714 Free State Premier Ace Magashule talks to Independent Newspapers about his future plans and his first 3 months in his position as head of this province. 030809. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

The ANC task team set up to deal with violence in the run-up to the Free State party conference is set to return to the province on Monday.

The Free State ANC also expected to hear whether it had been granted an extension to hold its conference next month, said provincial spokesman William Bulwane. “We have requested an extension from the ANC NEC (national executive committee),” he confirmed.

This weekend’s ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting, near Pretoria, would have to agree that the Free State conference, like that of the Northern Cape, could be held after the deadline – the end of this month. Both provinces are now scheduled to hold their conferences in the second week of June.

The Free State has struggled to hold its regional conferences on schedule and violence had erupted at many branch meetings before regional gatherings. Tension emerged as Free State ANC chairman and Premier Ace Magashule faces a challenge from Mxolisi Dukwana, who was dumped as economic development MEC in a cabinet reshuffle in February.

Concerns over the violence and allegations of membership rigging led to the establishment of the task team under Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, who attended this weekend’s NEC meeting.

While Bulwane said steps already put in place to reduce violence were paying off, it appears that other problems have arisen.

The Fezile Dabi branch conference was held earlier this month, and reportedly endorsed by Magashule, even though the necessary membership audits had not been completed. Free State ANC secretary Sibongile Besani confirmed that the branch audit had not been completed, according to the Free State Times.

Meanwhile, the NEC was expected to endorse for release a discussion document on land.

The document was delayed, according to ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, because extensive research needed to be done “on why things have not gone the way we wanted them to”, including the willing buyer, willing seller principle and why in many instances redistributed land lay fallow.

The discussion document comes nine months after the Rural Development and Land Reform Ministry released its green paper on land reform and development.

It also comes a week after Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said during his budget speech that 11 pieces of legislation would be before Parliament, while development continues on 10 policy instruments, including one on communal land tenure and a rural development agency, premised on a rural co-operative bank.

Meanwhile, as part of its policy discussion documents, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA released one on rural and agricultural development this week. It points to falling rural wages and the harsh conditions faced by women. The discussion document says there has been insufficient investment in, among other things, irrigation and financial support, which had led to SA failing to take full advantage of export opportunities.

The Sunday Independent