An ANC supporter holds a flag of the ANC while the President Jacob Zuma addresses ANC Gauteng Cadre Assembly in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Busloads of Western Cape delegates left the province for the ANC’s national conference in the Free State yesterday, where the ANC faces its first hurdle today – whether or not the Free State provincial executive committee can take up its 20 seats after the Constitutional Court nullified that province’s conference.

Western Cape ANC secretary

Songezo Mjongile confirmed that 171 voting delegates, including members of the provincial executive committee (PEC), would attend.

In the Free State, which has pushed for a second term for President Jacob Zuma, the 324 delegates from branches are not affected by yesterday’s ruling. The provincial conference in question took place in June, and saw Free State premier Ace Magashule re-elected as party chairman.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the Free State delegates had been legitimately elected at branch meetings, where the PEC had played no role.

“No-one will get that right (to attend national conference) from a court… The delegates of the Free State were not taken to court,” he said.

Centre for the Study of Democracy director Steven Friedman said the Constitutional Court case was more important for what it said about “the crisis in the governing party” than for its impact on the national conference.

For some time there had been claims of electoral unfairness and vote rigging, and now “the highest court of the land in effect agrees with that”, he said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the ANC electoral commission will announce candidates for the top six posts – from president to treasurer – only tomorrow, and nominations for the rest of the NEC later during the conference.

Zuma has remained silent on whether he will stand.

However, this week deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe said he would stand for all three positions for which he has been nominated - they are president, deputy president and NEC member.

His announcement followed those of ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who accepted their nominations for deputy president. Yesterday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said he would go up against Mantashe.

Tension within ANC ranks in the North West also ran high after Dr Kenneth Kaunda regional ANC chairman David Mosiane Chika was shot dead yesterday morning.

North West ANC secretary Kabelo Mataboge was also suspended in a meeting called to end the divisions, which saw two rival nomination conferences held this month, and a court challenge brought by disgruntled ANC members yesterday.

Mataboge was shot at earlier this month.

A court application brought by ANC members to stop North West delegates from travelling to Mangaung was still under way late yesterday.

In the Western Cape 99

delegates nominated Motlanthe to lead the party, while Zuma got 90 votes.

The pro-Zuma camp claim they have victory in the bag, but Motlanthe supporters have warned of a major upset.