The ANC in Eastern Cape has geared up for its 9th conference to elect new leaders in the province after multiple postponements.
The province has been marred by disputes over alleged manipulation of branch general meeting election results, allegedly by some party leaders who wanted to gain an advantage over their opponents at the provincial conference.
The conference will be held at the East London International Convention Centre over the weekend starting on Friday until Sunday.
‘You will be bribed’
Mostly anticipated is the race for chairmanship, with Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane, ANC provincial treasurer, Babalo Madikizela and and provincial legislature speaker Mlibo Qoboshiyane contesting for the prize position.
While Mabuyane is seeking a second term, Madikizela has suggested that delegates would be bribed not to vote for him.
Addressing party members at the Absa Stadium in the early hours of on Friday, Madikizela, who is also the MEC of Public Works in Eastern Cape, told the delegates “keep the money” when bribed.
“We have got f**k all. They will give you money because they are part of the establishment, they are the haves. When did we get the money? We don’t have… they have the money.
“Take the money comrades, but do the right thing. Let’s remain focused, disciplined,” he said.
“This is the most important conference in the history of the ANC in this province. Therefore we must not lose focus, we must be disciplined. You will be bribed… keep that money [and go vote]. When we close the conference on Sunday you can go shopping,” Madikizela added.
Speaking to 702 on Friday morning, Madikizela provided clarity on his comments, saying it was not the ANC provincial leadership that engages in bribery.
“It’s not necessarily the leadership itself, but in conferences, because of interest, with all other beneficiaries they try to do their best to make sure they achieve what they want,” he said.
“We must be realistic… people are called and are given money with the intention of influencing them the other way. So I am saying those [people] who might be in a tight corner and need that money that we can’t give them [they must take it],” the MEC said.
Madikizela, however, acknowledged that this was unethical.
Meanwhile, Mabuyane has assured that the conference will safe as approximately 1,500 delegates will be voting this weekend.
“We have done everything possible to make sure that we don’t degenerate to what happened in 2017,” he said during a media briefing on Friday.
“You can see the precinct, how security has been tightened, delegates will be safe,” Mabuyane added.
Regarding the bribe claims, the premier said such actions must be reported to the party’s structures.
“Whoever does that, whoever has spoken about it he must come forward and report it. It’s an act of misconduct… it’s listed in the Constitution. If you begin to do that with a purpose of influencing the outcomes that person must be attended to and be dealt with.
“So whoever spoke about this must report this matter so that it is thoroughly investigated. I don’t think we must create a narrative that seems to create a spin about this conference,” he continued.
Public Protector report
Both Mabuyane and Madikizela have been fingered in a damning report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
The report investigated alleged corruption related to late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s 2018 memorial service.
Mkhwebane’s report concluded that Mabuyane and public works MEC Babalo Madikizela, including the provincial ANC, benefited from a R1.1 million tender set aside to transport mourners to Mbizana in 2018 to a memorial service for Madikizela-Mandela.
The Public Protector found that Mabuyane, who was the MEC for economic development in 2018, personally benefited to the tune of R450,000, and the money was apparently used to fund renovations at his home.
A private company owned by Madikizela’s wife received R350,000 through the Mbizana Local Municipality, while the ANC in the province received the rest of the funds through its FNB fundraising account.
Mabuyane and Madikizela are challenging the Public Protector’s report.