UDF strikes back in North West
North West Premier Popo Molefe’s re-election as provincial African National Congress boss last week was not a true reflection of his popularity, but signalled a resurgence of the United Democratic Front element in the ANC, sources at the conference said.
Limpopo Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi is now the only ANC premier in the country who does not come from a UDF background. Recently UDF veteran Fish Mahlalela won the party chair in Mpumalanga against Thabang Makwetla, the candidate of the national leadership.
To widespread surprise, Molefe won his third term as ANC chairperson in North West province.
He beat Thandi Modise, an ANC MP who had the backing of four of the five regions and the ANC Youth and Women’s Leagues.
Modise was seen as the favoured candidate among national leaders to head the provincial party.
Molefe is a close friend of ANC chairperson Mosiua Lekota, who has been identified in some ANC circles as a possible challenger for the deputy presidency of the organisation.
This week Modise, a former Umkhonto weSizwe commander and deputy president of the ANC Women’s League, would not comment on her loss, saying she believed any comments “would be misinterpreted”. She is reportedly upset at the way the elections were conducted and at Molefe’s attack on the Women’s League during the conference.
ANC Youth League provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge said the league supported the elected leadership of the province. He declined to comment on what took place at the conference.
According to ANC Youth League and Women’s League sources, there was a concerted campaign to discredit both organisations.
“Molefe made a scathing and unscientific analysis of the youth league, and the whole conference was won through a lot of character assassination,” said a Youth League candidate who lost in the race for one of the party positions.
“We were presented as people who did not have any legitimacy to speak on the leadership of the province. This explains why all our candidates lost against Molefe’s camp. All our candidates were criticised on the basis of personal attacks. We have been shut up,” said a Women’s League source.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mandlenkosi Mayisela dismissed the leagues’ allegations and lambasted their “unfamiliar tendency to impose certain procedures on the ANC”.
“It borders on ill-discipline for the leagues to raise leadership preferences in the media ahead of the conference,” he said.
Asked how Molefe had won despite being nominated by only one region, Mayisela said ANC conferences were attended by branches. “It is the collective will of the cadres, not power blocs that determine the leadership of the organisation.”
Molefe won almost a third of the conference delegates’ votes, gaining 355 against Modise’s 229.
Provincial secretary Siphiwe Ngwenya, Molefe’s right-hand man, also retained his position. Molefi Sefularo was elected deputy secretary, while Jerry Thibedi became deputy chairperson. ANC Women’s League candidate and the only female office-bearer Edna Molewa was elected treasurer.