TWO key African National Congress (ANC) regions in the Eastern Cape, OR Tambo and Amathole, are set to hold their conferences this month, providing a litmus test for President Jacob Zuma ’s support in the party’s second-largest province.
Eastern Cape provincial spokesman and local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said yesterday that the regions would hold their long-delayed regional conferences from July 22.
Mr Zuma is seeking re-election at the party’s conference in December. Those opposing him claimed to have made headway in the province, but the OR Tambo region may tilt the balance in his favour. It backed Mr Zuma in the run-up to the ANC’s conference in 2007, when it had the largest number of delegates from the Eastern Cape.
Mr Qoboshiyane said the OR Tambo conference, from May this year, was postponed when it was discovered that there were branches which were not in good standing. The branches were given time to rectify the problem.
A task team comprised of provincial and national leaders, including Eastern Cape speaker Fikile Xasa and national executive committee member Derek Hanekom , were helping to iron out the problems.
But insiders claim that the delays were linked to infighting and factional battles raging in the province, where ANC leaders opposed to Mr Zuma were campaigning hard.
OR Tambo regional chairman Thandekile Sabisa said yesterday that the task team was wrapping up the process of dealing with “disputes” raised by certain branches. About 70% of the region was ready to go to conference, he added. He was coy whether he would stand for re-election, sticking to the ANC line that the “branches will decide”.
Aubrey Matshiqi, r esearch fellow at the Helen Suzman Foundation, said support for Mr Zuma in the region was more fractured than it was ahead of the 2007 conference — and it appeared that he would face an uphill battle to win the province.
Mr Zuma has reportedly lost support in three Eastern Cape regions — Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and Alfred Nzo — and those opposing him were confident of winning both Amathole and OR Tambo. But an alternative candidate for the ANC president has not yet been punted in the province
Eastern Cape and Gauteng delegates were at the forefront of rejecting the second transition document at the ANC’s policy talks in Midrand last month, where d ebate over the concept of a second transition appeared to be a proxy for the ANC’s leadership battle.
This battle was manifesting itself through tensions between communists and nationalists in the Eastern Cape, Mr Matshiqi said. The battle in the province also centred on access to resources, Mr Matshiqi said.
Article source: http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=175911