Turn in Limpopo leadership battle

Lobbyists for Limpopo Premier Sello Moloto have made an eleventh-hour change to their candidates’ list in a bid to head off the man favoured by Jacob Zuma’s camp as the next provincial premier.

In the run-up to what is expected to be a tense provincial ANC congress, which started on Thursday at the University of Venda, they have listed South Africa’s high commissioner to Libya, Jerry Ndou, as deputy chairperson of the province.

The intention is to position Ndou as a premiership candidate to block provincial secretary Cassel Mathale. Mathale is favoured by Zuma supporters, particularly the provincial ANC Youth League.

This change of strategy by the Moloto camp was confirmed by a highly placed source who attended a strategic meeting last Sunday at which Moloto and his confidants discussed list changes. Moloto is still listed for the chairperson’s job and will battle Mathale for the position.

But because he has become unacceptable to Zuma supporters — he campaigned for President Thabo Mbeki at the ANC’s Polokwane conference — there is a growing recognition that the new party leadership is unlikely to appoint him for a second term as premier.

The weekend conference is the culmination of an acrimonious nomination process marked by acts of violence — including the disruption of meetings, stabbings, fist fights and the arrest of several ANC members.

About 50 branches have been disqualified because they could not muster the required membership to vote at the conference.

Present at the meeting where Ndou’s position was discussed were Moloto, Limpopo transport minister Justice Pitso, Baphalaborwa municipal speaker David Maake, Muruleng mayor Junior Mafogo, Kgapane Hospital chief executive Benny Mashobane and the former chief executive of the South African Social Security Agency, Charlie Nkadimeng.

In terms of an ANC resolution at Polokwane provincial executive committees will now critically shape the appointment of premiers. They must submit three candidates to be considered by the party’s deployment committee under ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.

The Moloto faction’s plan to push for a Ndou premiership hinges on having more of their candidates voted on to the PEC. In recent months Limpopo youths have been calling for Moloto to step down as premier before next year’s elections.

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