ANC cracks widening

The unpublished City Press report on the O.R. Tambo aborted elective congress

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Oudtshoorn. 13 August 2012. 06h00.

OR Tambo: a region in crisis
By: Sabelo Skiti and Carien du Plessis of City Press

Allegations of sexual harassment between members of different factions and fights about access to the ANC are but some of the unintended consequences of the aborted elective congress in the ANC’s OR Tambo region last weekend.

The region is the second-largest in the party and the largest and most influential in the Eastern Cape, from where about a fifth of the ANC’s delegates to its national elective congress in December in Mangaung will come.

Opponents of President Jacob Zuma, many among which are supporters of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s bid for the party’s leadership, aimed to use this region to test their strength.

The region’s leaders are opposed to a second term for Zuma.

They accused his supporters in the party’s provincial leadership of deliberately sabotaging the congress after seeing they could not win.

The provincial leaders, who adjourned the congress on Monday seconds before the election results could be announced, almost resulting in leaders exchanging blows on stage, have subsequently declared the region’s old leadership dissolved.

But the region has refused to recognise this, saying they won the congress by one vote.

This week armed guards chased away officials from the province who wanted to take over the region’s office in Mthatha.

Regional secretary Jackson Sabona has written a letter to secretary-general Gwede Mantashe begging for intervention.

In the letter he blames provincial deputy secretary Helen Sauls-August for the inconsistency between the votes cast in the congress and the amount of delegates attending – the reason why the congress was collapsed.

Sabona alleges she purposely fiddled with delegate accreditation by registering four “delegates” from Port St John’s ward 27 despite Port St Johns having only 20 wards, something provincial leaders deny.

Sabona also found himself in court this week when a provincial leader in the pro-Zuma camp laid a charge of sexual harassment against him, allegedly for kissing her.

He denied this, saying she hugged and kissed him, and the case was thrown out.

Zuma’s support is fizzling out in the Eastern Cape, where three out of the province’s regions reject him outright.

These are the Sarah Baartman (formerly Cacadu), Nelson Mandela Bay, and Buffalo City regions, while Amathole – the second-biggest region in the province – seems likely to lean in the same direction after its congress next weekend.

The Chris Hani region is divided, while members in the smaller Alfred Nzo and Joe Gqabi regions are said to support Zuma.

Here is the desperate plea from the region…

OFFICE OF THE REGIONAL SECRETARY O.R. TAMBO REGION.

07 AUGUST 2012

TO: THE SECRETARY GENERAL
LUTHULI HOUSE
JOHANNESBURG
ATT: CDE GWEDE MANTASHE – FOR NWC

CC:ALL FIVE OFFICERS

AND TO:

THE PROVINCIAL SECRETARY
ANC PROVINCIAL OFFICE
CALATA HOUSE
KING WILLIAMS TOWN
ATT: CDE OSCAR MABUYANE-FOR PEC

CC:ALL PEC MEMBERS

Dear Cdes

RE: REPORT AND URGENT APPEAL FOR INTERVENTION ON THE O.R. TAMBO 5TH REGIONAL CONFERENCE, ADJOURNED ON 6TH AUGUST 2012

Receive our warm and heartfelt revolutionary greetings. This correspondence is simultaneously brought to the attention and consideration by the full PEC and the NEC as it constitutes both an appeal and a report against the purported decisions of the PWC over the O.R. Tambo 5th Regional conference. This is done to enable the PEC to deal with the matter in-conjunction with the NEC. It is not intended to undermine or flout the rules and principles of the organization.

