16. Dezember 2017

Conference delay expected as ANC NEC meets over court judgments

The ANC's 54th elective conference is expected to be delayed as the party's national executive committee (NEC) holds an emergency meeting following court judgments against the KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West's Bojanala regional conferences.

The NEC meeting was expected to have started at 08:00, while the ANC's conference is scheduled to start at 09:00 at the Nasrec expo centre, south of Johannesburg.

The unprecedented court judgments have seen more than 100 delegates barred from voting at the conference. The race between presidential candidates Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is so close that a few hundred votes could cost the candidates a win.

The three provinces were headed to courts to appeal the judgments, with the North West saying once it has lodged an appeal, affected delegates will attend the conference. But other leaders have said this risks the legitimacy of the conference.

They have argued that affected delegates should be barred from attending the conference as their branch meetings were declared "unconstitutional" by the courts, but if they attend they should not be given voting powers at the conference.

On Friday, allegations of manipulation of the registration process and buying of delegates to influence the outcome of the elections were rife. WhatsApp messages alleging that certain party leaders were changing names of delegates chosen by branches with those who supported their presidential candidate were also circulating.

The allegations and court judgments are expected to be raised when credentials are supposed to be adopted. A long and heated battle that could derail the much anticipated conference is expected.

ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte said theirs was a "cheat proof system".

"The process is quite thorough, it's impossible for this process to be cheated because it starts with a branch mandated delegate registering as a branch mandated delegate," said a tired Duarte after hours of assisting delegates from the different provinces across the country get their accreditation for the watershed conference.

"Provinces are allowed to make minimum changes in the case of injury of an individual, illness, death in the family, that sort of thing, for no other reason can a change be made. It doesn’t allow changes in fact," she explained.

Duarte also said she and other officials helping delegates did not encounter serious issues.

"The issues we were anticipating, primarily issues such as they [the delegates] were in a branch general meeting, they were verified but they don’t appear on the list. Not many, such a small percentage that it is insignificant. But we are dealing with it anyway," said Duarte on Friday.

By Saturday morning, there were still delegates from the Free State who claimed they were not registered yet, whilst those affected by the court judgment were accredited. One Free State delegate, aligned to the Ramaphosa campaign, said he hoped that the NEC will resolve the registration challenges to avoid a collapse of the conference during credentials.

The supporters of both Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa are brimming with confidence and claim to have the numbers to win the race to replace Jacob Zuma.

ANC NEC member Mathole Motshekga told News24 that the court judgments had revealed that fraudulent conduct was only present in provinces behind Dlamini-Zuma.

"In all the provinces that support the deputy president, there is no evidence of fraudulent conduct, which means that he is backed by people committed to a clean organisation and clean government of the future."

He said the court judgments had vindicated Ramaphosa's supporters who have always had the suspicion that "people will try and steal the conference", starting at branch level.

He said the judgments were a blessing in disguise because they would help the ANC identify the rot within the organisation and rebuild from an informed position.

A fight is expected in the NEC meeting, with ANC Youth League president Collen Maine, a Dlamini-Zuma supporter, saying that the judiciary had become "very political".

"The judges are working with some among in the ANC to determine the outcome of conference. We remain unshaken, victory is certain, agents of white monopoly capital will not lead.

"Nobody is going to lead us through the courts," Maine said.

"If the judges want to lead the ANC and to participate, they must tell us and we will allow them a delegation so they participate in the congress and not use the courts to hold us to ransom," he said. (News24)

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