Mabuyane fans give it their all

Delegates arrive at the East London ICC on Friday for the ANC EC Conference
Picture: Sibongile Ngalwa

If songs, chants and political slogans were anything to go by, Oscar Mabuyane appeared to be a firm favourite among ANC members who filled the East London ICC yesterday.

Kicking off the party’s provincial conference, hundreds of delegates made their voices clear with song after song showing adulation for Mabuyane, who is set to challenge Phumulo Masualle for the regional chairman position.

However, tensions among the opposing factions were palpable at times as the conference started eight hours behind schedule, thanks to logistical snags and lengthy talks to thrash out the legitimacy of all voting delegates – in particular the youth league.

As a result many scheduled events, including the nomination of leadership candidates, were postponed to today.

By late afternoon, as delegates poured into the hall, songs in support of Mabuyane filled the room.

At times Mabuyane sang and danced along, but only to those songs celebrating party stalwart OR Tambo.

For much of that time, Masualle and many of his supporters were not in the room.

When Masualle eventually entered, the two men sat side by side in a deliberate show of unity in front of divided delegates.

Eventually, Masualle got up to address the crowd.

“This is a historic moment for the organisation and the province. Oliver Tambo beckons us to wage war and close ranks in a way we have never done before, strengthen our branches,” Masualle said.

“The question is what will constitute what we will fight for, the significant challenge is that of persistent poverty, growing unemployment. We must root out all illiteracy, increase skills and improve the rate of the economy.”

Masualle said it was understandable that any reasonable person would be justified looking at this meeting with great anticipation for a leadership to emerge with solutions to troubles facing the province.

“The onus is on us to rise to the occasion,” he said.

Over the last four years, Masualle said, “the support of the movement in the province remains fairly consistent at 70%. It is significant and should never be taken for granted.”

Speaking of losing support in urban areas, he said: “We lost our prized possession, Nelson Mandela Bay.

“The question has to be asked as to why, when we have performed by way of service delivery?” He said the party needed to confront how it was seen as one that was not solution-oriented – an arrogant and complacent party.

Giving a message of support, SACP provincial secretary Xolile Nqatha said: “The alliance works in order to improve the lives of our people.

“We cannot be said to have a strong alliance when our movement and our people are in this deep crisis.

“Comrades who say it’s functional must come with evidence. Not evidence that talks to how better our lives are but to the people that we lead, because we are not the measure. Our people are the measure.”

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