JOHANNESBURG, December 4 – ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Monday swept away questions over the legitimacy of the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) in the Free State, led by Ace Magashule as chairman, and insisted it would take part in the party’s upcoming national elective conference.
The provincial leadership’s term came to an end in May, and numerous attempts to elect new leaders failed.
But Mantashe said the Free State provincial structure should not placed in the same category as ”medicine that has reached its sell-by date”.
”It is not an illegitimate PEC… it is doing the work of the ANC and also complies with that court order, that court order did not instruct the dissolution of the Free State PEC… it merely extends [its] term for it to hold a provincial conference.
”The PEC will come to the conference… it has not been dissolved. We are not dealing with some medicine with a manufacturing date and an expiry date. That province is preparing for conference.”
Magashule’s woes were worsened by ruling by the Bloemfontein High Court last week that the ANC branches convened ahead of the national conference were unconstitutional, unlawful and irregular.
The ruling further rendered the Provincial General Council (PGC) outcome nominating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma over the weekend as their preferred leader null and void, as the decision emanated from irregularly constituted branches.
The provincial conference that was planned after the PGC over the weekend was further declared invalid unless the several irregularly constituted branches were re-run.
The disgruntled members argued that the PEC did not have the authority to take decisions and requested the NEC to appoint an interim team to lead the province until the December national conference.
Over a hundred delegates, mainly supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, boycotted the PGC. They included Magashule’s ally turned foe, Thabo Manyoni.
Earlier on Monday, The African National Congress (ANC) announced its national executive committee (NEC) had resolved that all disputed branch general meetings be re-run as the party’s much awaited elective conference draws nearer.
Secretary General Gwede Mantashe added that the party’s top brass might hold a special NEC meeting on the eve of the conference to “tie up loose ends”.
“There were processes. Vetting was given and the branches have until Saturday to reconvene meetings,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg after an NEC meeting held over the weekend.
The party’s upcoming 54th national conference has been marred by court challenges and allegations of branch membership manipulation. Provincial leadership in provinces including the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape faced court challenges by disgruntled ANC members.
The latest court challenge is from presidential hopeful Matthews Phosa, who reportedly wants the Mpumalanga executive committee dissolved over branch nomination disputes.
Phosa is also not happy with Mpumalanga’s unity ticket ahead of the conference, which saw the provincial general council (PGC) opting not to choose a preferred leader on Friday.
Mantashe said Phosa’s court action can only serve ”instant satisfaction” for him.
”A PGC is not an election, it is a structure that nominates candidates…not unless comrade Phosa says those nominations written ‘unity’ be changed into ‘Matthew Phosa’. Unless, again, if he wants the court to put his name on those ballot boxes, all we can say is just wish him good…because once nominations are completed, there will be elections,” he said.
He added that there was no candidate called ”unity”.
Despite the disputes at provinces and branches, the ANC believed that it would hold a successful conference from December 16 to 20.
”We have a national conference that is going ahead and we will not make assumptions on what could happen or not. We run an organisation and are working very hard to make sure that the conference is successful and stable…anarchists should be dealt with by provinces, if an anarchist is [at] the conference, the first line of defence should be your province…if they do not, we will take you out of the conference.”
Mantashe said President Jacob Zuma, as the outgoing ANC president, delivered a political overview to the last official NEC meeting during his term. Zuma spoke at the meeting in a ”fatherly tone” and addressed himself as ”outgoing president”, he said.
– African News Agency (ANA)