THE African National Congress’s national elective conference in Mangaung was already running late by Monday morning, one day after its official start.
At about midnight on Sunday, the conference — held on the campus of the University of the Free State — was adjourned due to disagreement in discussions on credentials. Nominations for the governing party’s top six officials was also delayed until Monday.
Delegates would on Monday morning continue with the credentials process.
ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa proceeded with presenting his financial report to the conference on Sunday evening in a session that was not open to the media.
Earlier on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma presented his political report and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe his organisational report.
In his report, Mr Mantashe said factionalism seemed to have become institutionalised in the ANC and members had become bolder in their factional activities, leading to the collapse of discipline in some ANC structures.
He said the ANC’s inability to arrest factionalism threatened to bleed it to death because ill-discipline went unpunished in structures where factional interests placed some members above the party’s prescribed code of conduct.
The conference, which had been expected to start at 8.30am on Sunday, was delayed for about four hours before Mr Zuma addressed a packed marquee.
The party leader looked back on the successes and failures of the ANC since its Polokwane conference in 2007, touching on subjects such as discipline, alliance politics, service delivery and the National Development Plan for the South African economy, which he emphasised as a matter of great importance to be finalised at the Mangaung conference.
There was also still a legal threat that could disrupt the conference, with the ANC on Sunday told to abide fully by the outcomes of two judgments involving party structures in Free State and the North West or face a charge of contempt of court.
In a letter addressed to Mantashe, legal firm Kwinana & Partners said it represented 5,200 ANC members with interests in both cases.
The firm demanded that the ANC undertake "that the entire Free State delegation be excluded from any or further participation and voting in the national conference, with immediate effect after receipt of this letter" and ensure that "the issues raised in the North West court application as well as the decisions of the national executive committee in respect of the Free State court application be placed on the national conference agenda with immediate effect".
The ANC national executive committee on Saturday disbanded the Free State provincial executive committee on the basis of Friday’s Constitutional Court judgment that declared its June provincial conference "invalid and unlawful".
Members of the ANC in the North West took the party to court to interdict the province’s delegates from attending the conference in Mangaung, the ruling party’s 53rd national conference. The application was dismissed, but the court ordered the national conference to deal with the issue.
North West ANC provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge was on Sunday evicted from the conference when a sheriff of the court served him with a notice stating that he could not attend as he had been suspended. The sheriff was acting on the orders of attorneys representing the ANC North West provincial working committee.
The committee last week temporarily suspended Mr Mataboge as a member of the party. However, the committee’s decisions must be endorsed by the provincial executive committee before becoming official.
Meanwhile, Free State police said on Monday that they had arrested four people suspected of being right-wing extremists.
"The suspects are aged between 40 and 50 years old," police spokesman Brig Billy Jones said. "Their premises were searched and evidence supporting the investigation was seized."
Brig Jones said the arrests were the result of a successful joint law enforcement operation.
The four will be charged and brought before a court soon.
No further details were provided about the police operation or where the four people were arrested.