Cassel Mathale for Limpopo premier or nothing — that was the message pro-Jacob Zuma delegates sent to Luthuli House from the Limpopo African National Congress (ANC) conference in Thohoyandou last weekend.
In defiance of ANC policy, the provincial ANC structure resolved that Mathale’s name should be put forward as the only candidate for the Limpopo premiership.
Mathale is a staunch Zuma supporter. The conference elected him as party chair in the province, leaving the current Premier, Thabo Mbeki-aligned Sello Moloto, out in the cold.
The ANC’s Polokwane conference called on all provincial executive committees to list three candidates for consideration by the ANC’s national executive committee.
ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte confirmed that Limpopo’s submission of one name was in breach of ANC policy. ”The resolution [taken in Polokwane] is very clear that they are supposed to submit three names to the national executive council,” she said.
ANC sources said the controversial resolution was pushed through by delegates who feared that the ANC’s national leadership might opt for Limpopo’s local government and housing minister, Maite Ngoana Mashabane, as the next premier.
Moloto’s detractors, including the provincial ANC Youth League, believe he should finish his term as premier, but laid down tough guidelines for him that would strip him of key powers. They passed resolutions demanding a moratorium on the appointment of top government officials and an end to the commercialisation of state assets, such as buildings and shares.
The new ANC leaders also instructed Moloto’s government to stop spending taxpayers’ money on renting private buildings for the use of government departments.
They want a single government complex that will house the legislature and all government departments. ANC provincial secretary Joe Maswanganye said: ”It can’t be that 80% of government buildings are privately owned. We believe the ANC government should spend more money on education and health, not on rent.”
Maswanganye said the creation of top jobs by Moloto’s government only benefited government officials and was not in the interest of the poor.
”Sometimes you get more than five general managers in one department who do not make any meaningful impact on service delivery,” he said. ”What they do is workshops and no [service] delivery. The provincial ANC believes the government can provide more service delivery with fewer senior managers.
”What we need is to put more capacity at the professional level, including putting more doctors in hospitals, more nurses in clinics and more teachers in schools.”
Maswanganye insisted that ANC policy does not prevent the provincial executive council from submitting a single candidate for the premiership. ”We think the submission of three names is the maximum,” he said.
The provincial ANC conference also passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of fraud and corruption charges against Zuma.
Maswanganye said there was consensus among the 900 delegates who attended the conference that the charges were politically motivated.
Minding his businesses
Mathale is a well-known entrepreneur who sees no conflict between politics and business.
The company register shows Mathale is a director of at least 10 companies in the mining, construction, farming and hospitality sectors. Some of these have benefited from lucrative government contracts in Limpopo.
Last year, Mathale was among the beneficiaries of a R6,7-million black economic empowerment deal when his company acquired 43% of the shares in citrus enterprise Bosveld Sitrus. With former Limpopo finance minister Thabadiawa Mufamadi, he is also a director of Manaka Property Investments.
”This thing of conflict of interest is just a fabrication,” Mathale said this week. ”As Africans we must not allow that. We should allow everyone to go into government. I’ve been involved in business all my life. The most important thing for us [as politicians] is to disclose our business interests to the public.”
He said his priority as the party’s new chairperson was to strengthen ANC structures and build unity among party members in the province.