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Mabuyane elected Eastern Cape ANC chairman at troubled conference

 EAST LONDON, October 1 – Outgoing African National Congress Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane has been elected provincial chairman at the ANC’s strife torn conference in East London this weekend.
Following the voting at the conference held at the East London International Convention Centre, Mabuyane swept in with 931 votes against outgoing chairman Phumulo Masualle’s total of seven votes. 
The provincial conference was characterised by violence which saw eight delegates injured and hospitalised after violent scuffles in which chairs and other objects were thrown around in the venue. The clashes resulted in a group of delegates supporting Masualle abandoning the conference.
Despite their absence the electoral commission which presided over the election said the number of remaining delegates gave the conference a quorum to conduct the elections according to the ANC’s constitution.
Mlungisi Mvoko was elected deputy provincial chairman with 935 votes. Lulama Ngcukaitobi was elected secretary with Helen Sauls-August his deputy secretary. Babalo Madikizela was elected provincial treasurer, rounding off the top five leadership positions.
Apart from the violence, the conference was also plagued by several lengthy delays caused by the verification process of delegates and efforts to root out “ghost delegates”.
On Sunday afternoon, a group of delegates who supported Masualle’s re-election bid gathered at the East London City Hall where they briefed the media on the way forward.
Former provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said they were planning to appeal the outcome of the conference through internal ANC structures. However, while Qoboshiyane said there were no plans to take the matter to court, Eastern Cape lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi confirmed to some journalists that he would represent the group in a bid to challenge the conference outcome in the High Court later on Sunday. 

Voting for the new African National Congress Eastern Cape provincial leadership was concluded at the East London International Convention Centre early on Sunday morning despite the outbreak of violence inside the venue which saw a number of delegates backing Phumulo Masualle to retain the provincial chairmanship storming out of the conference.
The provincial conference descended into chaos on Saturday night and at least eight delegates were injured when ANC members turned on each other over disagreements about the adoption of credentials for delegates.

A number of delegates stormed out of the conference venue after midnight, alleging that they were being assaulted with chairs and “other dangerous objects” by the supporters of ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane, who is standing against Masualle for the chairmanship.
One delegate was seriously injured when he was severely beaten in the face with a microphone, according to eyewitnesses. He was among several injured people transported to hospital by ambulance.

ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said some delegates had  raised issues regarding the presence of certain branches at the conference without having held proper branch general meetings.
“There were calls to vote for [the] adoption of credentials, but certain members would not accept that; they started singing. After two to three hours of consultation chairs started to fly, some delegates started to panic and ran to the front,” Qoboshiyane said.
Members of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) deployed at the conference were supposed to guide the way forward, he said.
NEC member Bheki Cele said he was speaking to police officers behind the stage when things turned violent. “I saw people running towards our direction and police tried to protect me, saying I must lie down, but I refused,” said Cele.
Some delegates blamed provincial executive member Andile Lungisa and Amathole regional secretary Teris Ntutu for the disruptions. A delegate who declined to be named said Lungisa and Ntutu had “disputed everything, trying to disqualify every delegate from their regions if they appear to be supporting Mabuyane. Both of them were complaining about delegates that were disqualified”.
Earlier on Saturday, Ntutu alleged some branches from his region had not convened branch general meetings and had “smuggled” members to the conference. About 14 delegates were later disqualified but 10 of them did not return the tags allowing delegates inside the venue, he said.
When matters eventually calmed down, a large number of delegates returned to the conference venue while others supporting Masualle held their own gatherings outside the venue. The conference resumed and finally adopted the credentials and nominations for the top five leadership positions.

ANC national spokesman and NEC member Zizi Kodwa said about 80 percent of delegates were inside the venue. Those absent included a number of delegates who failed to arrive at all for the conference.

Mabuyane accepted nomination for provincial chairman. Also nominated was Masualle, but he was not present. NEC members said they had contacted him regarding the nomination. The other nominated members within the Masualle faction were also not present. Mabuyane was also nominated for the provincial secretary position which he has held for the past eight years.
The voting outcome looks set to be a clean sweep for the Mabuyane faction, but it is highly anticipated that the Masualle faction could bring a court interdict or legal challenge to the outcome of the provincial conference. Results are expected to be released during the course of Sunday.

The African National Congress has stepped up security at its Eastern Cape conference under way at the East London International Convention Centre [ELICC] to prevent “ghost delegates” attending, following security breaches and disruptions of discussion sessions on Friday night.
Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Buffalo City metro police, and former members of ANC military wing Umkhonto weSizwe {MK) on Saturday monitored delegates entering the conference venue. Entrance was strictly controlled and only officially authorised delegates were allowed in.
ANC Eastern Cape spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said reports had been received of security breaches on Friday at East London’s Orient Theatre, used as the registration centre for all delegates.

“We were informed that at the registration centre people were able to storm the door at the centre to the computers area and got hold of computers which is supposed to be a fortified area. We were also informed that there were some delegates who came running and moved the security from the [ELICC] main door; that is why today [Saturday] we have decided to upscale and beef up the security,” he said.
The focus at the conference appears to be on who will emerge as winner in the hotly contested position of provincial chairman, which sees current chairman Phumulo Masualle pitted against provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane. Both factions have been upbeat, although the mood inside the conference venue appears to give Mabuyane the upper hand.
The conference is working against a Saturday midnight deadline to conclude voting – the cut-off time for any conferences before the ANC’s national elective conference in December.
Qoboshiyane acknowledged that there was a problem of “ghost delegates” from the Amathole and Nelson Mandela Bay regions.
“The sterling committee, as well as credentials committee, managed to meet yesterday [Friday] for the process of cleansing the conference delegates. Delegates that were not supposed to be at the venue were removed even though some of them already had access tags; they were called to return those tags,” Qoboshiyane said.
Some delegates supposed to be at the conference from these regions had apparently been left behind. Each region had been allocated a seating area for the number of expected delegates. This would help to identify extra delegates, he said.

The African National Congress Eastern Cape conference was delayed on Friday by close to 10 hours due to disputes in the registration and verification of delegates process.
Delegates finally started streaming into the East London International Convention Centre from about 4pm, singing songs supporting their preferred candidates for the leadership election.
The delays were largely blamed on the verification of ANC Youth League delegates. Following the disbandment of various ANCYL structures in the province, there was confusion over the delegates who ought to represent the league in the conference. The provincial leadership and ANC national executive committee (NEC) deployees held a number of closed meetings to deal with the disputes, but were optimistic that the conference business would be successfully concluded.
Opening the conference, ANC provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle called on delegates to use the conference to strengthen the ANC. “The organisation that is dying starts with the killing of its youth wing. We are making the tragedy of not building the future,” he said.

The Eastern Cape was a “youthful province” requiring the dynamic of the ANCYL. He called on delegates to rise to the occasion and “put right what is wrong in the organisation”. “The diagnosis report canvases a number of subjective and objectives factors that need attention, decisiveness, and so as to stem the tide. This includes, among others, the paralysing effects of divisions and factions.”
Masualle said the alliance of the ANC, the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) was “a shadow of what it used to be”. “One wouldn’t be mistaken in believing that it was no more,” he said.
The alliance had been plagued by disagreements. “Former [ANC] president Oliver Tambo enjoined us to move arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder with our allies, friends, and supporters,” said Masualle.
He also decried the decline in the ANC’s support in urban areas. “We have lost our prized position in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.”
The delays in the verification of delegates has resulted in voting for the new leadership now expected to take place later on Saturday. The conference is working against a tight deadline to concluding voting before Saturday midnight. Masualle, who is expected to stand for a third term, faces a tough challenge from provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane.


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