Below is an interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with Mr Oscar Mabuyane, the recently appointed Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape Province.
Interviewer: You were recently elected Chairperson of the Eastern Cape ANC with approximately 931 votes. The former Chairperson has approached the East London High Court to interdict the results. What is the basis for the interdict, and indeed, what is your response?
Oscar Mabuyane: They approached the East London High Court to interdict the Conference. We are still waiting for an application from them for review, and for the setting aside of the Conference – they have not yet moved on that. So, it was more of an academic exercise, because when they went to court, we had already moved, in terms of the Conference that had already elected leadership. This is why I think that even the Judge could not see the basis for that application.
Please could you comment on the violence which erupted between your supporters, and supporters of Masualle?
I must express a deep regret. It is a regrettable situation, and we as the elected leadership have decided to work hard to ensure that it does not happen. Particularly, it was a well-orchestrated plan done with some of our leaders involved. You can see how it was executed. Sadly, there were people who were just disrupting the Conference when they were adopting credentials, refusing to adopt credentials. And they had no basis, they were just arrogantly demonstrating hooliganism which we could not understand, because all regions and regional secretaries were in agreement with reference to the credentials, as they were above board – because, everything was done in terms of validation, and verification.
So, clearly you could see that now it has reached a point where certain people, somewhere, somehow, sat down and plotted to ensure that, if this does not happen; do this, and if that does not happen; do that, to a point where the ANC had to be embarrassed in the way that it was embarrassed. It is a very concerning matter, and we think that people must really respect the ANC and appreciate their ANC privileges, and being elected as leaders. Because, if you are elected as a leader, that does not necessarily mean can that you must only be a leader as much as you want, because leaders of the ANC are elected by membership. So, we are very remorseful of that, because all that happened later on for almost three hours was people watching disrupters, disrupting the Conference; throwing bottles of water at us, as leadership. The delegates ended up taking the issue upon themselves to the point of removing elements (from) outside of the Conference.
So, some had the chance to leave, because they were part of the faction which was disruptive; not necessarily that the Conference was flushing out everyone. And, those who were prepared to be in the Conference; some of them came back, no one chased them away, they observed, they sat there. It was a question of ill-disciplined people who were just agitated, to the point of not accepting the Conference to go forward.
What are your aspirations for the Eastern Cape ANC under your leadership?
As the ANC in the Eastern Cape, and ANC as an organisation, we are always going forward with unity and cohesion, so we will be working hard in picking up from where the previous leadership left off, in ensuring that the province enjoys stability through the unity of the ANC, and cohesion of the ANC leadership. That is what is going to be our priority, and that it will give us an opportunity and space to perfectly implement decisions of the ANC, policies of the ANC, manifestos of the ANC, in government. So, we are prepared. We are extending an olive branch, and we are reaching out to these other Comrades, who we think are now grouped to be ‘disgruntled Comrades’ and also to begin to send a message, that we as leadership of the ANC, must not take the ANC for granted, and think that “the ANC can only be properly lead, if is led by us – other people are not really ‘ANC people,’ enough”. That is the message we are trying to carry. But, we are prepared, we think that now, we are elected, and we have a responsibility to unite the ANC, and it is a matter of must, it is not a matter of choice. So, we will have to work hard to ensure that we bring back unity and stability to the ANC in the province.
Is there anything that you would like to add, on behalf of the ANC Eastern Cape, or yourself?
On behalf of the ANC in the Eastern Cape, we really apologise to public supporters of the ANC for the incidents that took place. Clearly, that was beyond our control; it was a question of allowing the very rude elements within the ANC to come into the ANC and do as they wish, as they were not listening to anyone who was prevailing, or calling them to order.