Oscar Mabuyane says he is not keen on reshuffling cabinet

The question of a cabinet reshuffle is not an issue and is not relevant at the moment, according to Eastern Cape ANC convenor Oscar Mabuyane, who is tipped to win the provincial leadership race against Babalo Madikizela when the dust settles on Monday. 

In an interview with Mail and Guardian Mabuyane, who is the premier of the province, dismissed suggestions that winning against Madikizela, who is the MEC of public works, would automatically equate to a cabinet reshuffle that would see the axing of the MEC.  

“You don’t just wake up and decide simply because you disagreed yesterday [that there should be a reshuffle]. It has its own time and process. From where I’m seated that issue is irrelevant, it doesn’t arise at all.”

It’s not unusual to see allies turned opponents quickly replacing one another in government positions after having won party contests. 

Mabuyane was speaking to M&G on the sidelines of the conference as he celebrated being nominated to return as provincial chair.

Monday is the fourth day of the conference, which has been marred by constant delays and disagreements over delegates. 

Private security was beefed up with random checks conducted at the conference venue, which alarmed delegates. 

National spokesperson Pule Mabe said the security checks were done after a “tip-off” to ensure the safety of delegates. 

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to close the conference on Monday. 

Mabuyane and Madikizela each accepted nominations for the chairperson position to resounding cheers from their supporters at midnight on Sunday. 

The delegates sang songs in support of their chosen candidates. Mabuyane and Madikizela, who were seated next to each other, were often seen sharing laughs and making conversation with the media during the late-night nominations. 

NEC members with a vested interest in the election were seen huddled in caucuses during the long hours of credentials. 

Despite constant delays and chaotic scenes that played out over the past three days of the  conference, Mabuyane described the gathering as “robust”.  

“It wasn’t chaotic, it was robust. The fact that from the steering committee we came back and allowed people much time to exhaust and raise issues – it was an attempt of showing that robustness,” he said. 

He praised the outgoing leaders for having left the organisation “united and cohesive” and said he was not embarrassed by the state of affairs. He did, however,  blame some leaders for having ulterior motives and attempting to plunge the organisation into chaos.  

“When we say work has been done here, we mean it. It’s the province that defended the ANC in the local government elections. We brought 92% of branches to the conference. That shows the strength and the level of organisational presence in our province. The ANC is a very complex organisation… with a lot of challenges. We have been saying it must continue adapting,” he said.

In his political report, Mabuyane said the outgoing provincial leaders were confident that they managed to do what was mandated by the ANC, and had brought back to the branches an organisation that was intact, united, more coherent, and much stronger to lead the process of transformation. The ANC was capable of advancing, deepening, and defending the national democratic revolution, he said.  

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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