It’s time for the ANC leadership to face reality. For every illegal and corrupt action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The ruling on such a fine Tuesday morning on the organising of the provincial conference in KwaZulu-Natal can only be described as a crushing blow to the proponents of illegality in KZN. Yet again our independent judiciary came to the party in the fight against corruption and unconstitutional behaviour.
The court ruling can only be described as monumental in the sense that almost the entire NEC of the ANC participated in illegal provincial conference proceedings.
Allow me to explain the dubious nature of the organising of the provincial conference in KZN that has now been nullified by our courts.
First, there is this problematic region in the province called the eThekwini Metro region, which is also the largest region in the province. The Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma faction knows they do not see eye to eye when it comes to leadership contests as well as a number of other policy positions and so they (the region) must go, but we cannot get rid of them because they enjoy the support of the then PEC and so, logically, the PEC must go. So, let’s put the necessary processes into motion that will realise such a goal.
In order to deal with the region you concoct a plan to rather take over the PEC, so you insist that the provincial conference be brought forward. In fact, you insist that it must sit six months before it was due to convene. Then when the largest region indicates that they are simply not ready for such an early date, the organisers still insist it must go ahead without this said region.
When the matter is tabled before the NEC of the ANC, they indicate that they have serious reservations with a provincial conference proceeding without one of the largest regions not in attendance. It is recommended that the provincial conference cannot take place without all regions present and in good standing. We all thought that put that matter to rest. The President had other plans.
The President subsequently goes to the province per an invitation from the structures there and publicly in vernacular tells the people there that he thought he was the president of this organisation and that he would have wanted the conference to continue without the said region. This like a well-oiled machine gained traction in the meeting and every time a person got up to speak they started by saying he or she agrees with the president on this matter. This is how the NEC was then overruled by the cunning President Zuma. The people of KZN have spoken, he would retort afterwards.
And so the conference was convened speedily and continued without the largest region in KZN in attendance and so the election of a more pliable PEC made sweeping and dare I say swift changes in both the organisation but also in the Provincial government structures. I’m sure Senzo Mchunu, the outgone chairperson, will agree with me when I say he never saw himself out of the provincial premier position with such precision and speed. It took only one week to remove him, and just so we are clear on the speed with which it was done, even the photo of the premier in most provincial government offices was replaced with immediate effect. I’m sure some public servants are still confused about the turn of events during those turbulent few days.
Now, at a provincial conference the Secretary-General of the ANC would ordinarily instruct four or five of the NEC to please attend the conference, both to oversee proceedings and to convey the support for the conference from the leadership of the ANC. In the case of the KZN conference there were 48 NEC members in attendance. And if that was not enough, four of the six top officials of the ANC were also in attendance at the conference.
In fact, some of them actively participated in certain proceedings at the conference, in commissions and drafting teams and so on. What this means is that the majority of the NEC gave their indirect support to this conference despite the glaring wrongdoing on the part of the organisers of the conference.
Now that the court has ruled that it was unconstitutional and therefore illegal, hence nullification, what are those members to do? I ask this because after such a court ruling, the review of wrongdoing rests with the NEC of the ANC and yet the majority was part of such illegality. This would clearly constitute a conflict of interest.
The ruling is also monumental because it brings into sharp focus the nature of corrupt practices as we move ever closer to the December conference. Already, four other provincial conferences have been halted and/or postponed because of manipulation practices with regards to membership and the branch audit systems. Surely everyone now knows that if you intend to manipulate branches and memberships, you face a similar fate such as the Sihle Zikalala group in KZN.
But more important, the question becomes, can we expect similar malpractices at the elective conference of the ANC in December?
Whatever will SG Gwede Mantashe decide is a possible way forward out of this quagmire?
He could decide to yet again allow for “malicious compliance” on the part of the ANC NEC.
Meaning that when a similar ruling took place in the Free State just weeks before the then Mangaung elective conference in 2012, the NEC moved swiftly to install a Provincial Task Team to remedy the wrongdoing. In other words, the PEC is dissolved and all powers are transferred to the task team. They simply constituted the task team with the very same people of the wrongdoers and to the exclusion of the complainants and hence a quick audit was re-engineered and a snap provincial conference was held with more or less the very same bogus membership – and voila, a new conference elected the very same PEC as before and they headed for national conference. This is the malicious compliance option.
Another is to indeed put a Provincial Task Team in place but instead of instructing them to reconstitute the membership of the province; they indicate that the Provincial Task Team will take the province to the national conference with a veiled branch audit membership and not a constitutional structure such as the PEC.
Last, indeed undertake to reconstitute the entire membership of the province in line with the court judgment, but I fear this will take too long and could impact on the national conference and whether it will be able to convene or not. After all, an elective conference without the KZN province will make for interesting outcomes, wouldn’t you say?
No doubt Senzo’ s group have learned from the Free State experience and will almost immediately get an interdict against any attempt to impose such an arrangement in the province. Where would that leave the NEC and the SG? I do not know. Sihle’s group will most certainly appeal the court ruling and hope that the appeal date for review is set after the December elective conference, making it effectively a fait accompli.
What remains clear for me in all this is the fact that we can expect more political killings in KwaZulu-Natal during this period. After all, what do you expect when you get into bed with unsavoury characters from the former Inkatha Freedom Party? Those, who mercilessly killed ANC cadres during the dark days of our Struggle, trained by the apartheid security apparatchik to murder indiscriminately. These are the likes who have joined the ranks and branches of the ANC in KZN.
I am very sure that instead of interrogating the wrongdoing leading up to that provincial conference, the NEC will instead be taking a decision that says any member of the ANC that take the organisation to court will be expelled henceforth. It’s time for the ANC leadership to face the reality.
Newton’s law of motion are very clear.
The first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by actions of an external force. The third law states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The electorate is indeed that external motion that is already exerting force on the ANC to change but instead of heeding this warning, Zuma’s ANC chooses to remain at rest and in a uniform motion. This is a mistake. For every illegal and corrupt action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If there remain arguments not to self-correct, then 2019 is gonna witness a reaction that will not be stopped.
The ANC will continue to wither away until it finally loses power and hit rock bottom if it remains intransigent to the laws of nature. DM
Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of International Relations (IR), where he focuses on International Political Economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He completed his PhD and Masters studies at the University of Cambridge (UK). His undergraduate studies were at Turfloop and Wits. He is an active fellow of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (MISTRA) and is a trustee for the Kgalema Mothlante Foundation
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