The Western Cape African National Congress (ANC) is preparing for crunch talks with the party's top six on Monday, following the disbandment of the party's Cape Town metro leadership.
President Jacob Zuma and the ANC's top officials will meet the provincial executive committee (PEC), the new ANC Cape Town regional task team, and disaffected leaders of the metro who lost their positions.
The other senior members of this "fact-finding" mission are ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete, treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, secretary general Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte, and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The six leaders each spent most of Sunday visiting one of the province's six regions, to ascertain how members there feel about the discord between provincial and regional leaderships.
The Western Cape ANC has been plagued by deepening factionalism for almost two years. It came to a head at the provincial policy conference in Stellenbosch, a week before the ANC's national policy conference.
Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs told News24 this week that the top six will not make any rulings on the province's affairs, but will take recommendations to the party's next national executive committee meeting in August.
At the centre of the discussions will be the disbandment of the Cape Town regional executive committee. The decision was taken at the Stellenbosch PEC meeting in the early hours of June 25.
Leaders of five of the six regions broke ranks that weekend to hold an impromptu press conference, at which they accused the PEC of wanting to impose its decisions for the policy conference without following procedure. They called for the PEC to go.
The next day, provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said the metro's leadership had been ignoring the PEC’s authority for almost two years.
The PEC made the decision that weekend, after Cape Town branch leaders disrupted their meeting. They reconvened after the disruption, and worked through the night.
It was the last straw, Jacobs told News24 on Thursday.
He said the PEC had the right, according to the party's constitution, to disband regions. It was not the first province to have done so. A similar scenario played out in the North West in 2015.
He wanted the province to return to a functional level before his term ends in two years, and believed the metro's leadership was "deliberately disrupting organisational renewal".
'Go back to political school'
The ANC Youth League in the province on Friday however repeated the call for the PEC to be disbanded, rather than the region. Jacobs and the PEC needed to "go back to political school", the league said.
Provincial ANCYL chairperson Muhammed Khaled Sayed said the PEC was increasingly ignoring the league’s autonomy and wanted to make its feelings known. It believed the disbandment was not lawful and the current PEC leadership was failing.
Former Cape Town chairperson Xolani Sotashe said he could not speak to the media ahead of the meeting, pending a possible resolution about his disbanded region.
He however said at the impromptu press conference in June that the PEC was dividing the province, instead of leading it.
"We all know there is a problem in the organisation. Even national has pronounced on factional battles that must be rooted out," Sotashe said.
"People think they own the ANC, people who do not subscribe to the traditions of the ANC. We would be failing if we did not speak out against these things. We have been disciplined enough."
ANC presidential race
The meeting with the top six is due to take place at 10:00, and parties will be afforded the opportunity to make their cases.
It is believed the ANC's national presidential race between front runners Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is at the root of the discord.
Branches, not the provincial or regional structures, will decide which delegates get to represent them at the party's national elective conference in December, where a new leader will be elected.
The province has 350 ANC branches, the second smallest by numbers in the country.
The ANC’s increasing decline at the 2016 provincial polls has been blamed on the divisions, made worse by the suspension of former leader Marius Fransman.