Six months into office, the African National Congress (ANC) Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in the Northern Cape is convinced that they have managed to bring stability to the province.

The Northern Cape has declared support for deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the party’s elective conference in December.

The ANC in the province spent the whole of 2016 without a chairperson, following the resignation of convicted fraudster John Block in 2015. Block was only replaced in May after an elective conference, marred by postponements and branch disputes. The transition was not as smooth as anticipated.

Premier Sylvia Lucas, an open supporter of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, went against current provincial chairperson, Zamani Saul, a Cyril Ramaphosa backer.

Lucas, who declined nomination for provincial chairperson, is the first one to challenge the provincial leadership.

“There are still so many outstanding issues, that have not been properly addressed, but it’s clear that comrades have taken a decision that they are going to continue in spite of all the issues raised by us as the members of the PEC and by branches,” says Lucas.

Confident that all processes were above board, Saul challenged Lucas and her supporters to take any steps to question their ascendance to leadership.

“They are welcome to do that, we are very confident that this was a protracted process and everything was above board, so anybody who wants to challenge it, they are welcome to do that,” says Saul.

Saul, who was newly elected at that time, declared that the conference had resolved to support Ramaphosa. But, the youth league, women’s league, MK veterans and some ANC members didn’t agree.

This became evident, at a National Women’s Day celebration in the province, when some members of the audience sang: “We are ready for Nkosazana.” Among those attending were President Jacob Zuma and Dlamini-Zuma, hosted by Lucas. But, that didn’t last long, with the Women’s League and the MKMVA changing tune.

Provincial Secretary, Deshi Nxanga, says it was a matter of persuading comrades why it was important to back Ramaphosa.

“The youth league in the Northern Cape has a different view that the mother body in the province but we will always persuade them to come to Ramaphosa. We will never supress them or victimise them,” says Nxanga.

But the provincial youth league disagrees.

The league’s Deputy Secretary, Xhanti Teki says, “We agree, but how do you balance then the issue of a member of the ANC having the right to be voted for, we don’t even know now these things, we stand for radical economic transformation, that these new deals that people they come up with, it’s theatrics.”

The province will take the least number of delegates to the conference. As branch nominations opened, 181 of them qualified for audit and Ramaphosa’s support was at 154 and Dlamini-Zuma’s at 11. Even with the provincial executive declaring victory in their ability to unite members and share one perspective, a court case is looming against them. Some disgruntled party members are challenging the legitimacy of the conference and have accused the PEC of rigging the conference six months ago.

The province, which has 12 disputes that arose during branch general meetings, says it’s all systems go, ahead of the December conference. The province is taking 197 delegates to the national conference.