The African National Congress (ANC) says it is on course to stage its leadership elective conference in December.
This is amid fears that the hotly contested conference might be forced to be postponed due to a number of court actions in which disgruntled members have disputed outcomes of the election of provincial executives in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape.
Political observers have described the December conference as a make or break for the ANC and an opportune moment to self-correct, as the party struggles to restore its moral authority ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The legitimacy of the ANC provincial executives in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape had once again came under scrutiny during the ruling party’s Special National Executive Committee meeting which got underway in Irene outside Pretoria over the weekend.
The party’s top brass is under pressure to uphold the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling that nullified the ANC KZN provincial party’s 2015 elective conference.
Another faction of the ANC in the Eastern Cape has also disputed the outcomes of last month’s chaotic provincial conference. The newly-elected leadership in the Northern Cape is also facing a court challenge from disgruntled members.
With only five weeks left before the staging of the much anticipated ANC leadership elective congress in mid-December, there is growing anxiety as to whether the current court challenges over the legitimacy of some of the party’s leadership structures will not lead to the postponement of the conference.
Branch delegates are currently meeting to nominate their preferred candidates to take over the leadership of the ruling party. The fierce leadership battle within the ruling party has unsettled international investors sparking speculations that the country’s economic status might be further downgraded to junk status before the end of the year.
Former African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa have emerged as front runners to replace Jacob Zuma as the leader of the governing party.
Addressing the media on the margins of the ANC’s Special National Executive Committee meeting currently underway in Irene, outside Pretoria, the party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, has moved to calm the anxiety over growing speculations that the December national congress will be derailed.
“16th to 20th is the conference of the ANC. People can make their own predictions. We are working to hold the conference of the ANC and there is nothing that says it will not take place. There will be the conference of the ANC and the new leadership will be elected.”
The ANC has also maintained that the current court actions against the legitimacy of some of the provincial executives will not derail the staging of the much anticipated national congress in December. According to the ANC, 60% of the branch general meetings have been conducted across the country so far.
Mantashe said despite some challenges, there is progress in ensuring that the process of staging of branch general meetings is done without any hindrance.
“We are around 60% of the branch general meetings and we are pushing provinces to finish by the 15th. We’ve not decided to extend any time for the GBM’s. The majority of BGM’s have gone without violence and where there is violence there will be action. We are dealing with that.”
Meanwhile, ANC Presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu says political stability is crucial in ensuring that international investors support government’s efforts to resuscitate the ailing economy.
This is as Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba embarks on a road show to the United States to shore up investor support amid fears that the country’s economy could be further downgraded to junk status.
With the unemployment rate on a record high of 27%, the ANC-led government has been urged to implement measures to remedy the situation.
Sisulu, who is amongst the seven leaders vying to replace Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC during the December conference, has expressed concerns over the country’s deteriorating economic situation.
“When we talk about our economy we emphasise that we have to have political stability. We need the stability to urge investors to investors to invest in our country because we need them. We have to give this country intact and that’s how the history will judge us.”
The Special ANC National Executive Committee will continue on Monday.