President Jacob Zuma jetted straight into Cape Town after attending the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to rein in the party’s embattled leadership in the province, announcing that a trio of “interim caretakers” will be deployed to run the party’s affairs.
The ANC in the province has been plagued by factional infighting, which was exacerbated by criminal and disciplinary procedures being instituted against its provincial chairman, Marius Fransman and provincial secretary, Faiez Jacobs.
The party’s top six met with the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! – Cape Town on Monday to relay “face to face” the decisions taken by the party’s national working committee (NWC) regarding Fransman and Jacobs.
The NWC last week directed Fransman to “step aside” pending the outcome of the police investigation into sexual harassment allegations levelled against him, and resolved to suspend Jacobs pending his response to the assault charge laid against him.
After almost two hours in a closed meeting, Zuma and the rest of the top six emerged with secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, confirming that Fransman had been asked to step aside for the duration of the investigation into the case against him.
Jacobs was also asked to “step aside” for the duration of his disciplinary process.
“It is in the interest of protecting both of them and the ANC because they must go through that process and not have the burden of carrying out the load of dealing with the ANC issues. Every time they talk about the ANC they are asked about something else,” Mantashe said.
He said after a “very serious discussion” it was “decided not the dissolve the PEC”.
“The PEC is intact, but we decided to deploy two or three members of the NEC to be full-time caretakers of the PEC,” he said.
Mantashe said the selection process for the caretakers was still under way.
“We will have a caretaker in the office of the chairperson and a caretaker in the office of the secretary, but as we are discussing the actual details we said we may need a third person who may actually be more hands-on in the administration,” he said.
Mantashe indicated that once the cases against the pair were finalised, an assessment would be made whether the caretakers would continue to run the provincial office for an extended period.
“My assumption was that because we are looking at the state of the PEC it may go beyond just this period of suspension, so that we stabilise the PEC in the province,” he said.
Jacobs’s assault case was struck off the roll by the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on a technicality, but there is still an internal ANC disciplinary case against him.
Mantashe said Jacobs had requested that the matter be transferred from the provincial disciplinary committee (PDC) to the national committee.
“That’s what we are going to do. A member has this right if he thinks he will be prejudiced by a disciplinary taking place close to the occurrence of the transgression,” he said.
Mantashe said that as provincial secretary, Jacobs has jurisdiction over the PDC, and if he wanted a fair process he could escalate the matter to a higher body.
Despite the dark cloud hanging over the province’s ANC leadership, Mantashe said the party still had faith in the leadership structures.
“Regions in the Western Cape, all of them, are in good shape. All the regions are operational, they are functional and that is where the base of the organisation is… The regions are stable and to us that gives us a basis to believe that the Western Cape is in good shape,” he said.
Mantashe said they would report back to all six regions of the ANC in the province on the decisions taken.