The African National Congress’ (ANC’s) provincial conference in the Free State is expected to go ahead as planned over the weekend after many delays.
The conference has been postponed several times due to the failure of regions, which cited interference with processes by the interim provincial committee (IPC), to convene their elective conferences.
The ANC’s Free State region has not had leadership since the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) declared the province’s previous conference unlawful in 2021.
The province is led by an interim team headed by Mxolisi Dukwana.
Addressing the media on Friday, ANC national executive committee (NEC) deployee David Mahlobo said the conference will get underway at Imvelo Safari Lodge in Bloemfontein despite the delays caused by the registration process.
Mahlobo indicated that Free State had surpassed the 70% threshold for holding a conference since the party’s verification process had established that 242 ANC branches in the province had qualified.
“This ninth provincial conference of the ANC meets the constitutional requirements. The province has 319 potential branches of the ANC that are eligible and should have undergone their processes.
“The report that has been signed by the secretary-general of the ANC [states that] we needed a minimum of 70% of qualifying branches that will be able to sit in this conference,” he said.
ALSO READ: Free State ANC infighting threatens Ramaphosa’s renewal project
The conference, which is expected to conclude on Sunday, will have about 900 delegates “participating in the media”, according to Mahlobo.
“The real owners of the conference that will participate with full rights as delegates is 667. Out of the 667, the leadership of the province has ensured that this conference is not a conference of leadership but of branches.”
Mahlobo also conceded that the road towards the conference had been bumpy.
“We know that the structures in this province had to be reconstituted from scratch from branch, regional and until this provincial level where we are at.
“We are satisfied by the work of the IPC that they have done in terms of putting interim committees in branches and all of these branches now have proper structures in place. But, the road has not been smooth or easy,” he said.
Regarding disputes raised by some branches, Mahlobo also said the province’s credentials committee engaged with ANC officials – including NEC members – at Luthuli House on the matter.
READ MORE: Magashule influence, poor management behind Free State ANC’s failures to hold conference
“There are a number of instances in a number of regions where there are claims and allegations of parallel branches. The other allegation being made is the tampering with the delegates that are supposed to attend the conference.
“We need to indicate that there has been a credentials committee that the IPC have worked with our team of officials in head office and NEC members including Dina Pule, Pinky Kekana and Mzwandile Masina. They have dealt with all of the branches which had those particular issues and we are satisfied that these matters have been dealt with to our satisfaction.”
But former ANC chief Free State legislature chief whip Vusi Tshabalala insists that processes have already been rigged.
“We are here at the registration point and we are raising concern to the leadership of the ANC, everyone out there. It happened that there is already a list [circulating] and that list shows that we have been changed as delegates,” Tshabalala said.
????WATCH???? ANC Free State Provincial Conference: Former ANC Chief whip Vusi Tshabalala accuses the Party’s Provincial Interim Committee of intentional and deliberate change of Provincial conference delegates lists . #ancfs pic.twitter.com/6iaAQDeUs5— Central News (@fscentralnews) January 20, 2023