South Africa

Mangaung: ANC jumps over final Free State hurdle, clears way for conference start

By Ranjeni Munusamy 15 December 2012

President Jacob Zuma faced a psychological blow to his re-election campaign on Saturday, as the high-powered national executive committee sacrificed its Free State leadership to ensure that the 53rd National Conference is able to kick off on Sunday. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY/NewsFire.

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) endorsed a Constitutional Court order which declared the election of the Free State provincial executive invalid.

This means that the 20-member committee of Zuma’s ardent supporters, elected at the now-invalid provincial conference in June, are not allowed to participate and vote at the ANC national conference starting on Sunday.

The NEC has appointed a 20-member task team to oversee the holding of a new provincial conference in three months, where a new PEC will be elected. The task team is dominated by Zuma loyalists, including provincial chairman and Free State Premier Ace Magashule.

At the problematic Free State conference in June, Zuma told delegates: “This is an ANC conference the way we know it.” The Free State is one of six provinces which nominated Zuma for a second term, and the only province which did so unanimously.

ANC head of policy Jeff Radebe said Magashule will still be allowed to attend the conference and participate as he was elected directly to the national executive committee (NEC) at the previous national conference in Polokwane. Radebe said the NEC decision did not affect the status of the Free State’s 324 delegates, who were registered as voting delegates on Saturday morning.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told NewsFire that the court and NEC decision would not affect the outcome of the November Free State nominations conference which selected Zuma unopposed for re-election. Mantashe said the nominations conference was convened by the ANC’s electoral commission and not the PEC, and therefore the nominations for the top six and the NEC were still valid.The six Free State ANC members who applied to the Constitutional Court to invalidate the provincial conference, as well as a pro-change faction in the North West which applied to the Mahikeng high court contesting the legality of that province’s nominations conference, now face expulsion from the ANC.

Mantashe said anybody who took the ANC to court were effectively “removing themselves from the ANC”. The expulsion is not automatic, however, as the members would first have to face disciplinary action.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the court cases would not in any way affect the national conference. DM

Photo: Greg Nicolson.

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