Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Paul MashatilePicture: Boxer Ngwenya
Johannesburg - The ANC in Gauteng is hoping to stave off court challenges ahead of the party’s national conference in two weeks.

ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile admitted the party was “engulfed by an ever-deepening crisis” due to the intense leadership battle throughout the country, but said in Gauteng things were generally going well in the party's bid to find suitable leaders at its December conference.

Addressing ANC members at the party’s provincial general council in Irene, Mashatile said: “Allow me therefore to acknowledge the exemplary way that most of our branches conducted their branch general meetings.”

The meetings had been successful because members conducted themselves within the “rules and devoid of violence, intimidation and other malfeasances”, he said.

Mashatile thanked local party members after his provincial leadership was widely believed to have endorsed ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to replace the incumbent ANC president, Jacob Zuma.

 At the time of going to print, the ANC national elections committee had not released Gauteng's nominations.

ALSO READ: Gauteng ANC nominates Ramaphosa for party president

But according to Mashatile, ANC branch general meetings in the province were conducted in an orderly manner.

“We are proud of you and urge you to continue on this exemplary path that will contribute in no small measure to the successful convening of our national conference and the rebuilding of the ANC and the restoration of its values going forward,” he said.

Mashatile, however, admitted that there were some who allegedly tried to disrupt the nomination processes by either intimidating, threatening or even assaulting other members leading up to or during branch general meetings.

He warned “no one has a right to forment violence and anarchy and even disrupt ANC or any meeting for that matter", saying his provincial executive was due to take disciplinary action against culprits.

Unlike in other provinces, Gauteng allowed its members to engage in policy discussions the whole day yesterday ahead of the outcomes of their preferred candidates.

In the North West, proceedings had to be delayed for more than three hours on Friday following disputes over the credentials of members.

The North West ANC faces a challenge this week in the Mahikeng High Court, while ANC provincial leaders in KwaZulu-Natal await the outcome of their appeal against a court ruling which set aside the legitimacy of the 2015 elec- tive conference in the province. Other provinces hit by court challenges are the Northern Cape and Free State.

But in Gauteng, Mashatile was optimistic that the branch nomination processes had generally gone well.

“We can ill-afford that our national conference be remembered more for the wrong reasons as this might mean the end of the ANC.

"As I indicated, the majority of our branches nominated those that they believe will lead our movement with distinction and honour.

“The branches have spoken and we will be consolidating their voices over the next few days.

"Whilst respecting the will of our branches, we are alive to the fact that a number of candidates have been criss-crossing our country campaigning to be elected to lead the ANC at our upcoming national conference.”

Mashatile said it was unfortunate that what was meant to be an open and clean contest degenerated “into a fierce contestation that had the unintended consequence of further dividing the ANC".

“We saw some campaigns becoming personal and bordering on character assassinations, whilst money played a destructive role to influence the outcome of our branch general meetings.

“The ferocity of the campaign for positions in the national executive committee, including that of president of the ANC, points to the contest being dirty, destructive and devastating,” Mashatile said.

It was apparent that all factions within the ANC were going for broke, risking devastation of personalities and even the ANC itself, he said.

“The stakes are unacceptably high as we seem to be driven by the winner-take-all approach with no regard to what happens after the conference.

“Taking into cognisance all these shenanigans that characterise the various campaigns thus far, the questions that should be top of mind for ANC members are: will the ANC survive these internecine battles amongst its members?"

He further asked: “Will the all-out war against one another serve the purpose of extricating the ANC from the morass it is trapped in or will the conclusion of the upcoming national elective conference also mean the end of the ANC as we have come to know it?"

Sunday Independent