A CLOUD of uncertainty hangs over the Northern Cape provincial government this morning following an eventful ANC elective conference held in Colesberg over the weekend. The conference ended a day early with closing remarks delivered on Saturday night
On the one side is what has been described as a “winner takes all” victory for Zamani Saul’s #Zamdesh group, who emerged as the winners in the contest for the leadership of the ANC in the Northern Cape.
On the other side is Premier Sylvia Lucas and her #Sylvin group, who were all due to contest the top positions within the party. They all, however, declined nomination.
Over the weekend Lucas indicated that she wanted the conference to be reviewed by the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) and would call a press conference today to explain her actions.
Although rumours started surfacing on social media during the conference of a possible “disobedience” campaign by current government officials against the new party leadership, sources at the conference quickly dispelled this.
The new Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) was appointed on Friday night with Saul being elected as ANC provincial chairman and Bentley Vass as deputy chairman. Deshi Nxganga takes over from Saul as provincial secretary while the deputy secretary is Maruping Lekwene and provincial treasury will be run by Fufe Makatong.
In a sudden turnabout Lucas, who was due to go head-to-head with Saul, and her supporters, Kenny Mmoiemang who was contesting to stand as deputy chairman, Alvin Botes who was vying for provincial secretary, Dawid Rooi for deputy secretary and Patience Tshangela for treasurer, all turned down their nominations.
Lucas thanked her supporters for the “honour and privilege” of being recommended for the position of provincial chairwoman but “unfortunately” did not accept the nomination.
On Friday she had indicated that she wanted the conference to be reviewed by the NEC following disputes raised by branches regarding the alleged rigging of the conference and cloning of membership. These allegations were, however, dismissed during the course of the conference.
On Saturday, the last day of the conference, Lucas did not wish to elaborate further, saying that she would convene a press conference today, where she would explain the reasons for the decision.
Many delegates who were actively campaigning for her did not attend proceedings on Saturday.
Additional PEC members, who were aligned to Lucas, said they were purged.
New provincial secretary, Nxganga, over the weekend indicated that there were no immediate plans to reshuffle the provincial cabinet and that “Premier Sylvia Lucas will remain in her position for now”.
He added, however, that the newly-elected PEC had yet to meet to discuss the most recent reshuffling, where Lucas replaced the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, and the MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Pauline Williams, with the ANC Women’s League deputy secretary, Gail Parker, and ANC MPL Alexandra Beukes, a day before the conference started.
“The ANC will meet at the right time to make a resolution regarding the reshuffle as it was not consulted on the decision. There will certainly be consequences that must be faced. We cannot set a precedent where mayoral and provincial cabinets are reshuffled without consultation.”
Nxganga indicated that he would resign from his position in the Dawid Kruiper Municipality today to focus full time on his position as ANC provincial secretary.
He also dismissed talk of disunity in the ANC.
“The ANC becomes open to confusion and scrutiny during times of contestation but there is still harmony in the movement.”
ANC members, however, pointed out that typically ANC PEC members occupied positions in government and that a cabinet reshuffle was imminent this week.
Suspended ANC Youth League members pledged their support for Saul, while the ANCYL as an organisation campaigned for Lucas.
Suspended ANCYL Frances Baard regional secretary, Tshepo Sedunkelo Louw, stated that he was now vying for the position of ANCYL provincial secretary.
“Our elective conference is long overdue. The ANCYL did not provide us with political clarity in the run up to the campaign. They disappointed us.”
A suspended ANCYL member, who was also a voting delegate from the Phokwane region, Mpho Moshweu, claimed that it was a case of “resign with dignity or be fired”.
“There was a 90 percent support for Saul while we were given a mandate to support the choice of national. We believe that Lucas and her team declined the nomination because she did not stand a chance of winning,” said Moshweu.
He added that he would accept being reinstated into the ANCYL.
“We are not bitter or disgruntled and were victims of the conference. We did not protest or make a noise when we were disbanded and we are ready to return.”
PEC members of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) remained steadfast in their support of the Premier.
“The scales were imbalanced because about 300 delegates who were supporting Lucas were excluded from participating in the conference.”
Former ANC PEC and ANCWL PEC member, Rosaline Tyler, explained that the premier and her team declined their nominations as they were convinced that the conference was rigged.
“The ANCWL PEC took a decision to support the premier to be elected as ANC chairwoman because it was resolved that the individual should be elected through a clean process. Various disputes of rigging and the manipulation of votes were reported and ignored. The premier and her team declined the nominations because they did not wish to be part of a flawed process, or impose themselves on the branches.”
She added that 30 nomination packages that were never dealt with, would be handed over to the NEC as evidence that the conference was rigged.
“I wish to place on record my utter disgust at leaders who stole the conference and rigged ANC processes. These individuals must face the consequences for the serious offences that were committed. They have succeeded in stealing the conference in an illegal manner. Legitimate delegates were excluded from voting.”
Tyler stated that they would await the recommendations from the NEC.
“The report into the dispute lodged over the cloning of branches was never released as promised. We will accept the final decision of the NEC and will be at peace with the knowledge that we did everything in our power to see that justice prevailed and the rightful people were elected.”
She pointed out that with the unresolved disputes hanging over the conference, the majority of ANC branches were not happy with the outcome.
“The newly elected ANC PEC is neither the voice nor the choice of the branches. We will lodge a formal complaint regarding the conference. The credentials of delegates were only dealt with on the second last day of conference whereas it should be at the start, otherwise the entire process is tainted.”
Tyler indicated that the process was far from over.
“Branches must still select delegates to participate in the ANC national elective conference to vote for the new party president. No matter which way the provincial elective conference went, the voters will ultimately decide at the ballots in 2019.”
She added that while she had not been re-elected as an additional PEC member of the ANC, it was the nature of leaders to “serve and leave”.
“The ANC has lost its moral compass. Leaders these days are more concerned about enriching themselves. History will judge us in the end.”
Cosatu’s provincial secretary, Anele Gxoyiya, urged the new PEC to act swiftly against the premier for reshuffling the her cabinet.
“Leaders must act with the best interests of our Province at heart. The PEC must take decisive action against those who undermine the ANC. The reshuffle was based on factionalism and was not based on improving service delivery.”
He did not believe that it would be beneficial to employ all the PEC leaders into positions of government.
“The PEC includes members of the tripartite alliance and the ruling party and it should function better than before. While some of the PEC members should be deployed into government, some should remain accountable in other areas.”