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Bathabile Dlamini might lead ANC Women’s league from jail

  • Bathabile Dlamini enjoys considerable support among her fellow ANCWL members. 
  • Some have called for her to continue as leader when it heads to conference later this year.  
  • A task team has been appointed by the party’s national working committee to decide on the future of the ANCWL.

Despite her recent conviction for perjury, there seems to be a growing appetite in the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) for Bathabile Dlamini to be re-elected for a second term as leader. 

Talks of leadership renewal in the ANCWL take place as it faces the possibility of disbandment if the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) rubberstamps the move. 

The last time the league held a conference was in August 2015, when Dlamini was elected. 

It was due for a conference in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented the possibility of an elective conference. 

The ANC barred any conferences from taking place during the pandemic’s peak. 

News24 spoke to several ANCWL leaders across provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State, and the Western Cape. 

The sentiment was clear that Dlamini enjoyed considerable support – and would likely be backed to continue leading the ANCWL.

The league is expected to hold its conference in August.

Some ANCWL leaders believe Dlamini, who is expected to be sentenced in April, should not step aside because of this conviction because it was not a criminal trial.

The ANCWL’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Nonhlanhla Gabela, told News24 the province had yet to officially pronounce its support, but Dlamini was the preferred candidate. 

Gabela said:”I do not think she should step aside. It is not a criminal case. The feeling of the ANC’s Women’s League in the province is that it would be unfair for her to step aside since it is not a criminal case. There are people in the ANC who have been accused of wrongdoing, but they are not charged.”

The league’s deputy secretary-general, Weziwe Tikana, who also serves as a member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, said she would run for her current position.

She said those backing her campaign would also support Dlamini and the other leaders to remain. 

Tikana said sentiment from her backers showed the leaders had fulfilled their mandates. 

An ANCWL leader in the Western Cape, who did not want to be named, said there was some support for Dlamini in the province, but that could change ahead of the conference as other candidates surfaced. 

“We would like to see Bathabile continuing with the ANC’s Women’s League. We do not have another name now. After the recommendations, other names may come up,” the source said. 

Dlamini has yet to indicate whether she will be running for a second term as leader. 

Her election in 2015 was not without controversy.

In the lead-up to the election, there were allegations of vote-buying. 

ANCWL’s future hangs in the balance

The ANC recently dissolved its structures in Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, citing expired mandates. 

The party’s national working committee (NWC) mulled over disbanding the ANCWL, but no decision was taken. 

This week, the NWC appointed a task team, led by NEC members Thandi Modise and Nathi Mthethwa. They will be tasked with deciding on whether the league should be dissolved. 

The ANCWL finalised a report on its road map to the elective conference at its leadership meeting two weeks ago.

News24 has been told that the report explains why the league delayed going to the conference and why it should not be disbanded.

The NEC will decide the league’s future in a meeting at the end of March. 

Tikana and Gabela both believe the league is capable of seeing through the conference, without being dissolved. 

The two leaders blamed the pandemic and not disorganised structures for the delays in holding the national conference. 

The task team was expected to meet the league’s leaders in the coming days, ahead of the NEC meeting. 

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