Eastern Cape ANC divide deepens

Delegation takes row to Luthuli House amid demands PEC vacate offices

A delegation of senior ANC Eastern Cape members, who are refusing to accept the party leadership elected five months ago, turned to their national bosses yesterday in a bid to have the structure dissolved.

While the group, which included the likes of Andile Lungisa, Nancy Sihlwayi, Mlibo Qoboshiyane and Themba Xathula, stated their case at the ANC’s national headquarters Luthuli House, the provincial executive committee (PEC) was under fire from a large crowd of members demanding they vacate their offices.

The group demanded that the PEC vacate the provincial offices at Calata House, saying they would otherwise be physically removed as an illegitimate structure.

The group was led by, among others, former OR Tambo regional secretary Lawrence Mambila.

Addressing the crowd, Mambila said: “We are giving the illegitimate PEC a week to vacate Calata House. Next time we come here, we will physically remove them.

“We did not come here to meet that illegitimate PEC. We have some of our leaders in Luthuli House as we speak, to represent us.”

The group was basing its argument on an unsigned report that has been circulated on social media, purportedly written by appeals panel chairman Sbusiso Ndebele, who investigated the disruptive elective conference held in East London in October.

The report recommends that the current PEC be disbanded and an interim structure be appointed.

When The Herald asked Ndebele yesterday whether he could authenticate the unsigned report, he refused to comment and referred questions to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

“We’ve submitted the report to the SG and it’s up to him to reveal it because we’re not at liberty to do that,” Ndebele said.

ANC national spokesman Pule Mabe said the report circulated on social media was fake.

“The ANC does not deal with internal matters through the media.

“Once a decision has been reached on the EC matter, the relevant structure will be informed of that decision by the secretary-general of the ANC,” Mabe said.

ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said the PEC was not going to be disbanded any time soon.

“We are not disbanded, we are not likely to be disbanded any time soon. We are very intact and discharging the PEC responsibilities, we had a special PEC today,” Ngcukaytobi said.

“The PEC can’t be disbanded by disgruntled individuals – only a proper NEC meeting can do that.

“We know as a matter of fact that the report is with the SG. We are not privy to the contents and we know as a matter of fact that post the national working committee [NWC], we will be given the report and we will interact with [it].

Meanwhile, the visit by the delegation to Luthuli House yesterday came as ANC provincial leaders await the decision of their national counterparts on their plans to reshuffle premier Phumulo Masualle’s cabinet.

The relationship between Masualle and the PEC has been rapidly dwindling after an internal report written by Ngcukayitobi painted a picture of an ineffective state that had failed to follow the party’s mandates.

It said Masualle flatly refused to cooperate with the new ANC leadership.

Asked if their visit to Luthuli House was about their attempts to have the PEC disbanded, Xathula – the Nelson Mandela Bay ANC regional secretary – said it was not only about that.

“People shouldn’t make assumptions about why we’re here [Luthuli House]. There’s a lot we’ve come to discuss.”

Lungisa said they were at Luthuli House on internal party matters.

A group, known as the pro-Masualle group who lost the election at the East London conference, questioned the legitimacy of the conference which turned violent, seeing at least eight delegates treated in hospital.

They sent a 29-page report to the ANC national headquarters charging foul play, stating that the conference had proceeded illegally.

NMU political lecturer Ongama Mtimka said: “One doesn’t understand why there would be a protest for a process that’s already in motion unless these branches got wind that Calata House was planning on opposing this [alleged Ndebele report].”

Mtimka said the protest might be a way to try to expedite the findings of the appeals panel and apply pressure on the NEC to make a decision.

“Maybe it’s their way of making sure their gripe doesn’t disappear from the agenda.”

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