Moloto leads the pack

Limpopo Premier Sello Moloto appears to have made a comeback ahead of the ANC provincial conference next week, with early nomination results putting him ahead in the race to become provincial chairperson.

The conference runs from Thursday to Sunday next week in Thohoyandou.

Moloto’s political future looked uncertain after the ANC’s national conference last December, when his preferred candidate, Thabo Mbeki, lost out to Jacob Zuma.

Limpopo, under the leadership of Moloto, was one of the four provinces that supported Mbeki for a third term as leader of the ANC. Zuma’s overwhelming victory against Mbeki saw Moloto lose support as party members aligned themselves with Zuma.

But provincial nomination figures provided by party insiders showed this week that Moloto was leading the race, with four out of five regional structures and the ANC Women’s League supporting him. Moloto’s rival, ANC provincial secretary Cassel Mathale, was nominated by the Sekhukhune region and the provincial ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

Moloto received overwhelming support from the Mopani, Vhembe, Capricon and Waterberg regions. The overall figures provided by several ANC leaders in the province showed Moloto was supported by 226 branches, while Mathale was supported by 200.

Moloto’s supporters argue that his fight-back campaign benefited when a public campaign waged against him by the youth league alienated many in the party.

One example is the booing of Moloto by ANCYL members at the funeral of the former ambassador to Indonesia, Norman Mashabane, in October last year.

A senior provincial ANC leader said: ”The disrespectful behaviour of the youth league towards Moloto over the past few months has angered many people in the province.”

Moloto’s lobbyists say the Limpopo premier’s strategy to win back support from the rank and file of the ANC was to remain calm while his detractors attacked him.

”He opted for a sober and mature approach. When these guys assaulted him in public he didn’t say anything, but continued to work with the people on the ground.

Moloto’s public apology to the former provincial secretary of the ANCYL, Julius Malema, after the two almost exchanged blows at an ANC meeting last year is also said to have helped.

”It takes a serious gentleman to apologise for the sake of unity in the movement,” said another ANC leader close to Moloto.

But the provincial youth league is still adamant that Moloto can be defeated. The ANCYL chairperson in Limpopo, Lehlohonolo Masoga, said he was confident that Mathale would emerge the winner at the conference. ”We are just waiting for his [Moloto’s] farewell speech when conference comes to an end,” he said.

ANC provincial spokesperson Benny Boshielo said the official nomination results would be announced on July 18.

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