Yesterday The Citizen spoke to several disgruntled members of the provincial party, who made it clear they did not recognise regional leaders elected a few months ago, saying they were a product of “dubious processes”. “We expressed our unhappiness over processes [and] that led to the election of the current leadership,” said a former branch chairperson in the ANC’s lower South Coast, which includes Port Shepstone.
“Genuine members were thrown out of branch meetings and a few people were then allowed to make important decisions. During the regional conference itself, people were kicked out for no reason.”
His views echoed those of a member in the eMahleni region, which includes Newcastle. “We have made it clear that we are not going to recognise this leadership and we have called for fresh elections,” he said.
The lower coast regional conference, held at the Ugu Sports and Leisure in Port Shepstone in November, went ahead despite incidents of violence that saw several delegates thrown out of the conference by security guards. “You cannot say the elections were free and fair if people who were raising genuine issues were kicked out,” said the former branch chairperson. “Since November, we have been writing letters to the regional leadership, requesting that the conference be rerun.” The former chairperson claimed he was voted out of the position in his absence.
A month ago, ANC lower south coast regional spokesperson, Sipho Dlamalala denied that local members were disgruntled, but yesterday he admitted the regional leadership was in possession of a letter of complaint from members unhappy with the election results. “We have forwarded the letter to the ANC provincial leadership. While the complaints are being investigated, we would like to appeal to those members who are not happy to allow processes to unfold,” he said.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala, who had stressed that communication between the ANC provincial leadership and ruling party members was an internal matter, admitted the complaints were being looked into. Calls for regional conferences be reconvened in the province intensified after the ANC national leadership’s decision that eThekwini’s disputed conference of last month, be reheld.
It had emerged that branches that did not meet the party’s requirements had been allowed to participate. The eThekwini regional committee led by its chairperson, James Nxumalo, which was elected during the disputed gathering, has since been disbanded.