Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Jesse Duarte. Picture: MARK WEST
Jesse Duarte. Picture: MARK WEST

As the hangover from the ANC’s national conference in December continues, the party’s secretariat was called into line at last weekend’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting over its report on the Eastern Cape.

The NEC rejected the report, which, according to sources, was full of inaccuracies.

The secretariat, led by Zuma allies Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte, is said to have presented a report on discussions in the NEC over the dissolution of the Eastern Cape party leadership — aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

It is understood that the secretariat presented a report on the national working committee (NWC) meeting that did not accurately reflect the discussions on the Eastern Cape.

The NWC discussions indicated that a political solution should be found, while the secretariat’s report said the ANC Eastern Cape provincial executive committee should be dissolved and replaced by a task team.

The NEC rejected the report, according to a statement from the NEC. NEC sources said that the report from Magashule’s office had to be rejected because it did not reflect the content of the discussions in the NWC.

This was raised strongly by Deputy President David Mabuza.

Duarte, Business Day was told, apologised for inaccuracies.

The ANC conference in the Eastern Cape descended into chaos in 2017 in the run-up to the national conference.

At the time, NEC member Sbu Ndebele was given the task of looking into the situation after the losing faction lodged a dispute with Luthuli House.

However, the NWC and the NEC found that there were inaccuracies in the Ndebele report. This was not reflected in the briefing from Magashule’s office.

The NWC was rapped over the knuckles for taking decisions on the appointments of premiers to provinces without consulting the NEC.

Two premiers were appointed — for the Free State and Mpumalanga — without being discussed by the NEC. However, the NEC endorsed the appointments of the pair.

The ANC appointed Mpumalanga co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Refilwe Mtsweni and ANC Women’s League deputy president Sisi Ntombela as premiers-elect for Mpumalanga and the Free State, respectively.

It is understood that despite the procedural misgivings, the appointments of the pair were endorsed and welcomed by the party’s women’s league.

Former president Jacob Zuma was present at the weekend meeting, which also decided that no members of ANC structures could support those facing criminal charges in party regalia.

Zuma is set to appear in court on April 6.

The party discussed the national election and commissioned research on its prospects in 2019, after Ramaphosa’s takeover in December. He has thus far rung in far-reaching changes at a high level, but whether this will reverse voter apathy among traditional ANC supporters remains to be seen.

It is understood the NEC said that the party needed to capitalise on the "positive mood" that Ramaphosa’s leadership had brought on. Discussions on early national elections were held at the meeting.

The ANC had "warmed up" to the idea of an early election, but it was premature to decide on, said party sources.

This follows reports that the ANC was considering calling an early election in 2019 to capitalise on the positive mood in the country.