POLITICS

North West ANC disbands as all eyes turn to 2019 elections

By Marianne Merten 31 August 2018
Caption
ANC North West Chairman Supra Mahumapelo in Nasrec, December 2017. Photo by Leila Dee Dougan.

The ANC is starting its election candidates selection processes in September, as the special meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decided “maximum attention” must from now be given to work for the 2019 elections. And after months of tensions in the North West, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule also announced on Friday the disbanding of the North West ANC, thus removing Supra Mahumapelo as party chairperson.

The special one-day ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) in one of the first concrete steps with an eye on the 2019 elections disbanded the troubled and tension-ridden North West ANC executive and replaced it with a provincial task team (PTT) headed by Job Mokgoro, the premier since June.

The disbandment was effective immediately, said ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule on Friday after the ANC NEC in Cape Town. Mokgoro had “assumed political leadership”, but the ANC National Working Committee (NWC) would oversee the establishment of a “unified” and “all inclusive” provincial task team (PTT) over the next week.

(Supra) Maphumapelo… fully accepted the outcome,” said Magashule, adding later the former premier and ex-provincial party boss would set to be part of the PTT: “He (Mahumapelo) still has a role to play… He would be integrated into the task team.”

While Magashule styled the disbandment as a move as one to “strengthen… (and) enhance the capacity”, to dissolve an elected party structure is a last resort. It has come amid continuing tension in the ANC North West structures after Mahumapelo stayed on as ANC provincial chairperson after having to step down as premier in the wake of protests that racked the province in April.

Those protests triggered the rushed return of President Cyril Ramaphosa from the Commonwealth Summit in London. But party processes dragged on until Thursday’s special ANC NEC in what remains one of the clearest indicators of continued factional jockeying in the ANC.

Somewhat quicker came the national government intervention under Section 100 of the Constitution in six of the North West departments in May. Initial reports back to the parliamentary ad hoccommittee established to monitor this process in July had the committee in a public statement expressing “shock at the manner in which public finances have been handled in the North West” and “displeasure at the manner in which the Office of the Premier has centralised services (that should be performed by departments)”.

On Friday, Magashule said the North West ANC PTT would be the structure to oversee the party’s election candidates list processes. And that list process may well see Maphumapelo get on the list to Parliament, the destination of others who have previously fallen out of ANC power politicking like former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale, who chaired the public service and administration committee before being made deputy small business development minister in Ramaphosa’s February Cabinet reshuffle.

The list processes would run countrywide for two months from September, coming in the wake of the new ANC membership system that was launched earlier the week.

We will now refocus all our structures on elections,” said Magashule. Already the ANC had engaged communities as part of preparations of its election manifesto, and the Thuma Mina campaign that was “fixing issues” raised by communities. “We are taking time to, in real terms, consult, engage so our election manifesto becomes the people’s manifesto.”

That outreach is being touted as part of the “hard work” the ANC is putting in to regain voters’ trust. In the 2016 local government elections the ANC slipped to 54% of support, down from 62% in the 2014 elections, and lost control of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, while needing coalitions to retain Ekurhuleni and other councils like Rustenburg.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro DA-led coalition this week unravelled amid an EFF and ANC-led vote of no confidence in DA mayor Athol Trollip, although a similar move in Tshwane faltered on Thursday.

ANC elections boss Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday that the party’s approach at local government level was directed by service delivery considerations and informed not by pacts, put issue-driven co-operation with other political parties. Consultations within the ANC and broader civil society would continue “on how the voice of the people can be placed at the centre of the resolution of the current crisis in these metros”, Mbalula said in a statement.

And Magashule continued on Friday that to push that line. People were “losing confidence in metros where the ANC is not in charge,” the ANC secretary-general said. “The ANC as leader of the people has no choice but to regain that space.”

Interactions at grassroots level had shown the ANC there was widespread disillusionment with the DA-led coalitions – “devoid of principle” and “house of cards”, was how Mbalula described these a day earlier – and regret how citizens voted two years ago. “(People) say they made a mistake by punishing the ANC,” said Magashule. “We (ANC) will work hard to regain…”

And so amid an apparent determination to sort out factional tensions not only in the North West, but also all ANC regions that fail to complete their conferences this weekend, the broad sweep of an ANC 2019 electioneering approach has emerged this week. DM

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