ANC provincial secretary Zamani Saul (left) and ANC media liaison officer Naledi Gaosekwe. Seventeen branches in the Northern Cape will be excluded from the ANC Provincial elective conference, if they do not reach consensus by Wednesday. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Kimberley - Seventeen branches in the Northern Cape will be excluded from the ANC Provincial elective conference, if they do not reach consensus by Wednesday, on the same day that delegates arrive in Colesberg to register and book in to elect the new provincial leadership.

ANC provincial secretary, Zamani Saul, said that there were nine branches in the Frances Baard district and eight branches in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district that needed to conclude nomination meetings before the deadline.

“We are not giving them notice, we are giving them an ultimatum. The 31 branches that needed to reconvene were given a notice of four weeks. Some branches tried three times to reach a quorum but have not succeeded. If they do not reconvene their branch general meetings to nominate their delegates, they will be disqualified and will forfeit their right to participate in the conference.”

He stated that they did not expect any incidents of violence or disruptions.

“Members cannot cry foul if the outcome is not in their favour. It does not give anyone the right to disrupt the conference. All complaints were adequately dealt with. No one can say that we never listened to them. We will not allow anyone to disrupt the conference or abuse delegates. Delegates will be allowed to vote for their leader of choice."

“People who claim that delegates were handpicked are trying to discredit the process.”

Meanwhile a group of supporters, who are backing Premier Sylvia Lucas for incoming ANC provincial chairperson, gathered outside Luthuli House on Tuesday, seeking an audience with the party’s top structure.

ANC sources stated that, among the complaints that members wanted to raise was the exclusion of members of good standing from the Provincial database and that ANC members were forced to heckle President Jacob Zuma in Bloemfontein during the May Day rally.

“We want to inform Zuma that we were not booing him. The ANC provincial elective conference is being bankrolled by business people and not the ANC,” they claimed.

ANC members who want to prevent the conference from taking place said that the interdict application was still pending.

“We will not go down without a fight. We refuse to hand over the conference to (Zamani) Saul, who is contesting the position of ANC provincial chairman, on a golden platter. We sent the lawyer’s letters to the provincial office without receiving any response. If the conference goes ahead, the interdict will be served.”

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has received Saul’s support, will be delivering the keynote address in Colesberg on Thursday while addresses will be made by the ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League, ANC Veterans League, Cosatu, SACP and Sanco.

Saul on Tuesday said that he predicted no problems during the conference.

“All systems are in place and service providers, including the caterers, have been paid. The tent in which the conference will take place has been set up and will be handed over by the contractors today. About 85 percent of the delegates have been pre-registered. As Colesberg is a small town there have been some logistical problems such as arranging a venue that is big enough to accommodate us, as the ANC has grown in numbers.”

He stated that 4 000 beds had been reserved in Colesberg by the ANC for the conference.

Saul added that special security features had been incorporated into delegates’ tags.

“It is close to impossible to duplicate the access cards.”

He pointed out that while the contestation battle had naturally brought about strain on the unity of the party, it was the responsibility of the party to manage and mitigate any divisions that may arise.

“It is all about who is the best candidate to lead the party. Without contestation, there is no leadership.It is not the time to pull out knives and fight each other with force. It has been a time of intensive engagement where members have been allowed to raise their different perspectives. Nothing is cast in stone.”

Other ANC members pointed out that no one had a birth right to claim the leadership of the party.

“The 2007 ANC conference in Moshwaneng was also filled with tensions, typified by a heavy police presence and private security and personal bodyguards. After all was said and done, we returned to our miserable lives and the world did not end. This conference will come and go and it won’t be any different.”

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