ANC deploys octogenarian 'securocrat' as metro mayor

The ANC in Limpopo has dismissed reports that Premier Cassel Mathale offered to resign from office to save the provincial executive committee from disbandment.

The ANC in Limpopo has dismissed reports that Premier Cassel Mathale offered to resign from office to save the provincial executive committee from disbandment.

Or address the infighting that has crippled the party in the region.

Instead, the deployment of octogenarian Ben Fihla will give the ANC's headquarters Luthuli House full control of the region, they claim.

Fihla (81) has been catapulted from the back benches of Parliament to run one of the country's eight metropolitan municipalities. This is besides the fact that he has no experience in governance and hasn't run an administration. Fihla has been a member of Parliament since 1994.

Members of the ANC's opposing factions, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they found Fihla's deployment puzzling.

They described Fihla as being part of the party's loyal old guard.

"He emerges from the Umkhonto weSizwe ranks and is part of the regime of securocrats in the ANC. He owns allegiance to the securocrats," said a party member.

The source speculated that Fihla would occupy a ceremonial role and his deputy, Thando Ngcolomba - who is also deputy chairperson of the ANC in the region - would do the actual work.

Collectivism
"It is a necessary intervention in preparation for the elections," said the source.

ANC regional secretary, Zandisile Qupe, seemed to confirm this.

"The ANC has taught us collectivism. We have not thrown him in the deep end. He's only a captain of the ship. There are many others who will be working with him," he said. "The key is his deputy, who has vast experience in local government. He's been a mayoral committee member as chair of economic development, former chief whip of the ANC and ward councillor."

The ANC informed Wayile and his deputy Nancy Sihlwayi of their recall last weekend, but they are yet to resign.

Meanwhile, the ANC in Limpopo has dismissed reports that Premier Cassel Mathale offered to resign from office to save the provincial executive committee from disbandment. The party's provincial spokesperson, Makondelele Mathivha, lambasted the media for "generating" the story. Mathivha said Mathale's removal as premier was not discussed by the ANC at a meeting held in the province last month.

Mathale's fate
The national executive committee is expected to decide Mathale's fate and pronounce on recommendations by some structures in Limpopo to disband the provincial committee.

"The ANC had a meeting in Polokwane in February where members of the provincial committee were given the opportunity to voice their concerns," Mathivha said. "The outcomes of that meeting will be presented by the national working committee to the national executive committee this weekend."

The province is home to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and opposed Jacob Zuma's re-election as party president at the national conference in December.

Asked whether or not there were problems in the province, Mathivha replied: "There are people who reported issues to the national executive committee, but I don't know if we can call them problems," he said. "As a living organism the ANC will have issues to resolve on a continuous basis."

He would not say how, if at all, these reports would affect the party's 2014 general election campaign.

"The ANC is readying itself for the election campaigns. Everything it does is with that in mind."

 

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