ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has called on former Eastern Cape chairperson Phumulo Masualle to resolve his differences with the party’s leadership in the province before rushing to court.

Ramaphosa addressed the last day of the ANC Eastern Cape conference at the international convention centre in East London on Sunday afternoon.

He berated the violent clashes between rival factions overnight and told Masualle’s supporters to resist going to court.

“We should never resolve our problems through courts of law. When there are problems and divisions amongst us, it’s always best that we sit down and talk rather than rush to courts or resort to violence,” Ramaphosa told delegates.

The deputy president’s arrival was met by cheers and song by most delegates, an indication that they support his bid to replace ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Masualle has been absent from conference since the violence, and his supporters held their own rally at the East London city hall, where they were addressed by former provincial executive committee members Andile Lungisa and Mlibo Qoboshiyane.

He was scheduled to contest Oscar Mabuyane for the position of chairperson, but was not available to indicate whether he accepts or declines the nomination.
Mabuyane was elected chairperson unopposed, along with his preferred slate of top five leaders.

The new chairperson told around 1000 delegates who remained at conference after the violence, to extend an olive branch to the losing faction.

“We are confronted with the responsibility of uniting ANC in the Eastern Cape. We must go all out and where possible extend the olive branch to ensure that ANC members come back to the ANC.We must refuse to be captured by factions. The ANC must cleanse itself from factions,” Mabuyane told delegates.

He also warned against ANC leaders who wanted to change the ANC “into something else”.

“The ANC must not allow people who want to change ANC to something else. If you are elected in the ANC, you are elected for a specific term. If that term comes to an end, don’t make ANC something that belongs to you,” he said.

Ramaphosa said he “expected better” from the ANC in the Eastern Cape because of its track record of producing quality leaders.

“We cannot allow violence to be utilized as a way of resolving our problems as differences. This is what brings ANC into disrepute. Those great leaders of our movement always found time to sit down and address differences that may have arisen amongst them,” the ANC deputy said.

He said the delegates, who hurled chairs at each other and took part in a bloody brawl that led to eight people being injured, displayed behaviour that was shameful.

“It’s something we must be deeply ashamed about. This is not the behaviour that is expected as members of the ANC. We do condemn violence as a method of addressing and resolving differences and disputes,” Ramaphosa said.

Concluding his address, Ramaphosa told the Eastern Cape to unite ahead of the December conference, where they would “renew” the governing party.

“Our task is to continue uniting ANC. Right now we are going through difficult moments as ANC. The December conference stands out as the beacon of hope where we will renew the ANC and unite the ANC,” he said.

“Your conference is a stepping stone leading us to that national conference. Arising from here, must be a solid leadership that is going to take the province of legends forward,” Ramaphosa added.