Plans in the works to oust Mokonyane

There are fresh plans to oust Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane. According to several ­senior ANC sources in the ­province the party’s Gauteng chair, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, is gearing up with his formidable troops to ensure a landslide victory in the forthcoming ANC regional conferences in an attempt to gain the upper hand against their archenemy.

Gauteng’s four regions: Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and the West Rand, are holding their conferences in the next two weeks.

Mashatile and some of the provincial executive committee members approached President Jacob Zuma several months ago to give them the go-ahead to redeploy Mokonyane, but he apparently rejected the proposal.

Mashatile wants to push Mokonyane out as premier—and put in his own candidate—in a bid to stamp his authority on the country’s economic powerhouse.

Zuma’s decision to appoint Mokonyane as premier in 2009 instead of Mashatile did not go down well with the ANC chairman or other top Gauteng ANC leaders. This has loosened Mokonyane’s grip on the levers of power in the province.

She reportedly angered some ANC members in the province after she refused to withdraw from standing against Mashatile for the position of chair in March last year.

Now, ahead of the regional conferences, which will take place between September 18 and 25, Mashatile’s camp is lobbying hard in back rooms to retain its dominance in a bid to stymie Mokonyane’s attempts to gain total control of the region.

The ANC’s Gauteng provincial secretary, David Makhura, declined to comment on the plans to oust Mokonyane. But a senior ANC leader in Gauteng said the regional conferences would be “a test of strength for both leaders” and would indicate whether Mokonyane would be able to mount another challenge for provincial chair in two years’ time.

“Since the last provincial conference they have never accepted Nomvula. They have never forgiven her for standing up to them. It is a grudge move. It will only be resolved once she wins the chairmanship of Gauteng or is removed completely.”

Mashatile, according to one source, still faces an uphill battle in dislodging Mokonyane from power. He apparently angered Zuma after it emerged that Gauteng ANC officials had approached ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to stand against Zuma in 2012.

Mashatile and his troops are not planning to throw in the towel, though. They intend filling all regional leadership structures with his loyalists to weaken Mokonyane in the party structures and provincial government, said another ANC leader. 

“Going to 2012, Mashatile wants to stand as national chairman of the ANC, but he will try to push for his loyalists, who, in the next two years, will be able to elect a candidate such as Gauteng finance [minister] Mandla Nkomfe or ANC provincial secretary David Makhura in order to continue to control Gauteng.”

Some ANC leaders in the province expressed concern this week that the regional conferences might undermine unity in the ANC if the wrong people were put in key positions.

“It is likely that those who are elected chairpersons of the region would want to take over as mayors and change existing mayoral committees. We had stability in the province in the last few months. But once you have new people, they might destabilise that,” said one ANC leader.

At a media briefing on Wednesday Makhura warned ANC members and councillors against any attempts to “disrupt and destabilise” the functions of municipalities during the regional conferences.

“We reiterate the position that the regional conference elections will not result in changes in the ­current leadership of municipalities,” Makura said.

But the Mail & Guardian understands that a group of ANC members supporting former Ekhuruleni regional secretary Bobo Mokoena for the position of regional chairman wants him to replace Mondli Gungubele as mayor.

Horse-trading continued on Thursday in Tshwane, the region that will soon be one of the biggest in Gauteng, when Metsweding is incorporated into the municipality.

Tshwane ANC chairman Sputla Ramokgopa was supposed to be challenged by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa chief executive Lucky Montana, but Montana confirmed to the M&G that he had withdrawn from the race earlier this week.

According to several high-placed sources both Ramokgopa and Gungubele are preferred by the ANC leadership in Gauteng, headed by Mashatile.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau is the preferred candidate to take over as ANC regional chairman. Other candidates for the position include Geoff Makhubu, a member of the Johannesburg mayoral committee, and Umkhonto weSizwe chairman Kebby Maphatsoe.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012).
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    Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award.
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