Knives out in provincial battle

The battle for control of Gauteng has taken an ugly turn, with some ANC members in the province pressing the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to pass a resolution blocking Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s bid for the chairperson’s post.

Mokonyane, elected an NEC member in 2007, is challenging current chairperson Paul Mashatile for the top job.

The push for the resolution follows failed attempts by the pro-Mashatile lobby in the provincial executive committee to discourage Mokonyane from standing.

The Mail & Guardian has established that the ANC’s national working committee has mandated a subcommittee led by Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane to “quickly formulate” guidelines that would prevent NEC members from standing for provincial leadership positions.

The move to block Mokonyane was apparently tabled by the ANC’s national organiser and Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula at a national working committee meeting last month. Mbalula refused to confirm or deny this.

If Mokonyane wins in Gauteng, she will not be the first NEC member to hold leadership positions in different ANC structures. Elected NEC members who are currently also provincial chairpeople include ­KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, Mpumalanga Premier David “DD” Mabuza and Free State Premier Ace Magashule.

The M&G has, however, learned that the NEC passed a special resolution last year preventing other national leaders from contesting provincial positions.

Earlier this year ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe said that rule 12.8 of the party’s constitution bars a provincial chairperson or secretary from serving as a directly elected NEC member.

Motlanthe said that leaders elected to the national body were expected to vacate their provincial posts. However, the rule does allow the simultaneous holding of posts in extraordinary circumstances.

Mokonyane’s supporters have vowed to challenge any attempt to stymie her leadership bid, arguing that this must be approved by the ANC’s 2012 national conference.

“ANC policy guidelines say NEC members can apply to the NEC to hold positions in two structures once provinces elect them,” objected one Gauteng leader.

“Gauteng cannot be the only province to be singled out. People are pushing for this because it works to their advantage that Mokonyane doesn’t contest.”

Mashatile’s supporters accuse Mokonyane of shutting down their business opportunities. She announced after becoming premier that she intended closing some provincial government agencies, led mostly by Mashatile allies and allegedly used by the former caretaker premier to consolidate his power base.

A close Mashatile associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mokonyane was working hard to remove Mashatile’s allies from powerful positions in Gauteng.

ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi denied any knowledge of the Mokonyane discussion taking place in the national working committee.
“If there is any rule that needs to be changed we wait for the policy conference, which will then propose it at the national conference. The NEC does not change policy; it implements policy,” Mnisi said.

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Mmanaledi Mataboge
Guest Author
Matuma Letsoala
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