Optimistic: ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe is confident the party’s elective conference in December, at which a new leader will be chosen, will go ahead as planned. Picture: SUPPLIED
Optimistic: ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe is confident the party’s elective conference in December, at which a new leader will be chosen, will go ahead as planned. Picture: SUPPLIED

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says he is bullish about the party’s elective conference in December, saying it would neither collapse nor result in a split.

Fears abound that the highly contested battle could collapse or, worse, not sit at all.

There are already court cases in four provinces that could have an effect on the gathering, in which Cyril Ramaphosa will square off against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and others for the coveted post of ANC president.

Collapse concerns

Two national executive committee (NEC) members, one backing Ramaphosa, raised concern about the potential for collapse. One of the members said the Eastern Cape gathering in September — at which delegates threw chairs at one another, leaving scores injured — could possibly play out at national level in December.

Campaigners for Dlamini-Zuma also told Business Day there was the potential for collapse and further litigation should the conference not go the way certain groups hoped for.

But Mantashe described these views as "factional", saying the conference "will not collapse".

He also said there was "no way" the conference would not sit.

It is unclear what will happen if the conference does not go ahead or collapses.

Sthembiso Mshengu, the spokesman for the applicants in the KwaZulu-Natal court saga and a Ramaphosa supporter, said there was no provision in the party’s constitution for an elective conference collapse.

"Unfortunately, in our constitution there is no provision because there has never been any thought in our lifetime that there could be a possibility of a national conference collapsing," he said.

"It’s a living document — you get to develop it as you confront challenges and I think towards this conference we can see a possibility because nobody knows how to extend the term of the NEC."

When asked whether the ANC had prepared for a possible split after the conference, Mantashe said: "We are planning for life here, not death."

Preparations for the gathering were steaming ahead after 90.4% of the party’s 2,731 branches had concluded the nomination process by Tuesday this week.

The deadline for branch general meetings had been extended to this weekend.

Mantashe said that as of Wednesday afternoon, KwaZulu-Natal still had 122 branch meetings outstanding, the largest number out of all the provinces.

On Monday Business Day reported that almost 100 branches had lodged disputes.

The Eastern Cape had 71 branch meetings outstanding, Free State 29, Gauteng 41, Mpumalanga three, Limpopo 69, the North West 40 and the Western Cape 48.

The Northern Cape was the only province to have completed all branch general meetings and had already held its provincial general council.

The ANC was limiting the number of guests who would be attending the December conference to ensure the party was given the space to hold the conference "comprehensively", under "conditions that are welcoming", the
party said.

It was preregistering conference delegates in the provinces ahead of time so the accreditation could proceed smoothly.

The governing party is also expecting its provinces to complete provincial general councils by next weekend.

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