have sparked fears of a repeat of the wave of killings that took place before and during the ANC candidate election process in the province in 2016.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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