ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has warned the newly-elected Eastern Cape ANC chairperson Oscar Mabuyane and his slate against purging those that challenged them for leadership of the organisation in the province.
Ramaphosa made the appeal while delivering his closing address at the ANC’s ninth provincial conference, at the East London International Convention Centre (ICC) last night, where Mabuyane and his slate secured a sweeping victory against their rivals.
Despite the outcome of the elections, Ramaphosa warned against the “railroad” of those who did not make it to the top leadership of the ANC in the Eastern Cape. He urged the newly-elected leadership to retain the losers in top structures in government and local municipalities for the sake of ANC unity.
“My task is to ensure that there is unity in the ANC. It is a principled unity. Not unity for the sake of unity,” Ramaphosa said.
He also urged the losers, such as Babalo Madikizela – who challenged Mabuyane for the position of provincial chairperson – and members of his slate, such as former Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa, to support the new leadership.
“You came to the conference divided. The fact that you did not succeed did not mean you are not leaders. We will always see you as leaders of the ANC. I am happy that, after the new leaders were announced, you came and congratulated them,” Ramaphosa said.
His comments, however, came after Madikizela already expressed to the media his intention to step down as MEC for Public Works following his defeat by Mabuyane. Madikizela said he wants to return to business.
Earlier, Mabuyane also expressed similar views about factions within the ANC, which became evident in the run up to the provincial elections.
He urged the lobby groups, which campaigned for the different slate, to cease to operate after the conference which elected him as provincial chairperson.
“We had lobby groups during our provincial conference. These groups sang different songs and punted for certain people. They even changed the lyrics of our Struggle songs to suit their lobbying. The lifespan of these lobby groups must come to an end. Let us go back to our Struggle songs,” Mabuyane urged his members.
The re-election of Mabuyane, according to political analyst Lukhanyo Vangqa, was a major boost for Ramaphosa’s bid for a second term at his party’s national elective conference (NEC) in December.
Vangqa made the comments after the electoral commission confirmed Mabuyane’s second term.
Mabuyane got 812 votes, while Madikizela only managed to secure 662 votes.
Mabuyane’s deputy Mlungisi Mvoko also secured 812 votes to retain his position. Mvoko’s contender Xolile Nkompela only managed to get 657 votes.
It was a clean sweep for Mabuyane’s slate, as the ANC’s provincial task team coordinator Lulama Ngcukayitobi was also re-elected as provincial secretary with 807 votes, while his contender and Amathole region secretary Teris Ntuthu got 667 votes.
Helen Sauls-August also retained her deputy secretary post after outnumbering Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe with 805 votes. Tikana-Gxothiwe secured 663 votes.
Despite being the loser, electoral officer Ncediswa Mathenjwa shocked the hall when he announced the results of Lungisa’s name first for the position of provincial treasurer. Like all people in the Madikizela’s faction, Lungisa also managed to secure less than 700 votes. But, compared to his fellow slate members, he secured the highest votes by garnering 673, which means some of the Mabuyane’s faction voted for him.
However, Zolile Williams was elected provincial treasurer after securing 799 votes – a position previously held by Madikizela, while he featured in Mabuyane’s faction during 2017’s chaotic elective conference.
Commenting on the outcome of the election of the top five, Vangqa said it was a clean sweep for Mabuyane’s faction, saying the Eastern Cape ANC was likely to support Ramaphosa in December.
“It was a clean sweep. The margins were very wide. Mabuyane won by more than 150 votes. It was a huge difference. It is quite a resounding victory for Mabuyane. It is very clear that the ANC in the Eastern Cape would support Ramaphosa at the ANC’s national conference,” Vangqa said.
He said Ramaphosa had no option but to put his support and trust on Mabuyane because he does not have support in KwaZulu-Natal – the biggest ANC province in the country.
“So the Eastern Cape had confirmed itself as the second biggest province in the country and for Ramaphosa to win the party’s national elective conference, he has to rely on support from the Eastern Cape,” Vangqa said.
But another political analyst, Sandile Swana was not optimistic about the outcome of the elections. Swana said the outcome had left a bitter taste with the losers, saying some of them, especially those who lost their close friends in deadly factional battles ahead of the conference, were likely to challenge the outcome in court.