Free State regions cry foul after dissolution by interim provincial committee

ANC regional chairpersons in the Free State asked deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte, to intervene after the interim provincial committee (IPC) dissolved the regions ahead of local government elections. 

In a letter seen by the Mail & Guardian and dated 20 September, the leaders, including newly elected Mangaung mayor Mxolisi Siyonzana, Lejweleputswa regional chairperson Nkosinjani Speelman, Kopanong local municipality mayor Xolile Mathwa and Tlokotsi Motaung from Thabo Mofutsanyana district municipality said the interim body was “wholly invalid and flawed and is, therefore, of no force and effect as it seeks to violate various decisions and resolutions of the duly empowered structures”. 

On Tuesday, following the publication of this article, Siyonzana told the M&G that he was not a signatory to any letter sent to Duarte adding that he accepted the decision of the ANC leadership. Siyonzana said he was shocked to have heard from the provincial leaders that he was a signatory to the letter challenging the decision to dissolve regions.

This comes after Duarte sent out a letter on 13 September instructing provincial secretaries to halt all provincial and regional conferences until the elections on 1 November.

This means all provincial and regional executive committees whose term of office expired after May should not be disbanded during the local government campaign, but rather have their terms extended. 

“The disbandment … is inevitably going to result in a vacuum in the political leadership of not only the regions, but the province as a whole … at the time of municipal elections when leadership is badly needed,” the regional leaders said in their letter.

“By way of finalising, we urge the NEC [national executive committee] to take steps to reverse the decision of the IPC. We reserve our rights to impugn the said decision in a court of competent jurisdiction, but felt that before we do so, we should supplicate for the highest structures of the ANC to intervene in the matter.”

Provincial co-ordinator Paseka Nompondo told the M&G that the regions would not be dissolved but merely reconfigured, adding that this would be announced to ANC branches on Monday evening.

“There is no dissolution of any structure,” Nompondo said.

During his report to the national executive committee last week in his capacity as head of the party’s elections committee, former president Kgalema Motlanthe said there had been a significant and satisfactory improvement on the candidate selection and dispute resolution in the province after Duarte and the elections committee’s intervention.

“The report indicates that 305 out of 319 wards in the Free State had selected and nominated ward candidates, which represent 96% of all the wards in this province,” he said.

“The report also indicates that there are 339 PR [proportional representation] candidates nominated and this represents 106% achievement. The Free State provincial list committee has processed and resolved 218 out of 268 disputes, which amount to 81% of all disputes lodged in the province,” Motlanthe said.

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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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