Numbers stand-off threatens to collapse ANC conference

Dlamini-Zuma backers unhappy with Mantashe 'bias' and electoral agency

10 December 2017 - 00:02 By QAANITAH HUNTER and THABO MOKONE

A lack of trust in the ANC's electoral agency and loss of confidence in secretary-general Gwede Mantashe by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's supporters are threatening to collapse the party's national conference next weekend.
Dlamini-Zuma backers, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, have questioned the independence of the privately run Elections Agency after a blunder led to incorrect nominations being announced on Monday at the KwaZulu-Natal provincial general council.
The province is gunning for Mantashe, who is accused of taking sides after he declined its demand to be allocated an additional 100 delegates to the 870 it will be sending to Nasrec.
This is expected to be a matter of contention when the conference is due to agree on the number of voting delegates.Cyril Ramaphosa's backers have long suspected that Dlamini-Zuma's supporters may resort to collapsing the conference should nominations not go in their favour.
The Sunday Times has learnt the provinces led by leaders sympathetic to Dlamini-Zuma have questioned the independence of the ANC's electoral agency, demanding that provincial secretaries be directly involved in vote counting.
A provincial leader lobbying for Dlamini-Zuma said they were worried about the electoral agency, and said Mantashe was not "reliable enough to oversee the process because he has already endorsed a slate".
Mantashe has saidthere will be election observers from each province but has refused requests that the provincial secretaries be involved.
"No provincial secretary will be involved in the documentation and work of the electoral agency, but there will be observers," he told the Sunday Times.
Contention over the reliability of the electoral agency risks a dispute over the results.
Another thing that threatens the conference is the allocation of delegates, with the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, the party's largest province, bemoaning a supposed under-allocation of delegates.Members have claimed they were allocated more than 100 delegates fewer than what they were due.
Mantashe has rejected this, saying the national executive committee meeting last weekend dealt with it. "There is an understanding no province with 18% of membership will get 21% of the delegation to the conference," he said.But KwaZulu-Natal leaders would not back down.
Mantashe also put his foot down about changes to the delegate lists by provincial leaders in the pre-registration process this week. He said all delegates preregistered in KwaZulu-Natal would be verified against a list drawn up by the electoral agency, which was in charge of the nomination process. "If you change [the delegates] you will be caught," Mantashe said about the possibility of tampering.
Suffering a setback in numbers from the nomination process, the NDZ faction this week held a series of "delegate forums" across the country at which they reinforced efforts to get ANC delegates to the conference to vote for Dlamini-Zuma.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal hosted a "victory rally" yesterday in an effort to lay down the law to delegates from that province.
A source who attended a delegate forum said the events addressed by Dlamini-Zuma lobbyists were aimed at discrediting Ramaphosa. "They are telling delegates there will be no radical economic transformation if Ramaphosa wins. The economy will only change if NDZ is elected. They said Ramaphosa is not governed by ANC principles and ... we will get GEAR [growth, employment and redistribution strategy] or some other policies," the source said.
Ramaphosa's side, however, remains confident that its showing in the nomination process is enough to win the conference. ANC chief whip and Ramaphosa supporter Jackson Mthembu said the deputy president had secured the 2,600 votes required for victory. Internal ANC channels were being used to address nomination disputes.
Ramaphosa has received more branch nominations than Dlamini-Zuma.
Mthembu said that with the support of Ramaphosa sympathisers in the current NEC, at least 60 votes from the ANC Veterans League and more ballots from the executive councils of five provinces, the campaign was confident of victory.
Mthembu claimed that Dlamini-Zuma's supporters had attempted to bribe Ramaphosa delegates.
"They are offering them R50,000 for every day of the conference in exchange for support. They are even asking them to get sick because if they get sick they think they will be able to change a branch delegate. That's the level of desperation. It's quite rough and quite tough out there, but I take my hat off to our delegates who remain resolute to save our country and the ANC in the face of all these challenges," said Mthembu.
The knives are out for ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, as some party MPs plan to try to persuade the ANC national conference to boot him out of his position. MPs Mervyn Dirks and Sibusiso Radebe, who back President Jacob Zuma, told the Sunday Times they would push for Mthembu’s removal at the Nasrec gathering. “I will raise it. We want to ensure that people like Jackson get removed from [leadership] positions,” said Dirks.

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