Zamani Saul, ANC provincia secretary has denied that there are any factions within the province during a press conference. Picture: Soraya Crowie/DFA

Kimberley - The ANC provincial elective conference has been postponed for the third time this month, although this time no date has been provided as to when it will reconvene.

The conference, which was scheduled to take place in Colesberg, cannot proceed until the outcome of an audit report into complaints regarding the verification process is released by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

While ANC provincial secretary Zamani Saul was wary of providing a new date, he pointed out that there was no deadline as to when the conference had to be concluded.

“We are expecting the report from the secretary general next week and we would normally give branches one week to reconvene their meetings, if necessary,” said Saul. He stressed that there was “no crisis”.

“All these processes are normal organisational processes and there is nothing extraordinary or unusual about them. There is no apocalypse that will accompany this conference.”

Saul pointed out that apart from a few isolated incidents where violence was used to disrupt branch general meetings, the majority of the nomination branch general meetings (BGMs) in the Province went off smoothly.

Saul said that preparations for the 8th provincial conference started in November last year.

“Auditing of all ANC branches took place in November, December and early January this year."

“Of the 183 branches that passed the audit, 179 convened nomination branch general meetings. The closing date for convening of nomination BGMs was February 20. The verification process, which includes attending to disputes, was expected to take place soon after that date.”

He explained that complaints had been lodged by members supporting himself as well as those supporting Premier Sylvia Lucas to be elected as the ANC provincial chairperson.

“I do not know of branches who have lodged complaints I only know of individuals. It is the nature of any contestation. If anyone has proof of the manipulation of data, let them forward it to the task team.”

Saul indicated that no individual was guaranteed any leadership position.

“This is an open season for engagement in the ANC, and there should be robust exchange of ideas by ANC members on the kind of leadership that the ANC needs at this stage of our revolution. None of us have a birthright to be elected. ANC structures have the sovereign right to decide who will occupy the contested positions.”

He added that the task team from the secretary general’s office, which was responsible for verification and dispute resolutions, had only arrived in the Province on March 6.

“They were given two weeks to complete their work. Since their arrival the team has visited all five regions in the Province, meeting with the complainants and the leadership of the affected branches. Despite some delays, the team is still hard at work and progressing quite well.”

Saul denied that any region had been disqualified during the audit process.

“We are still waiting for the final audit report.”

Saul stated that delays in the verification process and attending to disputes had adversely affected their time frames.

“We have full confidence in the work of the team and we are also impressed with the progress that the team has made.”

He urged members to be patient and allow the task team time to execute its mandate.

“We implore all the comrades that are called to appear before the task team to give their maximum cooperation. As soon as the task team has submitted their report to the secretary general’s office on their findings, the Province can make final announcements on the date of the conference.”

Saul added that they, along with members from Luthuli House, would investigate the origins of a fake letter that was circulated on social media that makes references to discrepancies detected in the preliminary findings on the audit and verification of BGMs in the Province.

The letter, which bears the signature of secretary general Mantashe and the ANC logo, indicates that the National Executive Committee (NEC) was considering suspending or dissolving the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC).

The reasons cited in the letter include unattended disputes, the manipulation of processes, use of thugs to influence the branches and the inability of the provincial secretary to take resolutions that reflect the views of the majority.

Saul dismissed the letter as being the “product of fraud”.

“It is of utmost disrespect to the office of the secretary general. We understand this unbecoming behaviour as part of the desperate measures employed by those people who don’t want the elective conference to take place. We urge all our members not to get distracted by these silly and empty tactics.”

“There is no apocalypse that will accompany this conference.”