It was not a good weekend for the ANC in the Western Cape. Bad planning resulted in the embarrassing postponement of the party's local 104th birthday celebrations in the Boland town of Grabouw, where Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was due to speak while some members of the provincial PEC are deeply unhappy with public statements that there is unanimous support for leader Marius Fransman. Meanwhile, police in the North West appear to be taking their time concluding an investigation into a charge that Fransman allegedly sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman who travelled with him to Rustenberg for ANC birthday celebrations earlier this month. By MARIANNE THAMM.
At a press conference on Saturday after a PEC meeting on Friday, ANC Western Cape acting secretary, Thandi Manikivana, told media that the provincial PEC had “came out in support of Comrade Fransman to continue to lead the ANC in the Western Cape and its programmes. Fransman, as a seasoned comrade, has all the capabilities and capacity to lead the ANC, especially at the time of going into local government elections.”
It was resolved at the meeting on Friday that the issue of the sexual assault charges against the party’s chair would now be referred to the ANC’s Integrity Commission for further investigation. The commission, established in 2013 after the party’s 2012 national conference in Mangaung, has the power to make decisions regarding those “who tarnish the party’s image”.
However, concerned insiders say that after a heated debate on Friday, 22 of the 29 PEC members who spoke up at the meeting – which was not attended by “suspended” provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs – had requested that Fransman step down as leader at least until the police investigation had been completed.
“The issue and the process has been manipulated. We never unanimously came out in support of Fransman,” an insider, who asked not to be named, told the Daily Maverick.
ANC Western Cape Provincial spokesperson Jabu Mfusi, told the Daily Maverick on Sunday that “we were robust and arrived at a decision we have conveyed…I cannot answer on behalf of faceless individuals purporting to be PEC members. Ask them to be bold and be men enough by showing their faces. We stand by the authentic statement we released yesterday by the officials on behalf of the PEC.”
Deputy provincial chairperson, Khaya Magaxa, has called for the police investigation to be completed as the delay was not only “hurting” Fransman and the alleged victim but was also “an albatross on us as the ANC”.
The scandal is beginning to resemble a tacky B-grade soap opera with some ANC members openly threatening and insulting each other on Facebook walls as various factions come to metaphorical blows over Fransman’s leadership.
Fransman, who has denied the sexual assault charges, claimed that these are part of a wider conspiracy and that he has been “set up” by enemies within the party. He said these “enemies” would soon be exposed. The Sunday Times reported that Fransman had accused former Boland ANC regional secretary, Jonton Snyman, for “setting up a honey trap”.
Fransman told reporters that Snyman had sent him an SMS last month charging that he was a “the biggest factionalist in the ANC” and that he would be “the biggest embarrassment to the ANC” at Rustenberg. Fransman said the young woman who ended up accompanying him by road to Rustenberg had approached him a few days after the SMS. Snyman, who was suspended late last year after submitting a fraudulent insurance claim for a laptop, acknowledged sending the SMS but denied the allegation that he was behind the alleged “set up”.
North West police this weekend continued to maintain that the case is still under investigation.
The nature of the relationship between Fransman and the young woman remains unclear. In her reported statement to police she claimed that Fransman had offered her a job as his PA while Fransman has now said that the woman accompanied him on the journey to Rustenberg as part of “a tourism drive” for the Western Cape. The young woman worked at a wine farm in Stellenbosch where she allegedly first met Fransman. She has, however, no known links to any legitimate tourism body in the province.
There are many complex currents that feed tensions and factionalism in the ANC in the region. Apart from Fransman’s leadership style and apparent networks of political patronage that come with the turf, there is also the not inconsequential matter of who gets to be on party lists for the Cape Metro, a key region for the party according to the ANC’s head of elections and campaigns, Nomvula Mokonyane.
In the upcoming municipal election, half of the councillors will be elected through a proportional representation ballot (where voters vote for a party) while the rest are elected as ward councillors by the residents in each ward. The scramble then to make it to the top of the PR list is fierce and those who have a say over who will be on it, hold much power in the party.
Meanwhile Western Cape ANC members who were looking forward to the party’s 104th celebrations in Grabouw at the weekend learned that the event has been postponed until 30 January. While Manikivana had alleged that the DA-led Theewaterskloof Municipality had failed to provide a permit for the event, the region’s mayor, Chris Punt, said while the application had been late it had been approved.
“I as mayor said let’s try and make it as easy as possible for them because we have a good relationship with the ANC in Theewaterskloof and I don’t want any hassle” Punt told Eye Witness News.
However, it was, said others, bad planning by ANC organisers, including ANC Western Cape MPL Richard Dyantyi, that had led to the embarrassment of having to postpone the event.
The ANC’s Provincial Working Committee will meet on Monday to discuss various matters, including the “precautionary suspension” of provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs. DM
Photo: Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Marius Fransman is seen with his South Korean counterpart Park-Suk-hwan at a meeting to strengthen relations between South Africa and South Korea in Pretoria, Friday, 10 June 2011. Picture: Dept of International Relations, Cooperation/SAPA.