ANC Free State conference: Ntombela’s supporters mulling legal action after Dukwana’s election



ANC political dynamics are threatening to turn new allies into enemies as tension emerged following the election of Mxolisi Dukwana as ANC Free State provincial chairperson, defeating Premier Sisi Ntombela, in a tight race for the top spot.

ANC Free State conference

Ntombela was beaten by Dukwana in a tight race with a difference of only 45 votes. But her supporters disputed the outcome and threatened to take the matter to court as the ANC did not entertain their concerns about allegations of vote-rigging.

ALSO READ: Mxolisi Dukwana elected ANC Free State chairperson

Political analyst based at the University of the Free State, Professor Sethulego Matebesi, said if it was true that there were irregularities in the leadership election process, and this was a serious matter.

“These are serious allegations, once delegates raise challenges about the rigging of the results, that’s very serious,” Matebesi said.

Ntombela could join forces with the followers of the former premier and ex-ANC secretary-general,  Ace Magashule, to challenge the results in court.

Earlier Magashule backers through their lawyers were reportedly drafting papers to interdict the entire provincial conference, but the matter did not materialise as the conference went ahead without any paper served on its organisers.

RELATED: Magashule’s faction ‘drafting court papers’ to interdict ANC Free State conference

Ntombela herself was non-committal about the planned litigation against the ANC.

She told The Citizen in an interview that she understood that her followers dispute the 650-figure total voting delegates that the conference adopted.

While she was not prepared to take the ANC to court, the premier was still interested to know why the numbers did not tally.

“There are some things they are complaining about, but let me hear from them what they say. I am aware of the delegates who complained about being removed from the process but I will discuss it with them,” Ntombela said.

Alleged regularities

The disgruntled members confirmed the figure was adopted but they were concerned that the figures did not tally with the results. They claimed the elections were rigged and threatened to go to court.

One delegate said there were lots of mistakes that were committed at the conference, including by members of the ANC national executive deployed at the conference. He said there were serious matters that were raised by concerned delegates that were not entertained.

The dissatisfied members claimed some branches had more delegates in attendance at the party’s provincial conference when they qualified for fewer delegates to be there and the extra delegates had voted at the conference.

Conference ‘free and fair’

They suspected some mischief to manipulate the election to produce a certain outcome that favoured Dukwana.

But some delegates disagreed saying the credentials were adopted by all delegates including the 650 figure for voting delegates.

“You cannot question a process after you participated in it,” one delegate said.

But the members of the ANC election committee, observers from various structures and individual delegates concurred that the election of the top five officer bearers or the provincial executive committee (PEC) was “free and fair”.

But later Ntombela’s followers met in different caucus meetings outside the venue to strategise on the next step to be followed on the matter.

Ntombela congratulates Dukwana

However, Ntombela congratulated Dukwana for his victory. She asked the new leadership to concentrate on the ANC unity in the province.

About her loss to Dukwana, Ntombela said as an ANC member she was premier as a deployment by the ANC.

“I can be deployed anywhere, but I understand what is happening because I am a politician,” she said.

Ntombela served under Magashule as premier and was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as premier to replace Magashule after he was elected as ANC secretary-general in December 2017.

But observers said the tension over the results could turn Dukwana and Ntombela into enemies despite the fact that they were working closely together during their tenure as chairperson and deputy chairperson of the former Free State ANC interim provincial committee.

Ntombela also appointed Dukwana as her MEC for local government and traditional affairs.

However, Ntombela did not appear to be ready for a legal battle with Dukwana, but adopted a more conciliatory tone at the disputed results. She instead left the matter to be ventilated publicly by her supporters.

President Cyril Ramaphosa closed the conference with an address to the delegations. His message dealt with unity and renewal of the ANC in the Free State.

NOW READ: Ntombela challenges Dukwana for ANC Free State chair, Manyoni vying for deputy


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