- Waterberg branch leaders storm Limpopo ANC headquarters amid rising tensions
- They accuse Provincial Secretary Nocks Seabi of tempering with national conference delegates list
PIET RAMPEDI and KARABO NGOEPE
DISGRUNTLED ANC branch leaders have stormed the party’s Limpopo headquarters, accusing Provincial Secretary Nocks Seabi of tempering with elected delegate lists in a bid to influence the outcome of next month’s elective national conference.
About 200 members from the Waterberg region showed up unannounced at Frans Mohlala House in Polokwane on Tuesday, forcing party leaders to call the police for help in defusing tensions.
Baying for Seabi’s blood, they chanted slogans and threatened chaos unless their concerns were addressed before next week’s provincial general council (PGC) – a gathering of branches to consolidate nominations for leadership positions ahead of the national conference.
This came as President Jacob Zuma invited all seven ANC presidential hopefuls for dinner at his official residence in Pretoria last week, in what three of the five regional leaders in Limpopo said was a unity effort worthy of support.
Limpopo and Gauteng are due to hold their PGC’s next week after Western Cape and Northern Cape completed theirs last weekend.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa received overwhelming support from the two provinces while Dr Nkosazana Dlanini-Zuma came second.
Waterberg, the smallest region in Limpopo with 69 branches, is a hotly contested territory between supporters of Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa’s.
Toli Mashamaite, Waterberg regional secretary, confirmed that branch leaders from his region took their grievances to Seabi’s office.
He said the branches were concerned about what they believe was Seabi’s unilateral decision to change conference delegates in favour of Dlamini-Zuma. They also accused him of having failed to address delegates’ discrepancies that led to the regional conference collapsing earlier this month.
“Branches also wanted to verify the delegates, because you will remember the packages of the branches of Waterberg stayed for a very long time in the office of the Provincial Secretary. In the process, there was mistrust as well. That’s why they wanted to verify and I think it’s their right,” Mashamaite said.
“They wanted to submit to the leadership issues that we promised to address before the conference. Unfortunately, there was no one to listen to them or address them.”
Seabi’s refusal to give both the regional and branch leadership access to the original branch delegates forms was another source of “suspicions”, Mashamaite added.
According to several ANC members who spoke on condition of anonymity, they arrived at Frans Mohlala shortly after noon on Tuesday. However, Seabi refused to meet them and instead called the police who rushed to the scene in two vans, a minibus and a Nyala.
As tensions rose, the group entered the yard and eventually stormed the building.
When African Times arrived at the scene, the group was exchanging hash words with ANC security officials and other leaders as police kept a watchful eye.
Shortly after 17:00, police cars escorted a black Mercedez Benz out of the building at high speed as the crowd screamed and gave chase.
The luxury car, which was said to be carrying Seabi, was whisked away and driven against oncoming traffic on Biccard Street – a one-way street opposite Frans Mohlala – before turning into Jorrisen Street and disappearing into the Polokwane CBD.
Seabi couldn’t be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered. Meanwhile Mashamaite, his counterpart from Mopani Basikopo Makamu and Vhembe ANC chairperson Tshitereke Matibe said their regions were ready for the national conference.
They said they also supported Zuma’s unity effort which saw him invite Dlamni-Zuma; Ramaphosa; ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize; National Chairperson Baleka Mbete; and national executive committee (NEC) members Jeff Radebe and Lindiwe Sisulu for dinner.
Mashamaite said 65 of the region’s 69 branches will take part in the PGC after completing their branch general meetings (BGM’s) successfully.
Waterberg has not openly pronounced on its preferred presidential candidate but it’s thought to be largely supporting Ramaphosa.
“I support any effort that he [Zuma] is doing to make sure the ANC is united and the country ultimately is united,” Mashamaite added.
Matibe said 114 of Vhembe’s 117 branches would take part at the PGC. The rest, which are all in the Lim345 Municipality, have failed to hold successful BGM’s.
“We have pronounced a long time ago in our RGC [regional executive committee), and even the nominations are towards that. Out of the 120 branches, 115 are for Cyril and five are for NDZ,” Matibe said.
Although Zuma’s unity effort should have been done before the nominations, it was worth supporting, he added.
“It was supposed to have been done a long time ago, but we appreciate it. Better late than never,” Matibe said.
Makamu, whose pro-Dlamini- Zuma region is sending 119 of its 124 branches to the conference, concurred.
“Any call by anybody within the ANC that may bring about unity and eliminate contestation will be welcome by us as a region,” said Makamu.
“But comrades must understand that if you are not in the top six, it doesn’t mean you are not required.”
In Gauteng, Cyril Ramaphosa seems to be enjoying massive support than Dlamini-Zuma.
In Johannesburg, over 90% of the branches have nominated him for the position of party president, according to sources in the region.
“128 branches qualified in Johannesburg to go to conference and 118 have successful completed the process. The other 10 won’t be going because they didn’t have proper meetings.
“Out of the 118, six of them preferred Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma as President and 112 of them preferred Cyril Ramaphosa,” said one source.