Cope ghost haunts race

The ghost of Cope is now hanging over the premiership race in the Eastern Cape, which is considered to be the party’s heartland but also the party’s heartache.

A campaign to discredit one of the candidates for the premiership, Mcebisi Jonas, is under way as the provincial leaders prepare to decide on Monday who will feature on the list of three names to be sent to the party’s national leadership.

An SMS doing the rounds in the province raises concerns over Jonas’s commitment to the party. The message says some of Jonas’s supporters are “ANC by day and Cope by night”.
Jonas was co-opted to the PEC after some of its members left to join Cope late last year. He is currently in charge of elections and is also the party spokesperson.

Jonas’s main contender is provincial finance minister Phumullo Masualle, who also serves as the national treasurer for the South African Communist Party (SACP). Masualle narrowly missed out on the top job when the former premier Nosimo Balindlela was sacked in October last year by the ANC for non-performance.

The provincial executive committee at the time strongly argued that the premiership should be given to the provincial deputy chairperson, Mbulelo Sogoni, who was provincial finance minister.

Although Sogoni’s name also features on the proposed list, he is not likely to be re-elected because most of his backers in the party leadership have left to join Cope. Together with the increasing influence of the left in the ANC, this gives Masualle the upper hand in the premiership race.

Party insiders say the speaker of the provincial legislature Noxolo Kieviet and the acting secretary and provincial health minister Pemmy Majodina are also being considered, but their candidature is more for the sake of process than substance.

“You know these days the issue of women is part of any process in the ANC, so we have to have them there,” a senior provincial leader told the Mail & Guardian.

Another possible candidate is provincial education minister Mahlubandile Qwase, who tops the electoral list for the provincial legislature. Although some ANC insiders complain that Qwase “does not campaign, therefore people don’t know whether he is interested in the job”, others say he could get the position because he is considered to be more senior than Masualle.

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