ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe . Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe . Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

The ANC has put a halt to regional and provincial elective conferences beyond September 30.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says in a memo that structures whose mandates are due to expire can only hold their conferences next year, shifting the party's focus to its national elective conference to be held in Johannesburg in December.

The fear is that the factions that tend to crystallise around national leadership candidates and their slates are likely to loom large at those regional and provincial conferences, leading to the party being inundated with complaints from losing factions at a time when it is should be dealing with its national leadership succession.

The divisions arising from those regional and provincial conferences could also hobble the party ahead of what could be its toughest election contest yet - in 2019.

The party is at present finalising its audit process in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. KwaZulu-Natal, which was united in Polokwane in 2007, is, however, plagued by divisions.

The faction led by Sihle Zikalala backs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed President Jacob Zuma, while former chairman Senzo Mchunu's faction supports Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Depending on whether or not Friday's special national executive decides to disband the provincial leadership following last week's Pietermaritzburg high court ruling, KwaZulu-Natal is likely to go to the December national conference a divided body.

Should the ANC's national executive committee disband the KwaZulu-Natal leadership, it will have to replace it with a provincial task team that will run the party in the province until permanent leaders are elected next year.

This could mean that the branches would be free to back whoever they want without the influence of provincial power brokers.

The Eastern Cape will not be affected by Mantashe's ban as its provincial conference is due to start on Friday next week, meaning it will scrape through just before the ban kicks in.

If there is a provincial leader who is likely to benefit from Mantashe's decision, it is Free State ANC chairman and premier Ace Magashule. The Free State strongman, who has been at the helm of the party in the province since 1992, faces a challenge from his deputy, Thabo Manyoni.

His performance at a provincial conference would have been a great test of his strength. The flipside is that he will have to fight tooth and nail to keep his seat next year if he is not elevated to the position of secretary-general in December.

- The Times

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