/ 21 June 2022

ANC recommends Baleka Mbete as head of ANCWL task team

Baleka Mbete

The ANC’s national working committee (NWC) on Monday recommended three names, including former speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete, to head the ANC women’s league (ANCWL) task team. 

Insiders said that Mbete was recommended as task team convenor, with her name likely to be approved at the next national executive committee (NEC) meeting. 

The M&G was reliably told that two other names, including president Cyril Ramaphosa’s advisor, Maropene Ntuli, and Free State league leader MaQueen Letsoha, were recommended as the two coordinators who will take the structure to its conference. 

Ntuli, seconded by ANC youth league convenor Nonceba Mhlauli at the NWC meeting on Monday, was previously part of the young lions NEC led by Julius Malema. She has also served in the African Union. Letsoha is the former Free State ANCWL provincial secretary. 

The ANCWL was disbanded in April after the ANC accepted the recommendation by Thandi Modise. 

Modise was appointed by the NEC to head a panel to evaluate the status of the league ahead of its elective conference, which is expected to take place later this year.

This came after its president, Bathabile Dlamini, was found guilty of perjury in March for lying under oath during an inquiry about her role in the 2018 South African Social Security Agency grant payments debacle. Dlamini was the minister of social development at the time. 

In an extended NWC meeting in April, Dlamini fought to be positioned as the task team convenor, but this was rejected, with president Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies arguing that she would likely use the task team to ensure she emerges for another term. 

Dlamini, whose influence on the structure is still strong, has said that she is willing to come back for another term. 

In recent ANC provincial and regional conferences, the leagues have been integral to the slates that have ascended to the top five positions. 

In the Eastern Cape, the Oscar Mabuyane faction used the 30 votes awarded to each structure of the leagues to gain a slim margin ahead of his contender Babalo Madikizela, ensuring that Mabuyane won the conference. 

The league will also be used as an instrument by those wishing to emerge in the December conference. 

While in the past, the league has endorsed women for the top six positions, M&G has reported that it would unlikely endorse any leader for the December conference as Dlamini’s allies say they have been “abandoned” by the women in Ramaphosa’s cabinet, whom they accuse of failing to endorse a female agenda. 

In February, M&G reported that the former women’s league secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, delivered a damning report, showing that the structure had no functioning branches, regions or provincial structures in most provinces. 

Matuba is said to have highlighted that five provincial secretaries were not working full time and had instead been deployed to the government. Insiders said the NWC heard how branch audits on the readiness of structures for a conference were moving at a snail’s pace because the branches were dysfunctional.