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Cablegate: Eastern Cape Anc Provincial Conference

VZCZCXRO0520
PP RUEHDU RUEHJO
DE RUEHTN #0207 2641419
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211419Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3205
INFO RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 6517
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 2184
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 3326

UNCLAS CAPE TOWN 000207

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SF
SUBJECT: EASTERN CAPE ANC PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE

1. (U) On September 12 the African National Congress (ANC)
concluded its sixth Eastern Cape Provincial conference by voting for
the new Eastern Cape Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) and
Chairperson. A total of 1963 delegates were accorded a voting
status at the conference despite earlier glitches that led to delays
in the start of the conference and the election process.

2. (U) The leadership race was closely contested between Finance MEC
Mcebisi Jonas, regarded as the favorite to win, and Health MEC
Phumulo Masualle. In a surprise turn of events Masualle beat Jonas
with just 100 votes to claim the leadership in the Province. Jonas
commanded support from the two biggest regions, Amathole and OR
Tambo municipalities, as well as the ANC Youth and Veteran's
Leagues, while Masualle, who is also the South African Communist
Party (SACP) national treasurer, had backing mainly from the smaller
regions. It was, however, the decision by rural development
Minister Gugile Nkwinti to throw his weight behind Masualle that
swayed the vote and saw Masualle's lead rise to 100, enough to
clinch the leadership. Comment: It is interesting to note that
Masualle was an avid Zuma supporter at the Polokwane conference
which ousted Mbeki. Although Jonas is also a Zuma man, his close
association with another Polokwane contender, businessman Tokyo
Sexwale, now the human settlements minister, has cast doubt on his
dedication to Zuma and appears to have ultimately cost him the
Provincial Chairmanship. End Comment.

3. (U) The run-up to the conference saw a vicious lobbying campaign
for the leadership that resulted in some meetings turning into
street fights as rival groups, armed with firearms and knives
attacked each other. The situation became so nasty that Luthuli
House had to dispatch a high-profile delegation, including Tony
Yengeni and Jessie Duarte, to address more than 400 delegates from
the Amathole region in Butterworth prior to the conference. It,
however, appears that the friction within the Province has not been
eased as supporters of the new provincial chairperson soon lobbied
to have Eastern Cape Premier, Noxolo Kiviet removed. A special
resolution was passed by the conference calling for Masualle to lead
the Province, all that remains before it is implemented is for the
new PEC to enforce it. If Masualle becomes Premier he could order a
council reshuffle and appoint new MEC's.
4. (SBU) Comment. Although the Eastern Cape is traditionally an ANC
stronghold it has in recent years seen political infighting,
corruption and nepotism amongst its own ranks leading to the near
collapse of municipalities and the provincial administration in the
Province. It has an appalling record of service delivery, a matter
that could have been discussed at the conference. However, due to
disputes over accreditation the start of the conference was delayed
leading to inadequate discussions on organizational renewal. A
provincial general council will now have to be organized to debate
policy issues, given that there was no time for the planned
breakaway sessions at the conference. End comment.

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