South Africa

ROAD TO DECEMBER 2022

Chaotic ANC North West conference ends without completing critical tasks

Chaotic ANC North West conference ends without completing critical tasks
The newly appointed North West ANC provincial executive committee, comprising chairperson Nono Maloyi, deputy chairperson Lazzy Molotsi, secretary Louis Diremelo, deputy secretary Viola Motsumi and treasurer Sello Lehari. (Photo: Supplied)

The ninth provincial conference of the ANC in North West — battered by court litigation, server issues, criminality and unresolved disputes — eventually wrapped up the first part of its business in Rustenburg at the weekend.

The first part of the ANC’s conference in North West saw the election of the top five leadership in the early hours of Monday. The nomination and election of the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) members, and the adoption and presentation of organisational reports, are expected to be completed within a fortnight.

Nono Maloyi, dubbed “N12”, was elected chairperson of the province after a fierce contest. For the deputy chairperson position, Lazzy Mokgosi emerged victorious. Louis Diremelo was elected provincial secretary, Sello Lehari as treasurer and Viola Motsumi was elected to the position of deputy provincial secretary.

Of the newly elected leadership, Motsumi is the only female candidate. This is despite the insistence on gender parity — to have 50/50 representation in the number of voting delegates and those competing for positions. The insistence was so vehement that branches that did not comply with the requirement were called at the eleventh hour to rectify this. 

This contributed to significant delays as some accreditation tags had to be reprinted. Delegates found themselves hanging around, while some resorted to sleeping on chairs while waiting for answers. 

The conference programme was scheduled to begin at 9am on Saturday, but this only happened after 5pm, with no communication to delegates and the media. Deputy President David Mabuza also had to wait for last-minute logistical arrangements. 

Governance 

When the deputy president was eventually able to address the more than 1,000 delegates, he did not mince his words on the challenges the North West province faced, and said that as a result, South Africans were losing patience with the party. 

“It is a known fact that we are facing challenges. We meet at a time when the people we profess to lead are now starting to question themselves, and they doubt our ability to provide leadership to [resolve] the complex societal challenges of the moment,” said Mabuza.

The North West government was put under the administration of the national government in 2018. At the time, it was grappling with political instability and a lack of service delivery.

Four years later, it appears little has changed as Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke earlier this month revealed that the municipalities in the province had remained largely stagnant over the past five years. None of the 22 municipalities in the province received a clean audit in the AG’s latest outcomes.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Audits in North West reflect a worsening culture of (un)accountability in the province 

President Cyril Ramaphosa was scheduled to close the conference with a keynote address, but was later advised against this due to a security breach. 

Security breach

The ANC’s head of organising, Nomvula Mokonyane, told the media the party had opened a criminal case after its registration venue, Olympia Park stadium, was stormed by a group of thugs who made off with accreditation tags that were later cloned by people seeking to participate in the conference illegally.

Some members of the crowd, said Mokonyane, were rowdy, drunk and ill-disciplined. They manhandled and eventually overpowered the security personnel and the party’s admin staff.

“Fortunately, there’s footage and we hope that as the organisation, we will be able to exercise discipline over and above laying criminal charges against those individuals,” she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC opens criminal case after ‘thugs’ clone accreditation tags at North West elective conference

Mokonyane dismissed suggestions that the party’s systems were weak, arguing that they were strong — they had picked up the cloned accreditation tags.

Before the security breach, the party grappled with an urgent court interdict filed at the Mahikeng High Court seeking to strip the voting powers of the Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) which has been at the helm since 2018.

Litigation

Tshepo Bosman, in court papers, argued that the IPC was not elected by branches and it was therefore unconstitutional to have it voting in the conference. The court ruled in his favour and ordered the IPC, and the ANC nationally, to pay the costs of the application. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC North West elective conference to go ahead after court bars Interim Provincial Committee from voting 

After this threat, the ANC was served with a letter of demand by former premier Supra Mahumapelo’s legal team. 

In his letter, Mahumapelo argued that members of the interim provincial committee were not nominated by their respective branches to attend the conference as either voting or non-voting delegates and, as a result, their presence at the conference was a violation of the party’s constitution. 

“It is our client’s further instructions that the 9th ANC North West Provincial Conference is marred with illegality and any consequent outcomes emanating from the said conference would be unlawful, invalid and inconsistent with the ANC Constitution,” according to Mahumapelo’s legal team.

Daily Maverick understands that some NEC members and deputy president David Mabuza called Mahumapelo into a steering committee meeting on the evening of Saturday, 13 August and negotiated that he dropped the court action. 

Greener pastures 

Mahumapelo later said some branches had asked him to stand as a candidate, while other branches had asked him not to stand as they wanted to nominate him for a position in the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

He indicated that he had decided on the latter as it increased his chances not only as an ordinary member of the NEC, but also as a member of the party’s top six. 

“If you stand here and stand again for national, you appear like a person who is after positions. So one has to think carefully about some of these things because how you come across in society as a leader is very key, so I thought carefully about it,” he said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Supra Mahumapelo ‘pulls out’ of North West ANC chairperson race and aims for NEC position 

If Mahumapelo is indeed nominated at the party’s much anticipated elective conference in December, the move would embolden the RET faction, which has few voices in an NEC that is predominantly behind President Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa is believed to enjoy more than 70% support in the NEC — the highest decision-making body between conferences. 

Last-minute preparations 

Spokesperson for the IPC Kenny Morolong told journalists during a briefing that the decision to forge ahead with the conference came from the NEC. 

Morolong said the IPC would have preferred to delay the conference by another week, but after seeking guidance from national officials, they were given the green light to proceed.

“We don’t take ourselves to the conference, we are taken to the conference by the NEC, who said let’s go ahead. We are content that, following their counsel, things are taking shape in the province,” said Morolong. 

At the time, delegates had no indication of where they could collect accreditation or the exact timing of the proceedings, which led to a chaotic start amid a heavy police presence.

A plan in place

In a wide-ranging interview with Daily Maverick, newly elected chairperson Maloyi said the floundering province faces the daunting task of stabilising collapsing municipalities and rebuilding and restoring public trust in the ruling party amid challenges that include arresting declining electoral support. 

Maloyi — who beat the incumbent premier, Bushy Maape, by more than 90 votes for the widely contested chairperson position — is of the view that although challenges persist, a provincial cabinet reshuffle is not necessary as it would cause further divisions. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: New North West ANC chair Nono Maloyi aims for ‘clean-up process’ to rebuild branches

“That thing is causing problems and a lot of instability in the ANC… that is why you see conferences of the ANC turned into battlegrounds.”

Criminal case

There was an unsuccessful attempt to have Maloyi removed from the race in line with the party’s step-aside resolution, on the basis that he faced a culpable homicide charge dating back to 2018, which had later been provisionally withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority.

The NPA could at any point reinstate the charges if new evidence emerges. This would cause serious problems for Maloyi and his political future in the party.

The second leg of the conference has since been moved to the end of August, said NEC deployee to the province, Obed Bapela. 

This is as two provinces — the Free State and Western Cape — are also due to host their provincial conferences by September. The Free State has delayed its conference due to continued infighting which it hopes to resolve before the election of new leaders, and avert possible legal action. DM

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