In view of the urgency of this matter and in the spirit of seeking urgent resolution on the matter at hand, we have deemed it appropriate that this correspondence be directed both the NEC and full PEC for urgent attention and consideration. The view we take of the matter is that the seriousness which pertains to this matter requires both the attention of the NEC and full PEC as it also constitutes an appeal against the PWC which as will appear more fully in the report is central on issues which form the subject of the matter of the dispute. Centrally to this matter, are the events that took place during preparation and conducting of O.R. Tambo’s 5th Regional conference, including the un-ceremonial and un-comradeship manner in which both comrade Thandiswa Marawu and Nomakhosazana Meth disrupted and adjourned the conference, which was much against the delegates at the conference and the Electoral Commission which was chairing the session at the relevant time. It was composed of the following members i.e. cdes Mnyamezeli Booi(chairing), T. Mdukiswa, N. Cingo, B Dlulane, F. Fihlani and five representative from the five sub regions. This disruption and adjournment of a peaceful conference took place at the time when the members of the Electoral Commission and the electoral agency were on the podium to present the results on the election of the five (5) officials for the Region. The elections were already conducted peacefully according to the reports that we received from the Electoral Commission and other relevant committees including the NEC deployees. We also witnessed this peaceful process as we were participating in the proceedings.

Perhaps, it would be apposite to sketch out some background facts which give rise to the issues that in our view call for determination by both the NEC and the PEC in order for this matter to be amicable resolved.

BACKGROUND

We all understand and accept that the PEC under the supervision of the NEC has a power to oversee the running of a regional conference. Overseeing would mean being present, partake to a relevant extent in the running of the conference. Indeed, the PEC through its members deployed in O.R. Tambo who are Cdes Nomakhosazana Meth, Thandiswa Marawu, Helen August (Deputy Secretary), Sokhanyile, Phumelele Ndamase, Phumullo Masuale, Ayanda Matiti, Mzonke Ndabeni, Michael Peter, Mlibo Qhoboshiyana and others were in this conference. The NEC was represented by Cde Nyami Booi, Thandi Tobias, Fikile Xasa and Derek Hanekom. Cde Derek Hanekom only participated in the initial stages of the conference before it was actually opened he left.

Cde Derek Hanekom only participated during the resolution of disputes from the branches. Perhaps in order to give a proper perspective onto this matter, we will have to reflect on the disputes that have to be resolved before the conference itself. The genesis of the whole issues as will be detailed herein below will often revert itself to the origin of the disputes, in which the PWC was always central either in its investigations and also as presiding officers over those disputes who took decisions without the REC and affected branches.

Before the BGM’s elected their delegates for the conference, the REC and PEC contingent agreed on the guidelines for the holding of BGM’s. As we were preparing for this conference, BGM’S for Branches to elect their delegates were conducted and Branches indeed selected their delegates there from. Subsequent to selection of delegates, certain branch members became dissatisfied with the nominations either on substantive or procedural grounds and they appealed. In order to maintain neutrality and fairness in resolving those appeals, the PEC established an Appeals Committee which was comprising of Cdes from NEC, namely- Nyami Booi, Fikile Xhasa and Cde Noncedo from Chris Hani region. The committee conducted its work and made determinations accordingly in terms of which certain BGM’s were confirmed and others were ordered to be convene their BGM’s. There were only eleven (11) BGM’s that were ordered to reconvene their BGM’s because of certain procedures not being followed.
Surprisingly, Cdes Ndamase, Nomakhosazana Meth and Marawu who are all members of the PWC conducted their own secret investigations on Branches and ultimately made recommendations to the PWC to nullify certain BGM’s and reconvene BGM’s. Their secret investigation also overruled the decision of the Appeals Committee by the NEC members which was constitutionally tasked to deal with the appeals from Branches. This created great confusion as Branches whose delegates were already pre-registered for the conference were now not even told that their Branches are not qualifying to attend the conference. Phumelele Ndamase, Nomakhosazana Meth, Thandiswa Marawu and Mlibo Qhoboshiyane and B. Dlulane unconstitutionally convened BGM’s over the weekend of 28th & 29th July 2012 for the conference scheduled to take place on the 3rd of August 2012. This we call unconstitutional because a decision of an Appeals Committee cannot be overturned by a structure of the PEC but rather can be overturned by the PEC itself. Branches therefore appealed against this decision and the matter was then referred to the Dispute Resolution Committee.

