ANC may lose Mpuma ward after ‘forgetting’ to register candidate

2015-02-15 06:00

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The ANC in Mpumalanga may lose its traditional ward, because it “forgot” to register a candidate on time.

A faction opposed to Premier David Mabuza and Nkangala regional chairperson Speedy Mashilo’s alliance is gloating at this oversight, as it has been complaining about the purging of comrades from government positions since Mashilo’s election last October.

Ward 28 in Mhluzi near Middelburg in the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality is up for grabs in a by-election scheduled to take place on February 25 following the death of ANC councillor Joyce Nkambule.

This ward has been in the ANC’s hands since 1994, but now it seems the faction-fighting within the Nkangala region took its toll on the regional executive committee (REC) in such a way that they lost track of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) deadlines.

“Their focus is on purging comrades that stood against Mashile and they have forgotten to do the most important things,” said an insider in the anti-Mabuza faction.

The ANC failed to submit its R1 000 bank-guaranteed cheque before the 5pm deadline on February 2. It tried to rectify this by slipping the cheque under the door at the IEC office, but by then it was too late to register their candidate.

The IEC declared that DA candidate Palesa Mobango would stand unopposed in the by-election.

Now a legal fracas has started. The ANC went to the Electoral Court and got a judgment on February 8 to have its candidate registered, but the DA decided to challenge this.

IEC provincial electoral officer Steve Ngwenya said: “The ANC could not submit a complete set of documents … its cheque arrived after 5pm and was slipped under the door. The IEC could not register the candidate and rejected the ANC’s objection.

“The ANC then went to court and won. IEC commissioners are still waiting for the court’s reasons and will decide what to do next, but we understand that the DA is challenging the judgment,” Ngwenya added.

Should the DA win the case, it will make inroads into a second ANC stronghold. In February 2012 the DA snatched Graskop away from the ANC in the corruption-riddled Thaba Chweu municipality for the first time since 1994 after a by-election.

DA Mpumalanga leader Anthony Benadie confirmed their court challenge.

“We have filed documents for rescission of the judgment because the ANC did not include the DA as a respondent and also because the electoral legislation does not give the IEC power to condone noncompliance with deadline,” said Benadie.

“The IEC confirmed to us that we would be uncontested in that ward. Mhluzi is an extremely important ward that will give us an opportunity to show what difference we can make. Every little growth helps us towards removing the ANC,” he added.

Mashilo said: “Why is the DA afraid to contest the ward in an election? We’ve registered our candidate.”

The anti-Mabuza faction has been waging a strong campaign to keep Mashilo’s influence under control.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe is expected to visit the region this weekend to quell the tensions, which worsened when Nkangala District Municipality speaker Bafana Nkwanyana was recalled last month.

The concerned group has written to Mantashe complaining about “foreign” tendencies creeping into the running of the ANC since Mashilo took over.

“In [the] less than two months the REC was elected into office, they started purging comrades in municipalities. REC members have told us these are instructions from provincial chairperson [Mabuza],” reads their submission to Mantashe.

Mashilo has came out in support of Mabuza getting a third term as ANC chairperson.

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