/ 23 July 2023

Ramaphosa camp solidifies strength in ANCWL with Tolashe presidency

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Bathabile Dlamini’s prospects of a politically resuscitation have all but disappeared with the election of Sisisi Tolashe. Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa ally Sisisi Tolashe has been elected as the new president of the ANC Women’s League, thrashing her opponents, including the once-dominant Bathabile Dlamini. 

After several delays the announcement was made on Sunday evening with Ramaphosa expected to deliver the closing address. 

Tolashe’s slate was elected in a clean sweep with an overwhelming majority of delegates favouring her as the leader. 

The ANC elections committee said that 2 962 delegates voted of the 3 065 that were eligible. 

Dlamini received 170 votes for the presidency position while Thembeka Mchunu, another Ramaphosa ally, received 1038. Tolashe cruised to the presidency position with 1 729 


For the deputy president position, the league elected Lungi Gcabashe with 1 661 followed by Bernice Swart with 1190 and Sylvia Lucas who received a measly 62 votes. 

Nokuthula Nqaba was elected secretary general with 1611 votes and beat Lydia Moroane-Zitha  and Weziwe Tikane-Gxothiwe who received 1081 and 229 votes respectively. 

Controversial ANC leader Dina Pule made her comeback to national politics in Tolashe’s slate taking the position of deputy secretary with 1 713 votes while Makoma Makhurupetje received 1 035 and Dlamini ally Winnie Ngwenya’s 181 votes. 

The league’s finances will now be overseen by the new treasurer general Maqueen Letsoha-Mathae who received 2 608 against Thlape Manketsi’s 281 votes. 

Dlamini’s woes first came when she received the least branch nominations of the three candidates nominated for the position of league president. 

Dlamini received 258 branch nominations while Tolashe 1 604 followed by late comer Thembeka Mchunu who was nominated by 796 branches. 

This could mean the end of an era for a once powerful clique in the ANC formerly known as the radical economic transformation grouping. 

Dlamini’s efforts to cling to power within the league were thwarted when negotiations with the Mchunu faction fell through. It’s understood that those in her camp attempted to broker a deal with the Mchunu camp for an additional position to be added to the officials of chairperson to allow Dlamini to form part of the top leadership. 

On Saturday, the M&G reported that Dlamini’s camp suffered a blow last week when regions in her home province of KwaZulu-Natal ditched her campaign opting to support Mchunu.

Mchunu visited President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings earlier this month together with other ANCWL leaders – including its task team convenor and ANC official Maropeni Ramokgopa, Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, KwaZulu-Natal official Nomagugu Simelani-Zulu – in hopes of receiving his support.

This was highly criticised by ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula who cautioned party leaders to refrain from using their proximity to the ANC president to influence delegates. 

Both Mchunu and Tolashe are in the Ramaphosa faction which fought for his re-election at the ANC Nasrec conference last year.

The nominations also saw the late Tina Joemart-Pettersson featured in the ballot. She received the highest number of branch nominations for the position of deputy president at 1062. 

Former Free State premier Sisi Ntombela, who was part of the Dlamini slate, received the least nominations with 230 branches for the deputy president position and bowed out of the race announcing that she had declined nominations. 

The race for deputy president meant that it was between Lungi Gcabashe with 325 branch nominations as well as Lucas Sylvia and Barnice Swart from the Mchunu slate. Both Sylvia and Swart were nominated from the floor with Sylvia replacing Joemart-Pettersson from the Tolashe slate. 

The election process hit a snag when accusations of ghost delegates were levelled during the credentials. Delegates were then forced to undergo security checks to ensure legitimacy. Each delegate was made to produce their tags and ID’s before entering the plenary hall. 

Meanwhile Mbalula caused a stir when he threatened to fire minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan if he did not fix Transnet. 

During his opening address at the conference, Mbalula said freight and locomotives had to be moved to rail. 

“Comrade Pravin move faster, or otherwise we will move you. Comrade Pravin moves faster at Transnet or otherwise, we will move you,” he said.

However, just hours later on the same evening, Mbalula made a sudden U-turn back tracking on his initial views in a statement which was seen as an apology to Gordhan. 

“The Minister of Public Enterprise will undoubtedly not provide answers alone facing our rail transport system. The fact that a clarion call is sounded on the Minister to fast-track policy interventions to address our rail and freight logistics does not amount to a call for his removal,” he said. 

Mbalula also ruffled further when he praised Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi as being the only premier seen to be doing his job. 

Mbalula said the ANC was keeping an eye on premiers who were not failing. He also told delegates that the ANC would not tolerate party provincial leaders who reshuffle mayors, MEC’s and Premiers after winning party elections. 
One premier who spoke to the M&G after Mbalula’s statements said that his criticism of ANC government leaders was like scoring an own goal which could hurt the party.