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Free State, Limpopo premiers face provincial upheaval

Charles Molele

Free State premier Ace Magashule is facing down disgruntled ANC members who are hoping to oust him at the party's provincial conference in June.

Back to the drawing board: Free State premier Ace Magashule. (Madelene Cronjé, M&G)

  Magashule was left with egg on his face this week after the ANC’s national executive committee said he should reconvene last month’s regional conference in Fezile Dabi because it failed to comply with proper organisational processes.

Magashule – who is also the ANC’s provincial chairperson – opened the conference, despite complaints by a national ANC deployment that many branches in the region were not in good standing and did not qualify for participation in a conference.

Magashule is facing down disgruntled ANC members who are hoping to oust him at the party’s provincial conference in June. The Fezile Dabi region is Magashule’s home base near Parys.

The anti-Magashule group wants him replaced with provincial treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana.

The group accuses Magashule of corruption and deepening divisions, disunity and factional tendencies in the party. 

Under threat
The re-election of Magashule as ANC chairperson will boost President Jacob Zuma’s bid for a second-term.

Although Magashule has enjoyed popular support in the past, his power seems to be under threat as provincial structures plan his downfall.

ANC provincial spokesperson William Bulwane stressed that only the elective portion of the conference would be repeated.

Chaos broke out on Thursday in another region, Lejweleputswa, during a branch audit meeting after some members of a faction aligned to Dukwana were refused access to the hall and apparently assaulted.

Zolile Mashika, the ANC Youth League’s regional secretary, was injured during the scuffle, allegedly by a group aligned to Magashule.

Forced our way in
A case of assault has since been opened at the Odendaalsrus police station in Welkom.

“The auditing people were selective of who entered the hall and were refusing entry to members that are against Magashule. However, we forced our way in, but were accosted by rogue elements who produced knives and started kicking us,” said Mashika.

Meanwhile, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale’s political career was given a political lifeline after allies won the province’s controversial region of Vhembe and the ANC’s national executive committee adopted a report that cleared him of any wrongdoing after his opponents alleged irregularities during the provincial conference.

The Vhembe region, together with the provincial structures of the South African Communist Party and Cosatu, has been critical of Mathale’s leadership style and wanted him to be replaced by Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla.

The region’s former chairperson, Philemon Mdaka, was the main complainant of the alleged irregularities after Phaahla lost the elections to Mathale in December last year. Mdaka last weekend lost his position to Tshitereke Matibe after ANC members accused him of dividing the region. The ANC’s provincial spokesperson in Limpopo, Makondelele Mathivha, told the M&G that the outcome of the regional conference was critical for the unity of the province.

“Now chances of going to Mangaung [where the ANC will elect its leaders in December] 100% united are very high. All our regions now agree with the provincial leadership,” said Mathiva.

“We commend them [the national executive committee] for realising that internal democracy must be respected. This thing of launching protest every time when people lose is not correct. It is a syndrome that is popular in the African continent.
“If people lose elections, they must not say they have been robbed. What is left for us now is to rally behind Mathale in delivering services to our people.”


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