Almost all ward councillors in the city’s Sub-Council 13 in Philippi were asked by the ANC to resign last week, and thousands of residents have vowed to follow them to the newly formed Congress of the People. In separate community meetings held in Philippi over the last week, councillors Monwabisi Mbaliswano, Wandile Nkwele, Mzwandile Matiwane, Buyisile Mafilika, Bongani Mini and proportional councillor Kuluwa Mapongo announced their resignations as councillors and ANC members.
The only ward councillor left in the sub-council is ANC elected Moses Baskiti from ward 80.
Ward 34 councillor Bongani Mini said on Friday 31 October all the councillors, excepting Mapongo, received sms messages requesting them to report at the ANC’s provincial office on Monday.
He said he didn’t go on Monday as he was in the Eastern Cape, but his colleagues told him that they were instructed to resign from their positions as they were seen to be supporting the ‘Shikota’ movement, now officially named the Congress of the People (COP).
Mbaliswano said the councillors approached their respective wards on Tuesday and asked them what to do.
The resounding response was that they resign and join the yet-to-be-named COP.
Mbaliswano, Nkwele, Matiwane, Mafilika and Mapongo handed in their resignations on Wednesday. On Thursday evening Mini approached his ward and received the same response. He resigned on Friday morning.
Thousands of residents pledged to vote for them if they represented the COP.
Residents speaking from the floor at last week’s meetings – which were attended by thousands – said they felt disappointed and undermined by the ANC leadership in the province.
Residents asked why the ANC provincial leaders had not spoken to the masses and asked their opinions of their councillors before requesting their resignation.
Minority groups at the meetings said they would support new councillors appointed by the ANC, but the overwhelming majority said they would follow their councillors to the COP.
A statement released by the ANC’s provincial office on Friday said the decision to axe the councillors was due to them using ANC structures to mobilize “for another political party”.
However, the provincial office said the councilors were not asked to resign as ANC members.
“We will continue to take decisive action against any ANC public representative who misuses the resources of the ANC and we are prepared and ready to fight and win these
by-elections,” read the statement.
But the ANC appears to face a battle for support in the Western Cape, a province which has lost its key metropole to the DA coalition and has seen long-running ANC infighting between current provincial chairperson Mcebisi Skwatsha and former chairperson James Ngculu and former premier Ebrahim Rasool.
The recall of Premier Ebrahim Rasool also angered many ANC supporters, especially Muslim voters.
The ANC’s provincial conference in September was boycotted by 86 of the 205 branches who were dissatisfied with the way branch AGMs had been chaired in the run-up to the conference.
During Mini’s meeting on Thursday, Phillippi branch chairperson Ben Nokatyo, an ANC member for the past 40 years, told the packed meeting that he had also decided to resign from the ANC because it was upholding the principles of the Freedom Charter.
“I will never again be a member of the ANC,” Nokatyo said.
The hall, containing about 1,500 people, broke out into loud applause.
* Reporting by Sandiso Phaliso. Published in the Sunday Argus, 09 November 2008.