South Africa

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ANC Western Cape to finally convene elective conference to ‘rebuild and renew’ leadership

ANC Western Cape to finally convene elective conference to ‘rebuild and renew’ leadership
From left: Senior government official Justin de Allende. (Photo: Supplied) | MP Richard Dyantyi. (Photo: Twitter) | Cameron Dugmore. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | ANC Western Cape interim provincial committee convenor Lerumo Kalako. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The ANC has been in decline in Western Cape for over a decade. It’s finally hosting its provincial conference this weekend to elect new leaders who, it hopes, can revive its electoral chances.

After years of decay, countless postponements and more than a decade without stable leadership, the ANC in the Western Cape will finally convene its elective conference this weekend.

More than 700 delegates are expected to attend the ANC conference, which runs from 23 to 25 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Support for the party has continued to decline with every election, whether local or national, and it’s no surprise that the conference will be held under the theme “Rebuilding and Renewing a People’s Movement in the Western Cape: Towards a Better Life for All”.

“The organisation had found itself in a very difficult situation. Its unity and cohesion had been severely eroded. Its electoral fortunes had turned for the worst. Structures had been dysfunctional for a sustained period of time and, frankly, we had paper-based branches with no real active presence on the ground,” said Sifiso Mtsweni, the ANC’s head of communications in the province.

The conference was repeatedly postponed over the past few years as the requirement to hold 70% of branch general meetings (BGMs) had not been met.

Mtsweni said the ANC had held peaceful BGMs and had met the 70% threshold to hold the provincial conference.

“Unlike many before, these BGMs were characterised by robustness and open democratic practices. The normal negative tendencies associated with conferences have not been displayed; instead what we have seen is the robust internal democratic culture of the ANC on full display.”

The ANC’s largest region in the Western Cape, in terms of membership and population, the Dullah Omar Region, is yet to hold its conference after it was disbanded in February 2022, with the ANC’s Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) citing its failure to prove that it would be ready to hold its conference.

The now-axed ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule appointed the IPC to run the province in August 2019 following the disbanding of the Western Cape provincial executive committee in July by the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

The IPC was disbanded in August 2022 as its nine-month term had lapsed, but the members were reappointed again. Now the party wants to revive itself by electing new leadership. 

The race to lead the province includes its current leader in the provincial legislature, Cameron Dugmore; the chairperson of Parliament’s Section 194 Inquiry on the Public Protector’s impeachment, Richard Dyantyi; senior government official Justin de Allende; and IPC head Lerumo Kalako. 

Anwar Dramat, who once headed up the Hawks, is vying for the provincial secretary spot, and IPC convenor Thandi Manikivana is vying for the deputy chairperson position. 

Andile Lili, who was also going to be a frontrunner for the provincial chairperson, is not likely to stand as he is suspended by the party following the implementation of the step-aside rule. 

Lili has been charged with assaulting a primary school principal, a charge he denies. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Will assault case jeopardise Andile Lili’s plans of becoming Western Cape ANC chair?

The party has already released its conference discussion papers and the focus areas include the culture of vote buying during conferences, organisation renewal, women and gender equality, and broader socioeconomic challenges.

IPC member Nobulumko Nkondlo admitted during a press briefing that the ANC in the province was at its weakest in more than a decade.

“The ANC will also seek to confront its internal challenges that have placed the ANC in this province in its weakest position in more than a decade, with weak structures, low membership, loss of activists and public servants that are distant from their communities,” she said. 

In the 2009 general elections, the ANC lost the Western Cape to the DA and has never regained it. The ANC won only 31% of the vote in 2009 and fell to 28% in the 2019 elections. DM

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