DURBAN - The ANC’s 55th elective conference may be a long way off, but the groundwork for the conference has already begun with president Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction allegedly campaigning to disband the ANC Women’s League and replace it with a National Task Team (NTT).
A high-ranking ANC official told the Daily News that the ANC National Working Committee (NWC) was considering disbanding the Women’s League because it was seen to be rebelling against Ramaphosa and his faction within the Women’s League.
The senior ANC leader hinted that this was because Women’s League president, Bathabile Dlamini, was pushing for a women president to lead the ruling party and contest the 2024 general elections.
“In the recent NWC meeting, we were shocked when they discussed the issue of the Women’s League when it was not even on the agenda. However, some time last October we were informed about disbanding the NEC of the Women’s League. We were informed that one of the ministers close to Ramaphosa was going around collecting names of women that will be in the NTT.
“The ANCWL is one of the structures that were visible during Covid-19 and had programmes when all other structures were nowhere to be found. In August 2020 the ANCWL was supposed to go to a conference. However, this could not happen due to lockdown restrictions. In 2021 we were instructed to prepare and audit branches so we can launch, but the pandemic disrupted everything,” said the source.
Another ANCWL NEC member, whose identity cannot be revealed for fear of victimisation, said the league was being targeted because it was firmly opposed to factional battles, and refused to support “bullies with ambitions to lead the liberation movement and ensure it never wins the next general elections”.
“They are trying to neutralise the Women’s League. Maybe they think we may not support their ambitions … in any case, we never pronounced any names because we don’t just wake up and support people without proper consultations with our branches.”
She said the issue of disbanding the ANCWL was not in the report but came up during the last ANC NWC meeting, making it clear that it was well planned and co-ordinated.
She also accused Angie Motshekga of creating a hostile environment and sowing division within the ANC Women’s League.
“Last week we were supposed to have a meeting of the NEC, but it was postponed without consultations with the leadership and the president of the Women’s League. Instead, high-ranking NEC members of the Women’s League held a meeting and they decided that president Dlamini must step aside.”
In response, Dlamini told the publication that the league would have a discussion and send a report to the ANC NWC for consideration.
Contacted for comment, Motshekga denied having chaired the meeting that conspired to remove Dlamini.
“I am sorry but I am not keen to respond to your story and want to categorically deny that I chaired the meeting,” she said.
Senior member of the NEC and the ANC NWC, Lindiwe Sisulu, said that disbanding the Women’s League was not on the ANC’s agenda and it was not mentioned while she was at the meeting.
“I had a prior commitment to open the Africa Tourism Conference. I did not anticipate that it would be discussed, since it was not on the agenda.
“It will be important for anybody who is proposing that the Women’s League be disbanded to take note of history. There was a time when the ANC wanted to disband the ANCWL because it did not like its former president, Winnie Mandela. But the ANC learnt from the powers of the ANCWL from there and I hope that the lesson remained in their minds, especially men who are at the forefront of this.”
Sisulu said the ANC went to great lengths to follow the only avenue available to it and persuaded eight women to resign in the hope that the executive did not meet the quorum, but this did not work.
“The Women’s League have great resilience, the kind of resilience only women have. The only way in which the ANCWL can be disbanded is by the women themselves,” said Sisulu.
National spokesperson of the ANC, Pule Mabe, said that the publication should not rely on sources but should rather read the ANC NWC’s report.
Last week, the ANC NWC said that the NEC of the ANC Women’s League and the National Youth Task Team of the ANC Youth League had also expired.
It requested the secretary-general’s office to report and make recommendations.