Mabuza feels the heat in Mpumalanga

David Mabuza, the ANC chairperson in Mpumalanga and a prominent ally of President Jacob Zuma, is facing moves to unseat him ahead of regional conferences in the province next weekend.

Mabuza’s term as provincial chairperson ends in August next year, and his re-election would boost Zuma’s bid for a second term at the ANC’s 2012 conference in Mangaung.

But regions such as Bohlabela and Nkangala are already plotting to oust Mabuza in favour of Clifford Mkasi, the current provincial ANC treasurer and provincial minister of public works, roads and transport.

Other possible challengers to Mabuza’s position include his current deputy chairperson, Charles Makola, and member of the provincial legislature, Fish Mahlalela. 

A regional leader told the Mail & Guardian that Mpumalanga “was looking for a leadership that can be trusted”.

“At the moment, the ANC in the province is divided in two by factions,” said the regional leader, adding that the party “is characterised by political assassinations, the purging of opponents of the current leadership, the burning of municipalities and widespread discrimination against comrades in terms of cadre deployment in government.

“If you are not aligned to the Mabuza camp and do not toe his line, you will be sidelined.”

At the Nkangala regional conference last year, Speedy Mashilo, Nkangala mayor and a close ally of Mabuza, was elected chairperson.
Three other regions—Bohlabela, Ehlanzeni and Gert Sibande—are scheduled to hold their conferences next weekend.

However, Mabuza’s plan to consolidate his control of the ANC in the province at the regional conferences is likely to suffer a blow, because he has lost support and members are divided about whether he should be re-elected chairperson next year.

At the ANC Youth League’s provincial conference earlier this year, members passed a resolution supporting Mabuza for a second term. However, that decision is now under review as the scales are tilting towards Mkasi.

In the Ehlanzeni region, Mabuza is likely to be dumped because his close ally and current regional chairperson, Henry Magagula, is critically ill and is expected to step down this week.

Mabuza faces total rejection in the Bohlabela and Gert Sibande regions. Both regions are vitally important for him, if he is to mount a successful challenge for a second term as ANC provincial leader.

In the Gert Sibande region, his rival and ANC Youth League chairperson Kgotso Motloung is favoured to win.

The Bohlabela region is expected to reject Mabuza’s candidate for regional chair, former Bushbuckridge mayor Milton Morema.

ANC provincial spokesperson Paul Mbenyane said branches in the province were fully behind the collective leadership under Mabuza.

“We are confident in his [Mabuza’s] leadership,” said Mbenyane. “Anyone who is talking [about] succession at the moment is violating our constitution.

“Our focus is on local government issues, building the organisation, political education and preparations for the ANC’s centenary celebrations.”

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). Read more from Charles Molele

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