Conference rocked by dispute over election of secretary-general
Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has had a dramatic first day as the party’s number one leader.
This, after the ANC’s national conference was rocked by a serious dispute over the election of the party’s new secretary-general, which saw Ace Magashule defeating Senzo Mchunu even though Mchunu had been expected to win the position.
The Elections Agency of the ANC conceded yesterday that it had committed a blunder when it failed to inform the plenary about 68 delegates who had registered to vote during the five-day elective meeting, but failed to do so.
Supporters of Mchunu believe the number could have swung the votes in their favour and he would have won the position instead of Magashule.
The Elections Agency made the concession at a meeting with the elective conference steering committee, which is chaired by newly elected national chairman Gwede Mantashe and also comprises the chairmen of ANC provinces.
An ANC insider who was at the meeting said there were two separate figures at the centre of the controversy.
One involved the 68 which appeared in the records of each candidate “as a number of delegates who failed to vote”.
The other involved 63 ANC members who were bused to Nasrec, assuming they were delegates to the conference even though they were not in the credentials report.
“These were people whose branches failed the verification process,” the source said.
“In conclusion, both these [sets of] votes couldn’t have been part of the conference register.
“The 68 chose not to vote and the 63 did not qualify to be part of the conference.”
The elections commission was due to clarify the matter at a plenary that had been scheduled to start at 6pm last night.
“This simply means there was no reason to doubt the conference credentials and outcomes of the election,” the source said.
The steering committee sat in a meeting for the better part of yesterday in an attempt to resolve the matter.
In the meantime, delegates broke up into commissions to discuss policy resolutions that the ANC has to adopt at the end of the conference, which was expected to end today.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa confirmed the dispute over the election of the secretary-general.
Voting for the ANC’s new national executive committee was expected to resume last night, with Fikile Mbalula, Ronald Lamola, Joel Netshitenzhe and Ayanda Dlodlo topping the list.
This is where the ANC will invoke its 50/50 gender parity policy and the 80-member NEC will comprise 40 men and 40 women.
Meanwhile Ramaphosa, with new treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, did a walkabout at stalls where vendors were selling ANC merchandise.
He appeared to be in a jovial mood, exchanging pleasantries with hawkers and saying he was still emotional after being elected to lead the ANC.
In a brief address to journalists, Ramaphosa steered clear of the vote dispute, saying only that the conference was going well.
“We have proven once again that the ANC is able to rise above its strength,” he said.
Not a single kanga bearing former ANC president Jacob Zuma’s face was being sold. His face has been replaced by Ramaphosa’s.
Gerald Fiki, from whom Ramaphosa bought two T-shirts, was elated, saying he would not use the R600 Ramaphosa had paid with because it would bring him more luck.
“The president said we all sell similar things and that made me think, how can I be innovative,” he said.
Ellen Ncube said Ramaphosa had bought a kanga bearing his face and had said he would send someone with the money later.