East Cape ANC heavyweights out in the cold

Masualle, Somyo and Qoboshiyane fail to make cut in new provincial executive

As the walking wounded returned to work yesterday following the ANC conference mayhem at the weekend, the party’s new Eastern Cape chairman, Oscar Mabuyane, wasted no time in naming his new provincial executive committee.

This, as five ANC members who had challenged the validity of the conference lost their bid in the East London High Court, which struck the matter from the roll.

Re-elected deputy-secretary Helen Sauls-August said afterwards the ruling paved the way for a return to normality for the embattled governing party.

Making it onto the new provincial leadership are two MECs, a deputy minister, a union leader and a mayor.

But left out in the cold is the former provincial chairman, premier Phumulo Masualle.

The PEC list was finalised by the Elections Agency in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Topping the list was ANC Women’s League provincial chairwoman Bulelwa Fanta, with 567 votes, Transport and Safety MEC Weziwe Tikana, her Sports counterpart Pemmy Majodina, and Deputy Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Former Nelson Mandela Bay regional secretary Zandisile Qupe, Priscilla Mantashe, Mncedisi Nontsele, Fikile Desi, Mary-Ann Dunjwa, Loyiso Magqashela, William Ngozi and Fundile Gade also made it onto the PEC.

The rejects included Masualle’s former deputy Sakhumzi Somyo, former provincial treasurer Thandiswa Marawu, former provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane and Andile Lungisa.

Senior politicians like Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi also failed to make the cut after they marched out of the International Conference Centre in East London shortly before the elections.

Mabuyane’s victory came amid deep-rooted divisions that culminated in a brawl which left numerous people injured. Some were struck with chairs and iron rods, while others were trampled.

However, only one case was opened with the police.

Mabuyane said the violence that broke out on Sunday was a desperate attempt to collapse the conference.

“It [violence] should not have taken place,” he said on Radio 702 yesterday.

“We teach members to be tolerant and resolve issues through talking.

“The violence does not sit well … it was a desperate attempt to make sure the conference did not take place.”

Two surprise returns to Calata House, the party’s provincial headquarters in King William’s Town, are former provincial ANC Youth League leaders Mziwonke Ndabeni and Thabo Matiwane.

Ndabeni surprised many at the conference when his supporters in the youth league task team in Dr WB Rubusana went against the league’s provincial executive committee’s decision to support Masualle and supported Mabuyane instead.

Meanwhile, political analysts say the fact that disgruntled ANC members are turning to the courts is a sign they no longer trust internal dispute mechanisms.

The validity of the outcome of the Eastern Cape conference is now in the hands of Luthuli House, to determine which side to believe in the dispute.

That is if the disgruntled grouping does not submit another court application to have the conference outcome nullified.

Lungisa said yesterday he had not been party to the court application. He also denied any part in the violent scenes which played out during the conference, blaming it on “other factions” within the provincial structure.

“We cannot collapse a conference,” he said. “Our participation in the movement is very clear, we try to raise our concerns without fear.

“We put our hands in our pockets and did not initiate any collapse in the conference.”

Lungisa said any issues he had would be taken to the ANC national leadership to be addressed.

Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni warned that patronage within the ANC had resulted in fierce contestation among factions aiming for top party positions.

He said factionalism in the ANC meant that the national executive committee was no longer able to be a neutral arbiter to the disputes ravaging the party ahead of its December elective conference.

Mnguni said party members were relying on the courts because they did not trust internal ANC processes.

“They understand how compromised structures are because they have been part of them.”

Political analyst Professor Shadrack Gutto said the ANC in the Eastern Cape was in crisis and there would likely be a fresh court battle.

“They may have a chance to appeal‚ but the time [between now and the national elective conference] is short for those who are proposing to do anything.”

Another analyst, Ralph Mathekga, said disgruntled factions within the party would put the national conference under pressure.

“There is much motivation for people to disrupt the conference. It can be disrupted by violence or by going to court.” – Additional reporting Nomahlubi Jordaan, Zolile Menzelwa and Devon Koen

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