As we were preparing for the conference, all conference committees were formed with all the structures of the movement being represented. When we submitted our grievances towards the actions of PWC in particular the members mentioned, it was agreed that the matter be subjected to the Steering Committee which composed of officials of the PEC, REC and NEC. We sat as the Steering Committee and made determinations on these matters. Such decisions and determinations were never implemented but were shelved for determination by the conference Dispute Committee. The Dispute Committee did not sit up until the conference was officially opened. On one hand, Helen August who is the Provincial Deputy Secretary proceeded to register those disputed delegates as she was running the administration and accreditation of delegates much to the exclusion of the Region and its staff. This was very much unconstitutional again because in terms of rule 21.3 of the ANC constitution “each region holds a regional conference under the supervision of the PEC and NEC.” Holding regional conference mean, organizing, preparation and administering a regional conference whilst the province overseeing that process without taking over the process itself. This was a total usurping of the powers and functions of the regional executive.

This problem resulted in fraudulent accreditation of non-existent Branches and delegates who ought not to have attended the conference. A non-existent branch called ward 27 from Port St John’s was accredited with four (4) delegates by Helen August with her staff. The Branch is non-existent because PSJ has only 20 wards and there is no ward 27. One asks a question-where did Cde Helen August obtain delegates of ward 27 of Port St Johns? In our view the intention was to manipulate and defraud the process of accreditation and registration of delegates to pursue a factionalist agenda which is prohibited by our Movement. More than one hundred and fifty (150) delegates were replaced by Cde Helen August and her staff without the involvement of the Credentials Committee. This was intended at manipulating the outcome of the conference in favour of their preferred candidates. We feel strongly that Helen August has to be charged for her actions around the conference of O.R. Tambo.

When credentials were presented to the plenary they were seriously objected to on the basis of what we have set out above and much debate ensued over credentials. It was during this stage that the steering committee of the conference made an intervention and proposed to the plenary of the conference that the credentials be conditionally accepted pending a determination on disputed delegates by the Dispute Resolution Committee. This proposal was presented by the chairperson of the Province Cde Phumullo Masuale and it was accepted by the plenary.

Having accepted the proposal, the Dispute Resolution Committee sat and dealt with the disputes and the Dispute Resolution Committee was chaired by Cde Mnyamezeli Booi with Cde Xhasa and other committee members being part thereof. We must record that this was a committee adopted by the conference when all conference committees were presented and adopted by the plenary. The Dispute Resolution Committee came back to the plenary with its determinations which were as follows: –

1. In respect of accreditation of Branch known as ward 27 with four (4) from Port St John’s that must be deregistered and removed from accreditation;
2. In respect of the delegates from ward 20 of Ingquza Hill which were seven (7) they must be reduced by two (2) delegates meaning that, reduced from 7 to 5;
3. In respect of other appeals, the Committee dismissed them as according to it, no fault was found.

The plenary accepted this decision and directed that it be implemented accordingly. Subsequent thereafter, the credentials were formally accepted and the total number of voting delegates was presented and accepted as 587. After the adoption of the credentials and other reports, the conference was then formally handed over to the Elections Commission.

The convenor of the Electoral Commission took over the session and became in control of the session. The Electoral Agency was charged with the responsibility of conducting elections. The Electoral Agency took over the stage in order to perform its duties in terms of the general procedure for elections of the ANC. The procedure for elections which for over a number of years has been followed in the ANC is entrenched under Rule 14 of the ANC constitution. The provisions of this Rule for the purpose of this report can be summarized as follows: –

1. To prepare the ballot papers;
2. To make provisions for ballot boxes or other means of secret voting;
3. To create machinery for the counting of ballot papers and the effective supervision of the counting of votes;
4. To announce the results of all ballots and make known the number of votes received by each successful candidate;
5. To establish procedures for voting and to determine any dispute raised with regard to elections and election procedures, and to determine how any tied vote should be resolved.

