Faiez Jacobs
Cape Town - ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to officially open the party’s provincial leadership race on Sunday but the ANC’s rural caucus in the province is already looking to elevate its leaders to top provincial posts.

Ramaphosa, along with the rest of the ANC Top Six, is set to kick off former President Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebrations at the Grand Parade at noon on Sunday. The ANC Western Cape’s chair remains vacant after Marius Fransman was axed for bringing the party into disrepute following accusations of sexual misconduct in 2016. The rural caucus says it intends actively campaigning for key positions in the province’s next leadership structure.

Although there are no formal slates, names that have been mentioned as possible candidates include some familiar figures like former Western Cape premier and SA ambassador to the US Ebrahim Rasool, Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha, Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi and members of the provincial legislature Cameron Dugmore and Richard Dyantyi. The Weekend Argus is in possession of a leaked candidate list, which has Dugmore in the position of chair.

Dugmore, a former MEC, confirmed he was standing but distanced himself from the list, saying it would fan factionalism in the provincial ANC. “Members of the ANC, who approached me to make myself available, have indicated that I would bring energy, experience and the ability not only to unite the ANC across traditional divides, but also be well-placed to ensure that we play our role as an effective opposition in the legislature,” he said.

Cameron Dugmore
Cameron Dugmore

Dugmore said the ANC had a unique opportunity to discuss the chair vacancy as most of the regions were due for regional conferences within the next two months.

Dugmore said that while he would not officially campaign until branches made pronouncements, he saw an opportunity for the ANC to look at uniting and rebuilding in the province. “And if branches feel I can play that role, I’d be willing to take that confidence and make the ANC (in the province) competitive again.”

Asked whether his racial identity could scupper his leadership ambitions, Dugmore said: “At the end of the day, it’s really up to the members and the branches to decide whether they believe that a comrade classified as white, coloured or African is in a position to lead, but I think that is a choice the branches need to make. “You would know very well the ANC has a strong non-racial tradition for leaders from all communities, genders and faiths.”

Dugmore said the party would have to have an inclusive leadership in the province.

Ousted by the ANC in the wake of the “brown envelopes” debacle in 2008, Rasool’s name has been ringing out among ANC members. A coy Rasool would not categorically indicate his interest in the position.

“I think people remember who last won the Western Cape. That’s the context in which my name would have come up.”

Ebrahim Rasool
Ebrahim Rasool

Asked whether he would accept a formal nomination, he said: “I’m not too sure. I haven’t been asked so there is no answer to give. To be honest, I’ll think about it when there is a declared (provincial) conference. Until that moment, there is nothing to consider.”

Rasool said that should this happen, he would consult his family. He said the next provincial leadership should focus on exposing the DA as “unqualified” to run the province, citing the water crisis as an example.

“I think that one would want the ANC to win over the province. Whether I can play a role in that, that’s for the members to decide.”

Skwatsha said he was waiting for a formal nomination before he could make a pronouncement. “I’ve been hearing about my name,” he said. Skwatsha explained that Faiez Jacobs, provincial secretary, would announce dates to party members.

He said he had heard that the provincial general council and the subsequent elective conference would be held in May. “When the dates (for the provincial general council and the elective conference) have been set, the branches will start speaking formally.”

Mcebisi Skwatsha
Mcebisi Skwatsha

Skwatsha said that between now and May, there would not be enough time for candidates to lobby other members. “We will need enough time so that branches can make their nominations and tell us who they’ve nominated. This would allow candidates to accept or decline nominations.”

He said the next provincial leadership in the ANC would have to be humble and sworn servants of the people to topple the DA. Skwatsha stressed the importance of unity, but added that factions were to be expected leading up to a conference. He said if he was to become the chairperson, he would include the rural caucus in the provincial leadership.

Dyantyi, who was deployed to organise this weekend’s rally, said he would only comment after the weekend.

Jacobs urged members not to focus on lists and be preoccupied by positions ahead of the provincial elective conference.

Weekend Argus