Concerted push to fill ANC vacancies

Tension: The appointment of Paul Mashatile (left) to the ANC’s top six has left the Gauteng chairperson post open. David Makhura (right), as Mashatile’s deputy, is likely to replace him. Photo: Denzil Maregele/Gallo Images/Beeld

Tension: The appointment of Paul Mashatile (left) to the ANC’s top six has left the Gauteng chairperson post open. David Makhura (right), as Mashatile’s deputy, is likely to replace him. Photo: Denzil Maregele/Gallo Images/Beeld

The upcoming election of a new ANC Gauteng leadership is likely to expose tensions between supporters of former provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile and those of Premier David Makhura.

Several other provincial ANC structures also have to be recalibrated following the party’s national elective conference in December.

Mashatile was elected treasurer general of the ANC at the conference, leaving the position of Gauteng chairperson vacant.

The post will now have to be filled by convening a special provincial general congress, which will probably result in a shake-up of the entire Gauteng executive.

There is consensus that Makhura, who was Mashatile’s deputy, should replace him as chairperson. But tensions between the two will probably make filling the position of deputy chairperson and secretary acrimonious as their factions fight to have their representatives elected.

Party insiders have told the Mail & Guardian that tensions between Mashatile and Makhura arose in 2016 when Mashatile, then a member of Parliament, was appointed housing MEC in Gauteng.

Mashatile was the political principal but had to report to Makhura — his senior in government but subordinate in the party. Makhura has allegedly found it difficult to give instruction to Mashatile.

“There’s consensus that he [Makhura] must lead but whether the Mashatile supporters trust him is another thing. Remember the premier would from time to time make Barbara Creecy [acting] premier [in his absence] even when the chair was there instead of putting Paul as ANC chair. It didn’t sit well with Mashatile supporters,” said a provincial executive committee (PEC)  member.

But some party members have denied the existence of any tension in the provincial ANC executive.

“It’s not true because, in our cadres assembly around October last year, the chair [Mashatile] explicitly indicated to the assembly that he would ensure that the deputy chair [Makhura] keeps the ANC united, so the relationship is still good,” said a senior party member.

There are claims, however, that some decisions Makhura took in government have affected relations between him and some of Mashatile’s allies. One of these was Makhura’s appointment of a premier’s economic advisory panel. The panel was intended to guide the provincial government on how to achieve its economic growth targets, but was allegedly seen as undermining the capacity of Economic Transformation MEC Lebogang Maile, who is a Mashatile ally, to produce results in his department.

Maile is being considered for the position of deputy secretary and chief whip in the Gauteng legislature Brian Hlongwa as secretary. Former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau is seen as the preferred candidate among Mashatile’s supporters to stand as deputy chairperson.

According to a PEC member, the move by Mashatile’s faction to push for Tau was influenced by the need to retain access to resources after the ANC lost the Johannesburg metro. “I understand why they want Parks. Their lifestyle does not allow them to live on what they are getting now. Remember they influenced every contract [in Johannesburg]. Now that they can’t do that, the nearest opportunity that will come is the provincial government. They need Parks so that he can pull them up. That would be the main reason why they want him.”

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s name has also been mentioned as a candidate for the deputy chairperson position, a decision backed by Makhura’s group.  Some have also asked him to consider the post of secretary. Insiders said Lesufi was reluctant to contest any position if this would increase tensions in the province.

Another name that has been touted for the secretary post is that of West Rand chairperson Boyce Maneli. Members of his region have expressed their intention to nominate him.

Mpumalanga

In Mpumalanga, the ANC will be tasked with finding a replacement for its chairperson and premier, David Mabuza, who was elected the party’s deputy president at the 54th elective conference.

Mabuza is believed to prefer public works MEC Sasekani Manzini to take over from him. Manzini is currently the secretary of the ANC Youth League in the province.

But other alternatives have been proposed, including the head of the co-operative governance department, Peter Nyoni, who, in the past, has been critical of Mabuza’s leadership.

Nyoni has indicated that he intends to contest the position of chairperson.

[Gaps: Mpumalanga’s David Mabuza (left) and the Free State’s Ace Magashule are now among the ANC’s top six (Delwyn Verasamy)]

Some Mpumalanga ANC members have said that Nyoni is an extension of Mabuza’s inner circle and is not sincere about bringing change in the province.

“There’s no way that Nyoni could be anything outside Mabuza’s inner circle. It’s just that he is not in the core of that circle. But he is looking for Mabuza to give him his blessing to succeed him,” said a senior party member who is a Cyril Ramaphosa lobbyist.

In 2015, Nyoni was suspended from the Mpumalanga provincial executive committee after he was accused of organising a march against Mabuza by the Save Mpumalanga ANC splinter group, which accused Mabuza of being a dictator.

A year later Nyoni reconciled with the party and was appointed as co-operative governance head of department, a move that led Mabuza’s critics to believe that Nyoni is being used as a proxy for the outgoing premier in the province.

Those who want a complete eradication of Mabuza’s leadership in the province are hoping to have long-serving provincial executive committee member Fish Mahlalela elected as chairperson.

“Fish Mahlalela is a leading CR17 campaigner who Mabuza does not even wish will succeed him, because he knows that will be the end of him. So his wish will be that people like Comrade Fish do not emerge,” the senior party member said.

KwaZulu-Natal and Free State

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) was expected to appoint task teams this week to lead the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, both of which do not have a legitimate leadership structure after drawn-out legal battles between various factions.

But, at its first sitting on Wednesday, the NEC did not make any task team appointments, a matter that was expected to be revisited once the party’s 106th anniversary celebrations had been concluded.

The purpose of the task teams will be to help the two provinces re-convene their controversial elective conferences.

The high court in Pietermaritzburg ruled in September that KwaZulu-Natal’s 2015 elective conference had been irregular.

In the meantime the provincial executive led by Sihle Zikalala
continues to lead the province pending the announcement of the task team.

The Free State will have to re-convene its elective conference as a matter of urgency because the province, like Mpumalanga, no longer has a chairperson or premier after Ace Magashule was appointed as ANC secretary general at the party’s December conference.

Magashule’s preferred successors are apparently a choice between roads and transport MEC Sam Mashinini and arts and culture MEC Mathabo Leeto.

But, with mounting resistance to Magashule in the province, there is a push from his detractors for his former deputy chairperson, Thabo Manyoni, to succeed him.

The heated contest between Manyoni, a CR17 supporter, and Magashule in the lead-up to the Free State provincial conference was one of the main reasons behind multiple court bids about leadership disputes.

Despite calls for the province to unite, since the ANC’s national elective conference, it is likely that the deep divisions sown by the factional run-up to that conference will remain as the Free State prepares to elect new leaders.

The NEC is still to decide the date for the reconvening of the Free State conference.

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