Political future of suspended Free State ANC members in limbo

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The political future of some members of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State’s Mangaung Region is in limbo. Since the suspension of the four members early last year, and three appearing in front of the party’s disciplinary hearing, they still haven’t received their verdict.

As the country is left with a few days ahead of the 2024 general elections, the suspended members are uncertain whether they should campaign for the party.

The ANC in the Free State suspended four members for organising a parallel Mangaung elective conference in November 2022. The conference proceeded despite the group’s failed court action, to interdict the party’s then Mangaung Interim Regional Committee (IRC) from going ahead with their conference.

The ANC faction in the Mangaung region elected its leadership at that disputed conference. Patrick Monyakoane was elected as the chairperson, Monnapule Ntamo was elected as deputy chairperson, while Tonto Selebedi was elected the regional secretary at this parallel conference.

Fannie Lelimo, Ntamo and Selebedi appeared before the party’s disciplinary hearing early last year. While Patrick Monyakoana reportedly absconded. It’s over a year now and the three haven’t received their verdict.

A so called generic suspension letter with the same charges, was sent to the suspended members. The party’s provincial spokesperson Jabu Mbalula explains:

“There were basically two distinct cases. The first one was a case that involved councillors in Mangaung that voted with the opposition, those ones were also given a fair chance and they appeared before the DC and they were expelled by the movement. They appealed their expulsion through the courts, they also lost a case there. The second matter, involves about four comrades that held a parallel conference at the Bon Hotel. Those ones as well were given a chance to appear before the DC, that also did take place and so far as we’re concerned the matter is now closed. If there is still misunderstanding of how the process was administered, it’s a matter that we will take care of, as the PEC.”

According to the party’s constitution, if a member appears before a disciplinary committee, the proceedings should be concluded within six months. The rules may change only if a request was sought for extension by writing. Failure to adhere to that means the matter must be discarded. Mbalula further elaborates:

“So normally what happens is that depending at the level where the transgression has happened, once a DC sits, then it will report to a political structure then the political structure would agree or disagree with the case and if there is a disagreement, there are also processes of how those matters can be appealed within the African National Congress. In this instance, the DC did sit, the presenters presented the case on behalf of the Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC what then needs to happen, is that we need to make sure that there was indeed communication that was done to them.”

Communication and transparency

Political analyst, Professor Sethulego Matebesi, believes in such cases there needs to be communication and transparency or the matter becomes problematic.

“Once a disciplinary case has been laid against you, there should be a hearing and the hearing should take place within a certain stipulated time and the question is, are you now a member of the party, you need to go out and campaign for that particular party, how do you do that, with this lingering around your head? And that for me is very problematic, where I strongly believe that the ANC, not only in the Free State province, should make a consented effort to deal decisively and speedily with disciplinary matters. Because these members could have been out there actively campaigning for the African National Congress, because what is happening now? it’s just adding to the confusion.”

The ANC acknowledges the communication breakdown that transpired.

“We can only take responsibility to ensure that if there’s miscommunication that needs to be clarified, it gets clarified with those that the DC has found not to have committed serious transgression and that they can still be viewed as members of the African National Congress. It seems there was really an administrative error that took place that the decision wasn’t communicated on time. We should take responsibility as the Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC to make sure that there is proper communication between us and the DC, so that they’re also put at ease,” Mbalula explains.

Meanwhile, Professor Matebesi has advised the ANC to go back to the drawing board and resolve the error.

“The members those who have been charged need to know about that. But also other members of the African National Congress will have a key interest in this matter, remember this is not only a matter of a transgression, it was members who decided to have a parallel regional conference, what does that tells you? It seems as if there is some internal strife and fact of the matter is the ANC in the Free State will have to go to the drawing board to try and resolve or actually lay this matter to bed.”

Patrick Monyakoana who’s the only member who absconded the disciplinary hearing, has reportedly joined former President Jacob Zuma’s MK Party. While the expelled former Deputy Mangaung Metro Mayor, Mapaseka Mothibi-Nkoane revealed that she has found a new political home in former ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule’s African Congress for Transformation (ACT).