Cape Town - ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has played down the divisions, chaos and violence – including an assassination attempt – that marred a nominations process in which President Jacob Zuma has emerged as the clear leader in the contest for power at Mangaung.
The ruling party’s national working committee met on Sunday ahead of today’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in the wake of nomination conferences collapsing in three provinces.
Limpopo, the North West and the Western Cape failed to conclude their conferences by Friday’s cut-off date but were granted extensions. All three provinces harbour supporters of a change in the ANC’s top leadership.
But Mantashe said on Sunday: “On people with issues about the processes, there are no real matters. We have no reports of unhappiness.”
On Sunday Zuma said in Mgababa, south of Durban that reports of infighting within the ANC came from people who did not understand the organisation.
He also said that those who wanted leadership change should explain what was wrong within the organisation, Sapa reported.
Zuma has bagged an apparently decisive number of votes for his re-election as party boss from KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Free State, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.
But provincial conferences at the weekend were characterised by long delays, disputes over credentials, and violence, including the attempted assassination of North West ANC provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge.
A group of Zuma supporters disrupted the the Limpopo provincial conference, while in the bitterly divided North West parallel meetings were convened by Zuma backers and by those pushing for his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, pictured, to take over the reins instead.
In the Eastern Cape, some regions claimed that the rules had been violated at the provincial conference and complained about “thuggery”.
The disagreements could cast a shadow over the ANC’s 53rd national conference at Mangaung in two weeks’ time.
Mantashe said at least 80 percent of the party’s provinces and leagues had completed their nominations.
“We’ve completed nine conferences and the 10th is under way. That’s 10 out of 12 (the three leagues and nine provinces),” Mantashe said.
Eastern Cape ANC Youth League secretary Mziwonke Ndabeni said what happened at last week’s provincial conference was a sign of things to come in Mangaung.
He said the league and those calling for change had been disappointed by the outcome. Zuma won the presidential nomination by 392 votes to Motlanthe’s 211.
“We’re very disappointed, highly disappointed [in how the conference was convened],” Ndabeni said.
Independent Newspapers has seen a letter of complaint about alleged rule violations in the run-up to the vote.
But Eastern Cape provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said nominations for the top six posts and NEC members had run smoothly.
The youth league has been pushing for Motlanthe, who was backed by the small but influential Gauteng province.
Motlanthe’s chances look bleak, but the 4 500 delegates to the conference are not bound by their mandate and fierce lobbying is expected.