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ANC women’s league unlikely to elect new leaders before party holds December national conference

ANC women’s league unlikely to elect new leaders before party holds December national conference

The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) is unlikely to choose new leaders before the party holds its national conference in December. 

This came out during the first media briefing by the league’s newly-constituted national task team (NTT) at Luthuli House on Tuesday. 

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian on the sidelines of the briefing, national coordinator Maropene Ramokgopa said the league will still have voting rights during the December conference. 

“The delegates we are going to take as the delegation of the ANCWL might not even be the NTT [national task team], it might be any branch member of the ANCWL, so that is how it works. We will be invited as a league [with] the voting rights of a league,” she said. 

This could mean that the league’s leaders such as Bathable Dlamini might be cut at the knees in any attempts to exert power and influence in the election of the new ANC leadership in December. With the national task team having been given nine months to hold its conference, this also means the league is unlikely to endorse any of its members or preferred candidates to go up against the party’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa. 

The national task team held its first meeting on Monday, where the former top brass handed over their books. This included a detailed organisational report by former secretary general Meokgo Matuba. 

Dlamini, who is due to appear before the party’s integrity committee for her conviction for perjury, made the cut in the national working task team (NWTT), which will deal with the day-to-day agenda of the league, while controversial and outspoken leader Nomvula Mokonyane, who has been tipped to lead the league in the past, failed to get in.

Another league leader who was glaringly absent from the national working task team was former treasurer general Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who was the league’s preferred candidate for the same position in the ANC at the ruling party’s 2017 Nasrec conference. 

During her tenure as bookkeeper, the league’s finances were under strain. Although Nkoana-Mashabane has not been blamed for the ailing finances, during her term over R10-million went missing from the league’s kitty dedicated to its Malibongwe Women’s Development Trust, which is meant to help small-scale organisations headed by women. 

Ramokgopa said the national working task team was established to ensure a generational and geographical balance.

“There was no vote of confidence on anyone. The members of the NTT, which were in the previous national executive committee, did not come as a unit. They came as individuals,” she said, adding that the NTT members would divide their  work among each other in different subcommittees ahead of the ANC policy conference taking place later this month. 

She said it had been acknowledged that the league had no organisation, leading to a decision that all structures whose term of office had lapsed should be disbanded ahead of the league’s conference, expected to take place later this year.

The league was disbanded in April after the ANC accepted a recommendation from Thandi Modise, who was appointed by the national executive committee (NEC) to head a panel to evaluate the status of the league ahead of its conference.

This was after Dlamini was found guilty of lying under oath during an inquiry about her role in the 2018 South African Social Security Agency grant payments debacle. She was minister of social development at the time. 

In an extended national working committee (NWC) meeting in April, Dlamini fought for the position of task team convenor but this was rejected, with Ramaphosa’s allies arguing she would use the task team to ensure she emerged as the league’s president for another term.

In June, the NEC adopted a recommendation by the NWC that the former speaker of the national assembly, Baleka Mbete, lead the task team through the position of convenor. 

Ramaphosa’s adviser, Maropene Ntuli, would be the coordinator, along with another of the president’s allies, Free State women’s league leader MaQueen Letsoha, charged with the league’s books.

In February, the M&G reported that Matuba had delivered a damning report revealing that the league had no functioning branches, regions and provincial structures in most provinces. 

Matuba is said to have highlighted another problem — that five of the women’s league’s provincial secretaries were not working full-time and had been deployed to the government. Insiders also said the NWC heard how branch audits on the league’s readiness for a conference were moving at a snail’s pace because the branches were dysfunctional.

Matuba said the mandates of the league’s structures had expired, that there was very slow intake of new members and many of its branches failed to reach quorum when they met.

The league’s provincial executive committee resolved to suspend chairperson Fetsang Molosiwa, secretary Bridget Tlhomelang and treasurer Manketse Tlhape, and opened criminal charges of fraud and corruption over the disappearance of R2-million from its North West kitty. 

Matuba was cagey when asked if the league had made any progress in its investigation against the three provincial leaders in this matter.

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