NEWLY elected Limpopo ANC secretary Soviet Lekganyane says good municipal governance, organisational stability and dealing with the manipulation of party processes are among his list of priorities.
The former Coghsta MEC has inherited a party in its weakest state in many years –after it failed to organise two regional conferences while the third one in Vhembe had to be reconvened late last year due to irregularities.
In Mopani, the conference was postponed repeatedly due to alleged gate-keeping, membership fraud and vote rigging. The Peter Mokaba and Waterberg regions are currently led by regional task teams after the provincial executive committee (PEC) failed to organise credible elective conferences months after the mandates of the regional executives expired.
In fact, the Waterberg REC remained in office a year after its three-year term of office had lapsed. Under the previous PEC, the ANC lost three municipalities to an opposition coalition after the 2016 local government elections and had none of its municipalities obtaining a clean audit this year.
Lekganyane says he is aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
“Today we are sitting with Waterberg where the term of the REC went beyond four years when it was supposed to be three years. And even after four years when we tried to convene the regional conference it failed. So, those are some of the things that become very clear to both myself and comrade Basikop [Makamu] to make sure that you no longer have a situation like that in the process,” Lekganyane said.
“If any region of the ANC must be taken to a conference, that conference must take place within a reasonable time and preparations must be made on time – at least four or five months towards the expiry of a term.”
He says that time will allow the ANC to deal with potential disputes lodged by branches way before the conference.
Lekganyane says he won’t tolerate gate-keeping in the organisation – a phenomenon where some leaders prevent targeted members from participating in ANC activities.
“One other problem we have, which our comrades at national are also sized with, is problem where a person goes to a branch of the ANC this Sunday and he is allowed to participate because he is a member. After two months when he goes back, his membership form is no longer there and nobody explains. They just tell you, you can’t participate; we don’t have you here in our file. The problem is membership fraud; gate-keeping and manipulation where when you join the ANC people want to ask you questions: where did you get this form? When they are supposed to accept you. Members of the ANC must not be threatened by new membership because they come there to strengthen them, make them vibrant and expose them to certain perspectives.”
Lekganyane says the party in the province will reconstitute its elections structures because half of the members of the previous PEC have not been re-elected.
“It is always good when your election campaign is led by elected leadership. Those comrades who were there before, we are not going to dump them. They will play a role within those structures were they were appointed, but the elected leadership should lead the campaign.”
He says the ANC is relatively stable and does not have incidences of chaos that are seen in other provinces.
Lekganyane points to the “calm, composed and smooth processes” that marred the preparations for the recent provincial conference.
“But at the level of governance of municipalities, we are having serious challenges. You know, it’s an open secret [that] we lost Thabazimbi, Modimolle and Mookgophong. Polokwane and Maruleng are frontier municipalities and anytime they can go unless we do things differently. We have to find a way in which a practice of doing proper things is habituated in the deployees of the African National Congress. There are certain things that when you hear about them in the media [that] so, and so did these things, you get frustrated. How has it been possible that a deployee of the ANC can allow such an undesirable act to happen in his or her area of jurisdiction? I think we just have to come out very strongly and confront some of these tendencies that give the administration of the ANC a bad name.”