On Monday, suspended ANC Western Cape chair Marius Fransman arrived at the party's downtown Cape Town provincial headquarters ostensibly to consult with “elders”. His supporters on social media soon triumphantly announced “Marius Fransman is back as Provincial Chairperson!!!” The reason for their misguided good cheer is a decision by the ANC's National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal to refer Fransman's five-year suspension back to the party's National Disciplinary Committee. By MARIANNE THAMM.
For those who presently enjoy making the rules up as we go along, the decision by the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal (NDCA) seemed to indicate Fransman’s grubby slate had been instantly wiped clean.
But rules is rules and the ANC has a lot of them, that is when office-bearers and members aren’t busy breaking them. And so, while Fransman might have made a strategic decision to claim his space at the ANC’s offices on Monday – followed by an entourage of enthusiastic Sasco and ANC Youth League supporters and after ostensibly having been summoned there by “confused elders” – Fransman remains suspended until the decision is reviewed by the party’s disciplinary structures. Those are the rules.
But there is no way the ANC Western Cape’s Daddy Kewl, who also happens to be one of President Zuma’s most committed enablers, is not going to try to get in on the ANC’s 2017 elective conference action. Factionalism blows up his metaphorical political skirt, it sustains him, keeps him going, feeds him and his vocal supporters. It has also led to the abysmal showing of the party in the Western Cape but hey, who cares, when political careers, patronage and power are all that seem to matter.
Just to recap. In November 2016 Fransman was suspended from the party for five years after being found guilty by the ANC’s National Disciplinary Commission on two counts of misconduct – “abusing his office for the purpose of attempting to obtain a sexual favour from Louisa Wynand, and for making public statements which brought the ANC into disrepute”.
Wynand, who testified at Fransman’s DC, has, in the meantime, vanished from public life. Suspending Fransman in November, Integrity Commission chairman, ANC Veteran Andrew Mlangeni, said that the evidence Wynand (who was 20 at the time of the alleged assault) had presented to the committee “is of a cogent nature and more likely to be true than not”.
On April 3, Jeff Radebe, Chair of the Committee of Appeal wrote to Fransman informing him that in the view of the NDCA “the NDC provided cogent reasons for proceeding with the hearing in the absence of the applicant and for not considering the evidence of his witnesses”.
Radebe added that Fransman’s wilful refusal to attend the NDC hearing “detracted from his positive duty to cure the negative public perception about the ANC which he created” and that the NDCA was of the view that “preferring further charges of misconduct against the applicant will not cure the negative public perception about the ANC that has been created. In order to protect the image and the reputation of the ANC, the NDCA is of the view that the most equitable approach in the interest of the ANC would be for the matter to be referred by to the NDC with an appropriate directive.” The NDCA ruled that a hearing be reconvened within 21 days of its April 3 letter.
Fransman accused the NDC of being biased and has complained he did not receive a fair hearing. From the moment the scandal broke in January 2016 Fransman has blamed a range of culprits for his predicament, claiming the entire sexual harassment charge was a “set-up” by political adversaries (this notwithstanding his inappropriate WhatsApps to the young complainant before that fateful road trip to Rustenberg) and a dastardly plot to unseat him. Later he accused ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe of “using his office for factional battles” when Fransman’s high court bid to stop the DC failed.
Fransman is now making a desperate last push to be let back into the fold, calling for the NEC to deal with his suspension and not the IC as he believes it is biased and has also been advising President Zuma not to “trust” it.
Fransman’s sudden appearance at the ANC’s headquarters comes a day after a considered statement by ANC Provincial Secretary, Faiez Jacobs, on the outcome of an ANC Western Cape PEC meeting. The PEC said that while it affirmed the President’s right to make changes to the national executive, it wished to reiterate “the NWC’s stance that such reshuffling should be done in consultation with the leadership”.
The PEC also discussed “developments around and the sentiments expressed at the memorial services” of Ahmed Kathrada, downgrades by international ratings agencies and the call for the resignation of President Zuma.
