Chaos spells gloom at Mangaung

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The African National Congress chooses its leaders on the basis of the work they do and not because they make news headlines, the ANC's KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairman Zweli Mkhize said.

Free State - The drama and allegations of vote-rigging that marked some of the ANC’s provincial nominations conferences are likely to see a replay at Mangaung and could cast a shadow over its proceedings, analysts and party members have said.

Policy discussions could take a back seat when the 4 500 delegates gather at the University of the Free State from December 16 for the ANC’s national conference, during a new leadership is to be elected.

“I think there is a possibility that things will spill over into Mangaung. The reason credentials are an issue is that you can manage who gets to vote and influence the outcome,” said political analyst Ralph Mathekga.

Nominations conferences in the Eastern and Western Cape, Limpopo and the North West were beset by delays, violence and disputes over who was allowed to vote.

In the Eastern Cape, members of the regional executive committee who, in terms of the guidelines, have no voting power at ANC conferences, were allowed to vote, leading to allegations of vote-rigging and fraud. The conference also saw 50 PEC members becoming voting delegates, although only 20 will be eligible to vote in Mangaung later this month.

In Limpopo, which eventually nominated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday, the conference had been postponed following disruptions, with some members accusing the provincial leadership of using bogus delegates.

On Wednesday evening, some people were arrested when they tried to force their way into the conference venue.

Mathekga said there was a widely held view in the ANC that “if you’re not going to rig credentials, someone else will do it”.

“There are members who don’t believe in the process and it runs so deep that one can usually pre-empt these things. If these things can’t be sorted out at the level of provincial general councils, you can’t rule it out [at Mangaung],” said Mathekga.

He said ANC leaders, such as secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, were “extraordinarily conflicted” by being on a slate connected with one faction.

“Gwede is the chief administrator of the party and everyone knows he has the final say in terms of which… branches can attend. That he belongs to a slate makes matters worse,” said Mathekga.

He said policy would also take a knock as divisions in the party “can’t reconcile to clear policy positions”.

Mziwonke Ndabeni, secretary of the ANC Youth League in the Eastern Cape, alleged after that province’s conference that the entire process was flawed. “This is a sign of things to come.”

Political analyst Professor Susan Booysen said the “odds are this will be part of the baggage going into Mangaung”.

“It’s been coming a long way, since the middle of the year, with the provincial electoral congresses, like in the Free State, with alleged irregularities,” said Booysen.

Task teams from Luthuli House had to be dispatched to places like the Free State to put out some of the fires.

“Mantashe will try to wave his magic wand, but he is conflicted and part of the… dominant faction,” said Booysen.

On policy, she said it was almost a “euphemism” to say policy discussions would take a back seat.

“The most disconcerting thing for the ANC is the convergence of low policy output. One could expect that at best it could have come up at branches and provinces as a supplementary discussion,” said Booysen.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu could not be reached for comment on Thursday, but said earlier this week that all those nominated would be approached next week by the party’s internal election commission to state whether they accepted their nomination.

The ANC would then issue a statement.

Western Cape provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile, who had to manage the province’s delayed nominations conference on Wednesday, said he hoped things would be sorted out by the time delegates got to Mangaung.

“If not, this could have dire consequences for the organisation. I can’t predict what will happen.” - Pretoria News


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