At least 47 branches belonging to the Oscar Mabuyane faction could be quarantined from the Eastern Cape ANC conference. They would have to assume an observer status, sources have told the Mail & Guardian.
This decision will be made on Thursday after a late-night meeting between the head of organising Nomvula Mokonyane, national executive committee deployee Aaron Motsoaledi and the secretaries of the affected regions namely Chris Hani and Dr WD Rubusana region.
The meeting was prompted by a late-night letter from provincial coordinator Lulama Ngcukayitobi to ANC officials seeking an urgent meeting to deal with issues pertaining to conference preparation.
While previously such meetings were attended by provincial officials and leaders, Mashatile called for the entire task team to be present in the virtual meeting.
In a letter seen by the M&G dated 3 April, Ngcukayitobi requested an audience with Cyril Ramaphosa, Paul Mashatile, Gwede Mantashe, David Mabuza and Mabuyane in what the latter’s detractors called a last-ditch attempt to halt the conference, citing outstanding disputes and the exclusion of branches.
The M&G has been reliably informed that a meeting between the provincial task team, treasurer-general Mashatile, head of organising Mokonyane and national executive committee deployees ended abruptly with Mashatile asking for unresolved issues to be dealt with as there is a conference to prepare for in a few days.
The M&G understands that Ngcukayitobi raised issues concerning some branches in Dr WD Rubusana and Chris Hani being unfairly excluded from the conference.
Those in Babalo Madikizela’s camp however claimed that the Mabuyane faction’s argument relied heavily on the regional secretaries of the two regions painstakingly giving an update on the status of each branch, which was dismissed as the party had already dealt with the issues affecting the regions.
According to party insiders with intimate knowledge of the meeting, the dispute arose over the voting rights of the 47 branches.
These branches have been under investigation following allegations of manipulation during branch general meetings.
Sources said that Mashatile heard that in the Chris Hani region 31 branches were disqualified while in Dr WD Rubusana 22 fell to the same fate due to membership manipulation.
On 11 April the national disputes resolution committee ordered a re-run of at least four branch general meetings in Dr WD Rubusana after it found that deceased members were registered to attend meetings.
One insider alleged the Mabuyane grouping is hoping that the ANC will allow the affected branches to vote during the conference to boost their numbers.
The two regions are believed to represent part of the core Mabuyane support. It is anticipated that if left out it could diminish his chances of making a comeback as chair of the Eastern Cape conference.
A lobbyist with Mabuyane’s faction dismissed this, saying that the meeting was to get clarity on the disputed branches as well as last-minute verifications of branches.
The Mabuyane lobbyist said that they were certain of a victory this weekend, claiming to have at least 900 delegates of 1 500 expected to attend the conference.
They added that it was mischievous for party members to make claims that the Mabuyane faction were trying to halt the conference as the issue of manipulation was reported months back to the organising committee at Luthuli House offices.
They claimed that it was only after the provincial officials raised their concerns with the top officials that the matter received attention. The provincial leader added that while these branches were found to have flawed members, they had enough numbers to reach quorum without the individuals identified as having manipulated processes.
“Clearly you need to reconcile between the regions, province and national. Why would you exclude branches which are not affected? Those that are contaminated must still rerun their branch general meetings today. Out of that many of those branches sat without a single member from the manipulation. Those branches are not affected, why would you exclude them from conference? Those who are contaminated must still run their BGMs tomorrow,” the Mabuyane insider said.
In April disgruntled ANC members approached the courts and succeeded in preventing the Dr WD Rubusana region from going to conference after the disbandment of branches in 12 wards.
In the court application, Ondela Sokomani, a branch member in East London, argued that the decision to dissolve the branch executive committees was procedurally unfair and, therefore, unlawful because the branches and regions were not notified of the impending decision, nor were they consulted before it occurred.
He also argued that if delegates, who have been elected at properly constituted branch general meetings, are denied participation in a conference, it stands to reason that any decision to hold a conference is invalid and that the outcomes of such a conference are equally invalid, null and void.
East London high court Judge Nozuko Mjali agreed, ruling that the regional conference, which was scheduled for 8 April, be interdicted, pending the finalisation of all internal appeals and compliance.
In a statement shortly after the 7 April judgement, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said that the judgement vindicates the decision of the secretary general’s office suspending the convening of the regional conferences pending the resolution of outstanding disputes.