“The PEC is of the opinion that the Integrity Commission is the best internal instrument to investigate the conduct of the President and to make recommendations in this regard. The PEC appreciates the work done by the Integrity Commission already and express our support for the Integrity Commission’s investigation and work until now,” Jacobs said.
The PEC also called for an urgent special meeting of the NEC to discuss the NWC and added that it was “extremely concerned about the recent spate of personal attacks by NEC-members on their colleagues in the NEC as well as the attacks by Cabinet ministers on their Cabinet colleagues. We call on NEC-members to desist from such conduct as it does not bode well for the unity or integrity of the organisation.”
It also condemned attacks on Derek Hanekom, convenor of NEC-deployees to the Western Cape, as well as Kathrada’s widow, Barbara Hogan, and noted “in particular the racist undertones of these attacks on these former political prisoners”.
Fransman’s supporters are energetic users of social media and have been conducting a campaign to support him since his suspension.
And it hasn’t been pretty, with Fransman’s supporters tossing about slogans like “regime change” (for anyone who dares to criticise Zuma) and a “soft coup” (in relation to Fransman’s suspension) and also claims that memorials for Kathrada “have been organised by white people who never loved Kathrada” to plain “Voetsek Faiez Voetsek, Fockoff [sic] Faiez Fockoff”.
In response to these the PEC stated it was “concerned about ANC-members in the province who use social media to attack each other, promote factionalism, divide the ANC, undermine the authority of the ANC, sowing racism and political intolerance, making utterances which have the potential to bring the ANC into disrepute and promote their conference preferences when the NEC has not yet announced the succession debate open. While the ANC does not have a social media policy, Rule 25.17 is clear on what constitutes acts of misconduct, and the ANC will not hesitate to act in such cases.”
Not letting an opportunity to cause chaos slip by, the ANCYL in the province joined the fray, accusing the PEC of publicly undermining President Zuma.
“This particular position is all well and good if your primary function is to build an ANC in the image of those calling for President Zuma to resign in support of organisations like the SACP, DA, EFF, Save SA, SA First, SA Chamber of Business, etc. The latter have a common agenda based on personalities and a right-wing neoliberal capture of the state and ownership patterns and not pro-poor ANC policy,” said provincial chairperson Muhammad Khalid Sayed said on Monday.
This, in turn prompted a reply from Lionel Adendorf, ANC Chairperson of PEC Sub-committee on Media and Communications who stated, “The ANC can not, at any stage or time, be prescribed to by its youth formation on what to say, how to think, what to do, what positions to take or how to approach particular matters. While we always value and welcome the contributions made by the Youth League in enriching our outcomes, Rule 19.9.9 clearly stipulates that it is the PEC that will, inter alia, oversee the work of the Youth League in the province and not the other way around.”
Adendorf added that, “Simply because the Youth League could not convince the majority of PEC-members of their view, we consider the Youth League’s statement as disingenuous and a blatant attempt to undermine the authority of the PEC and to divide our membership.”
Fransman is hoping to circumvent a new DC and so have the “Friends of Marius Fransman” group – well sort of – led by one of his champions, Vanessa le Roux. Le Roux posted:
“Those of us that re-elected Cde Fransman in July 2015 as the unopposed Elected Leader (even though they tried to do a soft coup on him in the most brutal and inhumane way), we were always of firm believe [sic] that the disciplinary process against the Chairperson were [sic] bias and factional. Derek Hanekom, the enemy within and the one who lead the campaign to destroy the ANC nationally, and the one that waged the most brutal attack against the President were [sic] also the one that tried to manipulate the IC process against Fransman. Just as it played off in this week how compromised the Integrity Committee is with the case of the President, we already said last year that they were used in the most factional way by Hanekom and others, and there is no integrity in the Integrity Committee process.”
Le Roux added that, “As members of the ANC we are elated by the fact that the NDCA took the appeal of Cde Fransman into account, and through the findings actually admit that the process was flawed and bias, and that the NDC should be re-convened”.
To sum up then; Le Roux is not budging on the fact that she believes the DC “were bias and factional” but remains “elated that the NDCA took the appeal” into account.
In other words, just another busy, chaotic factional day for the ANC in the Western Cape. DM
Photo: Marius Fransman (GCIS)