/ 16 March 2013

Masemola tipped to replace embattled Mathale as premier

Limpopo Education Minister Dickson Masemola.
Limpopo Education Minister Dickson Masemola.

The ANC's national executive committee (NEC) meeting, underway in Pretoria, is expected to dissolve the party's provincial executive committee under Mathale's leadership.

Limpopo, home to expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, was the first province to call for the removal of President Jacob Zuma as ANC president, ahead of the party's elective conference in Mangaung last year.

The province supported Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe for the powerful position but Zuma overwhelmingly defeated him.

Masemola, a vocal Zuma supporter and current ANC deputy provincial chairperson, is also expected to be included in the new provincial task team, along with current ANC provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane.

The NEC will appoint ANC veteran Nelson Diale as convener of the new provincial task team. Another ANC veteran, Stan Motimele, will also be appointed as deputy convener responsible for organisational renewal and the second deputy convener will be Joy Matsoga, who will be responsible for governance.

Major blow
The ANC's decision to appoint Masemola as the new premier will come as a major blow to Mathale's political rivals in the province who have been working hard for his removal.

The names preferred by the anti-Mathale faction to replace him as premier include former ANC Limpopo secretary Joe Maswanganyi, Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla, former youth league leader Lehlogonolo Masoga and former provincial health minister Seaparo Sekoati.

“It is clear now that Masemola will be appointed as the new premier. All the names that are in the PTT consist of his supporters. Even Diale is very close to him,” said an ANC leader close to Masemola.

Masemola has been under pressure from opposition parties and some within Cosatu, who called for his head after his department failed to deliver textbook to thousands of pupils in the province and alleged mismanagement of funds by his department.

His support for Zuma's re-election in Mangaung appears to have saved him. ANC insiders close to the discussions on the future of Mathale confirmed he would be removed as premier and that the provincial executive committee would be disbanded.

An ANC provincial committee member, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Masemola was a better candidate to unite the province. "We differed with him on Zuma but on provincial matters he agrees with us. Those who thought they would be elevated to positions of power are now disappointed. We are going to support Masemola to take over as the new provincial chairperson. Soon, they [Mathale's rivals] will be attacking him [Masemola] because all … they want is power to themselves," said the PEC member.

He confirmed that Mathale had volunteered to step down previously. "He indicated he is not coming back to provincial politics after his current term.

He wanted to step down after the provincial conference in 2011 but we said no. He wanted to save the ANC's image as he was accused to be the most corrupt politician," said the PEC member.

It is expected that Masemola will reshuffle the provincial cabinet once he takes over the position.