Constitutionally, the Electoral Commission is reinforced in its work by the representatives from sub regions in the case of a region which was indeed the case even at this conference.
Surprisingly, Helen August was central in the activities of the electoral commission despite the fact that she was not a member of the Electoral commission as adopted by the Conference. She was preparing the voters roll and at times changing and inserting new names as elections progressed. She was full time inside the election room with a number of voting papers in her possession notwithstanding the fact she ought not to be there as a matter of principle. Cdes Phumelele Ndamase, Nomakhosazana Meth, Stella Ndabeni were getting inside and outside the election room and interferring with the election process by asking questions to the election officers. They were caring their phones using them inside and outside the election room. This is much against the constitution of the ANC which envisage free and fair elections conducted by an Independent Electoral Commission whose task and functions including its powers are clearly set out in the constitution itself. It is our contention that nobody is allowed into the election room during the voting process other than the elections staff, Commissioners and the registers observers.

During the conference Cde Stella Ndabeni acted in an unbecoming manner by amongst other things taking photos at the conference venue with her ipad, giving tags of voting delegates to some individuals who were not accredited delegates and interefering with the Electoral process. She was seen distributing voting tags and actively campaigning for her preferred candidates inside and outside the conference centre. We fervently believe her conduct to be a violation of ANC Constitution that warrants disciplinary action.

The election process for the top 5 officials was conducted and finalized according to the report received from the chairperson of the Electoral Commission. Counting was conducted in respect of each official elected. According to the Commission, it established during counting that the total number of votes received was above by four votes from the total number of accredited voting delegates which was 587. The total number of votes received according to electoral officer was 591. This then presented a challenge to the Electoral Commission and it sought intervention of the PEC Deployess at the instance of Helen August who was part of the election process and administration. She was the only person together with her staff that was responsible for the production of the voters roll. She was also responsible for accreditation of delegates including the accreditation of 4 delegates from that non-existent branch known as ward 27 of PSJ. Cdes Helen August, Phumelele Ndamse, Nomakhosazana Meth and Thandiswa Marawu all claiming to be acting on behalf of the PEC prevented and/or ordered the Electoral Commission not to announce the results but merely present what they termed irregularity on numbers. This then led to the Electoral Commission doing exactly the instructions of the above named comrades. We must record that the instructions by the mentioned members of the PEC was contradicted by the chairperson of the Election Commission comrade Mnyamezeli Booi who requested the Electoral Commission to announce the results and allow the plenary to object and dispute the results if there were grounds to do so. Comrade Mnyamezeli Booi pointed out clearly that the ANC constitution requires result to be announced before they are disputed and not vice versa. He was supported in this statement by comrade Matiti and Mziwonke Ndabeni including delegates in the plenary. Nonetheless these appeals and pleas were not heeded to by the PEC Deployees instead they fell in deaf ears.

Whilst there was still this debate, Nomakhosazana Meth, Helen August and Thandiswa Marawu unilaterally announced that the conference is adjourned and will be convened by the PEC on a date to be announced for continuation with the same credentials. This resulted in chaos and disruption as sum delegates left and others remained discussing the way forward. The remaining delegates directed that this report be prepared and an appeal be lodged to the NEC for intervention in the O.R. Tambo conference. The reasons for the intervention of the NEC were put forward as follows: –

