An ANC supporter holds a flag of the ANC while the President Jacob Zuma addresses ANC Gauteng Cadre Assembly in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Eastern Cape - ANC leaders in the Eastern Cape took control of the OR Tambo region after its regional conference was adjourned without any newly elected leadership, the party said on Tuesday.

“As things stand, there is no regional executive committee in the OR Tambo (region), hence the PEC (provincial executive committee), an upper structure in the region, is taking full charge of matters in that region,” provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said in a statement.

He said that according to the ANC's constitution and electoral laws the incumbent executive members ceased to hold office when they stood for election.

The conference was dogged by controversy after allegations emerged that some of the membership figures were inflated, and that there were several “ghost” delegates.

Qoboshiyane said the electoral commission at the conference discovered that votes were cast by 591 delegates, instead of the 587 adopted by the plenary on Monday.

The PEC adjourned the conference afterwards.

“We (had) observed serious difficulties during pre-conference...such as parallelism of structures, proof of high membership manipulation and fraud,” Qoboshiyane said.

“As things stand, we call on all the ANC members in the OR Tambo region to respect all ANC rules, policies and regulations.”

Eastern Cape ANC Youth League spokesman Nkosinathi Nomatiti said on Tuesday the PEC adjourned the conference because the vote did not go the way it had wanted it to.

“The PEC came out after counting the ballots, and said that they think some sort of fraud had taken place in the vote,” he said.

“They had a pre-determined outcome in mind, and when that outcome did not happen they came up with a lot of things to say. How can there be that fraud if they were involved in the process?”

Business Day reported that according to unnamed sources in the conference, as well as an SMS which circulated among delegates, regional chair Thandekile Sabisa, who was allegedly pushing for a change in the national leadership, defeated William Ngozi, who is allegedly part of a lobby group for President Jacob Zuma, by 296 votes to 295.

The outcome of the election would be integral to Zuma's bid to retain the leadership of the party at its national congress in Mangaung at the end of the year.

The region is the largest in the Eastern Cape, and the second largest ANC region in the country after eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal - Zuma's home province. - Sapa