Some African National Congress (ANC) branches in KwaZulu-Natal are upset over a decision taken by the party’s national leadership to convert regional task teams to regional election teams.
The disgruntled branches say the task teams are not constitutional structures and cannot oversee the selection of party candidates ahead for next year’s municipal elections.
The eThekwini region was disbanded in June last year. Planned regional conferences could not take place due to the coronavirus outbreak.
At least five regions in KwaZulu-Natal are demanding that regional conferences be held before preparations for elections.
Regional conferences in eThekwini, Moses Mabhida in the Pietermaritzburg area, Lower South Coast, General Gizenga Mpanza in KwaDukuza, and Josiah Gumede in Ladysmith were shelved due to COVID-19.
ANC member of eThekwini region, Mzomuhle Dube says allowing the task team to preside over the election of candidates might create serious problems for the ANC.
“The message that has been circulated, it’s a good message because it talks about preparing for elections towards the Local Government Elections. But what becomes a problem is that how do you begin to do that without proper structures in place. It is not easy to bring on the election process knowing that you have so many problems pending. It is unfortunate that the contestation that actually happens when we have to follow the process of electing councillors it quite messy and robust. By the way, in eThekwini we have a group of factions that were put together which I equally believe that even when that process of electing councillors arrives, we will have a situation where now these factions will say, ‘we will have to divide our deployment into quarters which I foresee a disaster.’”
Dube often speaks on behalf of supporters of Zandile Gumede, who was the last elected regional chairperson when the structure’s term of office lapsed in 2018.
Dube says further delays in holding regional conferences might create loopholes for any decisions taken by the task teams to be challenged.
“Without any structure, there is no ANC and when you do this especially now towards the Local Government Elections you are weakening the ANC machinery of electioneering. If you are a ruling party or in charge of the municipality, your municipality becomes machinery in terms of dispersing the services. Now when that also is not led properly by the centre you will find that the exco members, one or two, taking different directions and for them to stop the chaos they must find the way to reconstruct the structures that will be legitimate in terms of the constitution of the ANC which will at least lead us better towards the local government elections.”
However, the ANC regional conferences might still go ahead if lockdown regulations are eased further.
“That means that all our structures across the country not only in KZN they must prepare for the elections. Whether your term has expired; whether you are a task team, all of us we’ve got an obligation to prepare for the ANC campaign come 2021. Based on the lockdown easing period, the ANC is still planning to have those regional conferences. Probably, early next year we will have those RECs elected in those regions but it does not stop us from preparing for the elections,” says the party’s Provincial Spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela.
Meanwhile, Ntombela says the directive from the national leadership also applies to branch structures. The instruction is that they should be converted to branch election teams.