(a) Cdes Thandiswa Marawu, Phumelele Ndamase, Nomakhosazana Meth and Sokhanyile who are all members of the PEC were seen part of the informal meetings (amahlathi) organized by the contestants in the election under the leadershipof Cde Ngozi and others and they were playing active roles;
(b) There is evidence received from witnesses who are willing to testify if called upon to do so, that cdes Thandiswa Marawu, Phumelele Ndamase, Nomakhosazana Meth and Sokhanyile undertook to do all in their power in those informal meetings to ensure that cde Ngozi and his line up emerge in the conference irrespective of whatever it may take. It is understood that these cdes undertook to even collapse the conference so that they can take over the region as the PEC if cde Ngozi does not succeed. Indeed the mentioned cdes were responsible for the unconstitutionally convened BGM’s and they are the ones who disrupted the conference itself when the results were about to be announced which were not favourable to their preffered candidate , according to the observers in the elections inside the room i.e. the representatives of sub-regions.
(c) Cde Helen August who is also a member of the PWC unconstitutionally took away the powers of the region during the conference and isolated the REC in the running of the conference affairs including administration, accreditation and production of voters roll;
(d) Cde Helen August was responsible for the accreditation of four delegates from a non- existing branch. We do not believe that it is a coincidence to have the number of voters increased by four from the total accredited number of voters when there is also a ghost branch introduced by Helen with those four delegates. Perhaps this is a package for Helen August to answer. Strange enough again, the chairperson of the election agency himself reported in the plenary that Helen was on many occasions changing the names of the voters in the voters roll by insertion of new names. It was further reported by the chairperson that certain names of delegates were missing and he would be given new pages by Helen August during the process of voting. We know that Helen August is one of the cdes determined to ensure that the Ngozi- led faction wins the region. She had on many occasions expressed herself as endorsing Cde Ngozi as her preffered candidate for the chairperson’s position in the O.R Tambo region;
(e) It was manifestly wrong and unprocedural for cdes Marawu and Meth to adjourn the regional conference in their capacity as PEC members without the involvement of the Steering Committee and plenary in the matter. In any event, the session was chaired by cde Mnyamezeli Booi who had already given the Electoral Agency a ruling to present the results. The adjournment of the meeting was purely unlawful and u procedural and it constituted a violation of the ANC constitution. The behavior of these cdes would have calamity consequences in the future of this organization much that it needs censure at this very initial stage;
(f) The conference was run by the PWC who also collapsed it purposely and it cannot be expected that they have a courage and ability to conduct a peaceful and successful conference in the future and hence recourse is made to the NEC for intervention and leadership guidance. The contest in the O.R. Tambo regional conference is no longer by cde Ngozi but it is by the PWC on behalf of cde Ngozi much to the disadvantage of the other contestants. This is a serious violation of ANC democratic practices.

Accordingly we seek the NEC’s intervention and in such intervention we propose the following process to be followed so that the matter is amicably dealt with to the satisfaction of everybody involved: –

1. That the NEC supervise the continuation of 5th O.R. Tambo Regional conference which must be convened by the REC, alternatively the steering committee of the conference which was adopted and such conference to be continued over one day;
2. That the NEC deploy at least one of its officials to supervise strictly the continuation of this conference;
3. That the PWC members comprising of cdes Helen August, Thandiswa Marawu, Phumele Ndamse, Sokhanyile, Meth, Mlibo Qhoboshiyane including Stella Ndabeni be immediately removed from all committees of the conference and be barred from participating in the administration of the conference in whatever form of whatsoever nature save for mere attendance if desiring to so attend;
4. That a new voters roll be prepared with the same accredited 587 voting delegates and handed over to sub regional secretaries for scrutiny and verification before they are handed over to the Electoral Commission who must conduct the elections accordingly;
5. That the electoral commission be directed to announce the results of the elections and the numbers obtained by each candidate in accordance with the ANC constitution;
6. That all powers for the running of the remaining sessions and administration be returned to the region and conference committees who should exercise their powers without interference from any structure.
7. That Cde Mnyamezeli be immediately relieved and replaced of his duties as the chairperson of the Electoral Commission since he proved to be incapable of discharging duties entrusted upon him.

In the totality of this presentation, we are of the firm view and belief that it would be politically correct to make intervention by the NEC in the running of the O.R. Tambo regional conference. We may further take this opportunity to request that the statements issued by Mlibo Qhoboshiyane to the effect that the OR Tambo region will be taken over by the PEC be corrected and that he be ordered to refrain from making such statements as they are inflammatory and misleading to the members of theANC and public in general. The constitutional and political position on this matter is as follows: – as the conference is adjourned, not collapsed, the region is in a conference and conference committees as endorsed by the conference are in charge for the affairs of the conference.
The officials of the REC in their capacity as members of the steering committee are responsible for the day to day administrative decisions for the conference, in this case the affairs of the office. There is no disbandment of the region and it cannot be disbanded at this stage since the conference is still in session up until its finalizes its business where after a new leadership will be elected and take over.

Your urgent intervention is sought herein

Comradely Yours

_________________
J.N. Sabona {O.R. Tambo Regional Secretary}

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