Former Mpumalanga premier Mathews Phosa. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko/ANA

Johannesburg - Former ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Mathews Phosa has claimed that rigging of branch general meetings (BGMs) in Mpumalanga - his home province - has thwarted his party presidential ambitions.

The former Mpumalanga premier spoke to The Star on Wednesday, two days before the high court in Pretoria is set to hear his application to have the BGM process nullified. He claimed the process was rigged by the provincial leadership led by ANC provincial chairperson David Mabuza.

“In the next two days, the issues will be heard by the court. We are busy preparing,” he said.

The Mpumalanga ANC issued a statement on Wednesday stating that the process for the 54th national conference administered by the provincial executive committee (PEC) was credible, and free of violence and intimidation.

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“The PEC and the dispute committee of the national executive committee attended all disputes lodged, consistent with the guidelines of the 54th national conference. Mr Phosa, or those who he claims to represent, seem not to have properly read and understood the guidelines, and as a result did not submit a formal dispute with the PEC, and chose to submit it on eNCA and SABC news and in the courts.

“The PEC is confident that the process of the BGMs we ran was meticulous and can pass any legal test,” the statement said.

Phosa said the provincial branches had elected 408 delegates to vote for him at the national conference. But the ANC’s Mpumalanga spokesperson, Zwelo Masilela, disputed the figures, saying Phosa had “received zero nominations”.

On Tuesday, Phosa appeared on eNCA and said a group of men linked to Mabuza had fired bullets in the air during a BGM to intimidate ANC members. He said the “Mabuza army” had been dispatched across the province to disrupt BGMs in branches that did not support Mabuza.

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“Everybody is raising similar issues throughout the country,” Phosa pointed out.

He claimed 70 BGMs had been rigged, and that the NEC had ignored his complaint. He said that at some branches, people emerged as delegates without having been nominated at BGMs.

“People were made to fill in the delegate forms at home. It is a crisis,” Phosa said.

The Star