Phosa's campaign manager alleges irregularities in nominations process

08 December 2017 - 13:54 By Neo Goba
Mathews Phosa.
Mathews Phosa.
Image: Business Times

ANC veteran and presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa's campaign mananger‚ Ronalo "Ronnie"  Malomane‚ has made allegations of serious irregularities in the handling of branch meetings and the nominations process in Mpumalanga‚ ahead of the ANC’s December elective conference.

The allegations are contained in an affidavit submitted by Malomane‚ along with six others at the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday.

Various ANC branch general meetings that were held in Mpumalanga that nominated "unity" for new national leaders at the party's elective conference from December 16-20 were unlawful‚ according to Malomane.

"In the vast majority of the wards within the province‚ members of the ANC were not provided with adequate notice of an upcoming BGM‚ nor were some members invited to attend. In many cases‚ notice was only provided to members [one] or [two] days prior to the BGM‚" Malomane argued in papers.

Malomane stated in his affidavit that in many of the wards‚ a quorum was not reached and yet the meetings proceeded and members were requested to vote for delegates nonetheless.

"It is an equally well established principle of our law that the relationship between a political party and its members is a contractual one‚ the terms of the contract being contained in the constitution of the party. A violation of the provisions of the ANC constitution is accordingly a breach of the contractual obligations owed by the ANC to its members‚" Malomane stated.

Malomane pointed out that the audit membership for the "whole of Mpumalanga" was completed and concluded on or about September 2 and that there was a material failure to open the audit for queries. He said the "unfortunate outcome of the failure to open the audit of membership for queries was that many valid members in good standing were not allowed to partake in the meetings".

Malomane claimed that these members' names were consequently not reflected on the official attendance register and were either denied access to the pre-selected venue or not permitted to actively participate in the election processes.

Phosa's lobbyist made shocking claims that during the period of the BGMs‚ there were a number of complaints relating to gatekeeping.

"In one ward‚ the elected deployee in attendance of the meeting announced that any person in support of Mr [Cyril] Ramaphosa is destroying the ANC. In addition‚ members who vocally supported Mr Ramaphosa were sometimes removed from the BGMs and were excluded from partaking in the elections on this basis alone‚" said Malomane.

"Certain vocal supporters of Mr Ramaphosa were prevented from entering the venue and partaking altogether by a private security company that was present at the venue. This is despite the fact that the affected people are members in good standing‚" he said.

Malomane said this formed part of an "intentional campaign to disentitle branches from nominating a specific candidate".

Phosa's lobbyist also wants the provincial general council which was held last weekend to be declared unlawful‚ irregular and unconstitutional.

"The wishes of normal members can only be made known through the nomination process. The sole purpose of the nomination process is to provide a voice to normal members at grassroots level through which they can indicate to their representatives who they want to nominate to national leader positions‚" he claimed in court papers.

Malomane also accused Mpumalanga premier and ANC provincial chairperson David "DD" Mabuza of publicly owning "unity" despite his denials.

The majority of the branches in the province replaced the name of a candidate in their nomination form with the word "unity" at the PGC.

"The third respondent (Mabuza) has acknowledged freely in the media on or about 4 and 5 December 2017 that he owns 'unity'. The undue influence of branches by the third respondent and his supporters are aimed at forming a power base without any clear mandate to support any one of the presidential candidates‚" Malomane stated.

He said Mabuza intended to use if not abuse his position to influence the so-called "unity" nominees to vote for whichever candidate he may decide to support at the national conference.

"This therefore forms part of an intentional campaign to disentitle branches from nominating a specific candidate. The wishes of normal members can only be made known through the nomination process.

"With specific reference to the unlawful phenomenon of branches nominating 'unity' it will materially jeopardise the democratic rights and process that needs to be followed at the ANC electoral conference‚" said Malomane.

Last month‚ Phosa claimed that over 70% of BGMs in Mpumalanga were marred by corrupt activities which led to some members being beaten up by a group called "Practical Radical Economic Transformation (PRET)" for not nominating Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma.

Malomane said he tried to raise this issue internally but hit a brick wall.

He stated that these irregularities were recorded in his formal complaint submitted to the ANC's Dispute Resolution Committee which did not solve the problem thus he was heading to court.

Mpumalanga is not the only province which has been entangled in court battles relating to internal party dynamics.

Branch general meetings held in the Free State to nominate new national leaders were declared unlawful‚ irregular and unconstitutional by the Bloemfontein High Court last month. The court found that several BGMs in all four of the province’s regions were not held in accordance with the ANC’s constitution.

The Free State ANC‚ which is led by strong Zuma ally Ace Magashule‚ convened a provincial general council where it nominated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over from President Jacob Zuma as party leader. Out of 307 delegates‚ 209 nominated Dlamini-Zuma and 44 Ramaphosa.

On Monday ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said all these court cases were coming up simply because people wanted to manipulate the voting system at the ANC's elective conference and were therefore using courts as a tool to fight internal party matters.