Western Cape ANC speaks of unity while alliance members are absent

Facing the threat of political factions within the party, the Western Cape ANC highlighted cooperation with alliance members. On Wednesday the party held a press briefing to tout the next steps forward for their ‘Ten-A-Side’ alliance. If representation at the briefing is anything to go by, much work still needs to be done as ANC interim leaders stood solo on the stage.

With local elections less than two years away, the African National Congress (ANC) is pushing to rebuild unity in its Western Cape office.

The provincial ANC held a press conference on Wednesday to provide an update on the results from an alliance meeting held this past Sunday, 17 November. Sunday’s meeting consisted of 10 delegates from each alliance organisation – the ANC, SA Communist Party (SACP), Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), and SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco).

The so-called “Alliance Ten-A-Side” met to plan a response to challenges facing communities in the province. It was also decided that they would “convene an alliance political council and a summit to be held in the first quarter of 2020”.

However, the exact details of the planned summit and the alliance remain unclear.

The most important outcome is this closer cooperation [between alliance partners],” ANC Western Cape spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen told Daily Maverick.

Cruywagen said it was expected that each delegate in the alliance would “be at the [alliance political council] meeting with a mandate from their respective organisation”.

However, he noted that while they “envisage regular meetings”, it had not yet been decided how regularly the alliance members will meet. Cruywagen said the meetings would probably be held at Community House in Salt River, Cape Town.

Wednesday’s alliance press conference was attended by the ANC interim provincial committee co-ordinator, Ronalda Nalumango, and the ANC interim provincial committee convenor, Lerumo Kalako.

All alliance partners committed themselves to the unity of the alliance,” Nalumango read from the alliance statement.

But no other alliance members or delegates were present at the briefing.

Cruywagen said representatives from the alliance had been invited to attend the briefing. However, due to time constraints, the briefing had to continue without them.

We expected them to be there,” Cruywagen told Daily Maverick.

He went on to say that the briefing had originally been scheduled for Tuesday and the change in date could explain the absence of other alliance representatives.

There are people who leaked the statement before the press conference through social media,” SACP provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu told Daily Maverick. “The statement was leaked before it could be signed off by the four parties of the alliance, that’s the reason for our absence.”

Ngqentsu did not wish to comment on who had leaked the statement, but said the party is “concerned” that information would be shared “before all parties were satisfied”.

The ANC cannot renew itself if it continues to undermine the organs of the alliance,” said Ngqentsu.

Alliance representatives from Sanco and Cosatu could not be reached for comment.

Other issues raised during the briefing included unemployment, gender-based violence, access to public transport, lack of social housing, and overcrowding at hospitals.

An interim Western Cape ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has been sitting since the committee was disbanded by the National Executive Committee (NEC) in July this year. Even before the PEC was disbanded, its mandate had already expired. The committee only continued to operate because it had not held or organised a provincial conference.

The NEC expressed concern on the functioning of the Provincial Executive Committee in the Western Cape, whose growing internal disintegration played itself out in the public, making it difficult for the PEC to discharge its duties,” said ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe in a statement on 2 August.

This interim committee will continue to serve as the leadership of the ANC in the Western Cape until the next provincial conference, said Cruywagen. The conference cannot take place until the ANC finishes establishing branches throughout the province. It is unlikely that the conference will take place until the end of January next year, with Cruywagen saying it could possibly take until February for a permanent provincial committee to be elected.

The announcement of the interim committee made by ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, on 15 August, was meant to signify “starting a new chapter of the ANC”. DM