File picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Port Elizabeth - African National Congress branches in Nelson Mandela Bay were told on Saturday to unite, that members and leaders should not weaken the party by fighting over positions and criticising other ANC leaders in public.

After much delay, ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa finally took to the podium on Saturday to address branches at the party's 5th regional elective conference at the Eastern Cape Training Centre in Zwide, Port Elizabeth, this weekend.

Kodwa called for unity and pleaded with members not to fight among one another.

"When an ANC member takes on another ANC member in public you are weakening the ANC. Leaders of the ANC must not attack leaders of the ANC, you are weakening the ANC," he said.

The last regional conference in Port Elizabeth took place during April 2012 and three years later the REC was disbanded after a long, bumpy road of factional battles and dwindling party membership numbers.

A regional task team (RTT) was appointed with a mandate to bring stability to the structures.

A total of 46 branches will now elect a new leadership which is expected to regain lost ground following the ANC being booted out of power in the metropole during the 2016 local government elections.

Kodwa encouraged members not to join in criticising in the name of ANC leaders where members attacked other leaders but ironically campaigned in T-shirts bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma.

"It's not only assisting the opposition but it's weakening the ANC," he said.

The ANC had learnt from its mistakes and in the 2019 general elections the party would reclaim Nelson Mandela Bay from the Democratic Alliance-led coalition government.

"But it depends on what we do; if we fight among ourselves that possibility may be impossible. It's natural for ANC members to have different views but you must accept that at the end there must be a decision. We must show our readiness to reclaim this metro and not fight over positions," he said. AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY