ANC Free State regions too broke to attend January 8 celebrations

Thousands of ANC members in two of the biggest regions in the Free State were left desperate following the party leaders’ failure to arrange transport to ferry them to Mbombela, Mpumalanga, to attend the organisation’s January 8 shindig at which President Cyril Ramaphosa was to spell out the party’s annual programme.

This after the local ANC leaders in Bloemfontein’s Mangaung region and Sasolburg’s Fezile Dabi region pleaded poverty, saying that their regions were financially destitute and unable to raise the necessary funds to travel to the venue.

Party insiders told Sunday World that efforts to seek financial intervention from local public representatives deployed in Premier Mxolisi Dukwana’s provincial government also fell flat as those approached for assistance, whose names are known to the publication, were wary of using state funds to support a political party programme.

On Wednesday, ANC regional leaders in Mangaung dispatched a letter to branches, stating that there were no funds to transport members to Mbombela.

In the letter, which we have seen, penned by the party’s Mangaung regional secretary, Sabelo Pitso, he said the regional executive committee (REC) had planned to organise transportation for all members interested to attend the celebrations. However, this was impossible due to financial constraints.

“Our branches were made aware that past by-elections, IEC registration, and the ongoing refurbishment and creation of office spaces in the regional offices strained the financial muscle of the regional coffers.

“Furthermore, the upcoming second round of IEC registration and the intensive electioneering programme would require the region to have healthy financial muscle and compel the regional executive committee to navigate through this narrow passage by focusing on the task ahead.

“It is within these practical considerations that the REC could not organise transportation for our members who would have wanted to join thousands of other members in celebrating this important event in the calendar of our liberation movement,” Pitso wrote.

Fezile Dabi’s acting regional secretary, Isaac Ngozo, also followed suit as he dished out letters to branches in his region, delivering bad news that there was no money to take members to the January 8 celebrations.

In his letter, Ngozo said the region’s coffers were dry.

“All the branches in the region are hereby informed that there is no transport organised for the January 8 statement, where the ANC will be celebrating its 112th anniversary.”

He said that after serious engagement, the regional working committee had taken the decision not to exhaust resources and redirect them to the upcoming voter registration weekend on February 2 and 3.

“REC members of Mangaung and Fezile Dabi went to the MECs who fall in their constituencies, begging for a bailout, but they were told to get lost. One of the MECs told them that she was not going to be fingered for embezzling state funds for the ANC event,” said an insider in the provincial government.

Another PEC member said REC members even went to the provincial leadership and explained that any failure to secure funds to get buses was going to embarrass Dukwana, as he is a trusted lieutenant of the ANC president.

“Those guys from regions tried to mobilise PEC members to use their influence, but they were told if there was any money coming out from the government, opposition parties were going to find out and use it against the ANC during election campaigns.”

ANC provincial spokesperson Jabu Mbalula did not respond to questions sent to him regarding the matter.

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