/ 27 May 2016

ANC mayors may lose their chains

Outgoing: eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo
Outgoing: eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo

ANC executive mayors in three of the country’s big metros could be axed after they failed to make it to the top of the party’s candidate list ahead of this year’s local government elections on August 3.

The Mail & Guardian has obtained some ANC candidate lists that show Tshwane mayor Sputla Ramokgopa, eThekwini’s James Nxumalo and Mondli Gungubele from Ekurhuleni have fallen out of favour after they were eclipsed by other candidates.

The ANC is holding its national list conference on Friday and Saturday to finalise the proposed list of candidates who will represent the party in local government.

Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and Port Elizabeth Mayor Danny Jordaan appeared at the top of the candidate lists in their respective regions, which means they stand a better chance of retaining their jobs.

But Tau and Jordaan face a battle to regain regional support for their party following significant losses during the 2014 general elections. 

In Port Elizabeth this support registered 49% and in Johannesburg it scored only 52% of the vote. Regions will present the first three names on the list to provincial executive committees (PEC) as preferred candidates for the position of mayor. 

In most instances, candidates who appear as number one on the list are regarded as the preferred candidates, but the PECs have the prerogative to choose anyone from the names nominated at the regional list conference. 

Ramokgopa, who is also ANC regional chairman, appears second on the Tshwane candidate list after his deputy Mapiti Matsena. 

But he was excluded by the regional executive committee when it selected three names that will be submitted to the Gauteng PEC. The names submitted by the committee include Matsena, Karin Littler and Susan Ngobeni.

Ramokgopa, who is a close ally of Gauteng premier David Makhura and ANC provincial chairman Paul Mashatile, has been under pressure from the ANC Youth League and the ANC’s alliance partners — trade union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) — to step down. 

They accuse him of failing to root out corruption and have called on the national government to place the municipality under administration. Ramokgopa has dismissed their allegations.

The deputy trade and industry minister and ANC regional chairman in Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina, has proven his popularity in the region after he garnered the number one nomination on the candidate list. Mayor Gungubele was relegated to the number 11 spot. 

Gungubele is also seen as a close ally of Mashatile and Makhura, whereas Masina is regarded as a political rival after he openly clashed with the provincial leadership on a number  of issues. 

This month, Masina publicly contradicted the provincial leadership over the Constitutional Court judgment that found that President Jacob Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution by failing to comply with the public protector’s report on Nkandla. At first, the PEC in Gauteng, led by Mashatile and Makhura, said Zuma’s apology was not enough and that he needed to do the right thing and resign. But the PEC was forced to backtrack on its initial position and accepted Zuma’s apology after ANC branches in Gauteng revolted during the recent provincial general council.

Nxumalo has been elbowed out by Zandile Gumede, the ANC’s newly elected eThekwini regional chairperson, as the preferred candidate to run the metro, which has a budget of more than R4-billion. 

Nxumalo, who is also provincial chairperson of the SACP in KwaZulu-Natal, is a close ally of Senzo Mchunu, who was this week forced to resign as premier after sustained political pressure from his detractors in the ANC. Nxumalo and Mchunu have been associated with an ANC faction that wants Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma as ANC president. 

Gumede is a close ally of Sihle Zikalala, the ANC provincial chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal. The two are said to be supporting a faction pushing for African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over as the ANC’s, and the country’s, president.