The vote for new leadership in the Limpopo ANC at the weekend will not be influenced by a power struggle between factions of the ruling party, a political analyst said on Wednesday.
“Very often people look for things that aren’t there. This is not a power struggle,” said analyst Steven Friedman.
Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale and Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla are both in the running for chairperson of the party’s provincial branch.
Reports suggest that President Jacob Zuma’s decision to put five of Limpopo’s departments under administration over financial concerns would allegedly strengthen Zuma’s hand in the political infighting with Mathale, who is a close ally of suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
Friedman said the reports were not true.
“I don’t think that it is related to Zuma’s decision. Firstly, Limpopo is not the only province where this has happened, and secondly, according to the Treasury, the concern started when Limpopo asked for R1-billion,” Friedman said.
On the contrary, political analyst Professor Adam Habib believes the conference is a “make or break situation” for rival political factions in the ANC.
“This is going to be a big one for Julius Malema. If Phaahla wins, Limpopo will be in the president’s hands. Their ability to raise their voices in the run up to Mangaung will be severely inhibited,” Habib told the Mail & Guardian.
The province asked the National Treasury for the bailout on top of a R757.3-million overdraft to pay for November salaries.
Not politically motivated
Mathale’s backers charged that the Zuma’s decision was politically motivated, an accusation which Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has also denied.
Friedman said delegates attending the meeting were well versed in politics and knew what they were doing.
“I think Zuma would be happy if Mathale is elected. Why assume that people will vote against him [Mathale]?” he asked.
Phaahla, who is reportedly aligned to a group of Limpopo politicians supporting Zuma’s re-election next year, served in the provincial government’s executive in the early 1990s.
His support base is said to be from the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
On Tuesday, Cosatu held an anti-corruption protest in Polokwane, which was seen as an effort to weaken Mathale’s campaign. Its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who led the march, denied it was a factional activity, saying it was in no way linked to ANC elections.
“We are not a bullet that can be hired by any faction to pursue narrow factional activities,” said Vavi.
“This is not a factional activity; it is a march against corruption and abuse of political power.”
Last week, Limpopo provincial secretary Joe Maswanganyi assured delegates and guests coming for the conference that their safety would be given priority. This followed a shooting incident involving an unknown gunman at an ANC branch general meeting at Mogaung village near Groblersdal.
The gunman was allegedly trying to prevent those opposed to his favoured candidates from nominating delegates to the conference. — Sapa