/ 5 November 2010

Much arm twisting over Gauteng cabinet

The Gauteng ANC is facing the kind of organisational paralysis last seen in the late 1990s following its decision to force Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to reshuffle her provincial cabinet this week.

The Mail & Guardian has established that some ANC provincial executive committee members strongly objected to moves by ANC provincial chair Paul Mashatile and his allies to force Mokonyane to appoint certain people as provincial ministers.

The new cabinet members largely comprise Mashatile’s long-time loyalists, including ANC Youth League chairperson in Gauteng Lebogang Maile, who comes in as provincial sports minister, and former Ekurhuleni mayor and ANC provincial treasurer Ntombi Mekgwe, who replaces Qedani Mahlangu as provincial minister of social development and health. Mahlangu, another trusted Mashatile ally, was moved to head ­economic development.

Other new appointees close to Mashatile include ANC deputy secretary in Gauteng Humphrey Mmemezi, who takes over as the new local government and housing minister. Ishmail Vadi, the chairperson of Parliament’s communications committee, becomes provincial roads and transport minister.

A provincial executive committee member who asked to remain anonymous told the M&G there was a groundswell of resistance to Mashatile and his allies.

Domination of factional concerns
The committee member complained that the provincial leadership was letting factional concerns dominate “even … ahead of gender parity”.

The member was referring to the appointment of two men, Mondli Gungubele and Sputla Ramokgopa, as the new executive ­mayors of the Ekurhuleni and Tshwane metros respectively. Both positions were previously held by women.

Mokonyane objected to the changes, but was allegedly told her resistance would amount to undermining ANC directives.

She was visibly frustrated when she announced the new cabinet members at a press briefing this week. The ANC claimed that the reshuffle was informed by a review conducted by the party in all provincial departments.

“The change is in realisation that the ANC has been in power for 16 years and the conditions of the Gauteng people have to change systematically,” said ANC Gauteng spokesperson Dumisa Ntuli.

However, Mokonyane said she still had confidence in those whose departments had been identified as underperforming and praised them for ensuring that Gauteng remained financially stable.

Not an easy job
She pointed out that it was not easy for her to replace cadres. “The ANC gave me the names and I had to apply my mind to where to place the new members,” she said.

Senior sources in the provincial ANC said the appointment of Mashatile to a full ministership and of Gauteng deputy chairperson Gwen Ramokgopa to the national executive, represented a vote of no confidence by the ANC’s national leaders.

“They’re being removed so that they can stay out of provincial business,” said one. In July the ANC rubbished M&G reports that former Tshwane mayor Ramokgopa would be moved to national government as deputy health minister and replaced as mayor by her nephew, Sputla Ramokgopa, insisting that she was “not going anywhere”.

However, Sputla Ramakgopa was appointed Tshwane mayor following her reassignment as deputy health minister amid serious infighting in the region about leadership of the city. Sputla’s detractors argue that he is too young for the position.