Battle lines drawn in Mpumalanga

2012-01-28 20:05

The battle for control of the ANC in Mpumalanga has been set following the suspension of the party’s deputy chairman and Nkangala district mayor, Charles Makola, this week.

His suspension by a council resolution on Wednesday comes just weeks before the ANC in the province goes to the polls to select new leaders. Mabuza’s opponents believe that the suspension – viewed in light of Cabinet’s intervention in Limpopo just before the ANC there went to conference last month – was politically motivated.

Incumbent chairman and Premier David Mabuza is seeking a second-term in office while slates being circulated to comrades across the province indicate that Makola will challenge the position.

Ironically, Mabuza and Makola joined forces three years ago to fight off former Mbombela mayor Lassy Chiwayo and his faction for leadership positions.

Makola’s suspension came after there were threats to provincial ANCYL chairperson Kgotso Motloung’s job as Gert Sibande district mayor following a vote of no confidence by councillors.

The youth league in the province defied Mabuza last year when it backed its president Julius Malema for a second term. Mabuza’s former spokesperson Ronald Lamola was chosen as Malema’s deputy in the league.

Mabuza, an ally of President Jacob Zuma, is at loggerheads with the league, which is seeking to remove the president in Mangaung later this year.

The anti-Mabuza faction – which has the backing of the ANCYL, Cosatu, SACP and the Young Communist League (YCL) – has condemned the suspension of Makola and the attempted removal of Motloung.

Nkangala municipality is to institute a forensic investigation after the council received an unqualified report from the Auditor-General. City Press understands that the AG raised an issue about the hiring of a service provider that was allegedly blacklisted.

Makola has been a municipal boss for 12 years, but Mabuza’s allies are in the majority in the party’s regional executive committee (REC) and the council. Mabuza’s advisor Tommy Nkoana is regional secretary, while Nkangala mayor Speedy Mashilo is chairman.

Mashilo and Nkoana’s phones were off, while Nkangala ANC caucus chairman Thelma Letlaka said Mashile was the relevant official to comment. Makola claimed his suspension was motivated by the upcoming conference but declined to confirm whether he would stand against Mabuza.

“The municipality got an unqualified report with emphasis on one matter, which doesn’t mean there was corruption. I wasn’t invited to the meeting to answer. I can see that my suspension is motivated by other issues,” Makola said.

He said he had answered the AG’s concern in an e-mail also sent to the treasury department. “Nkangala is still the best run government institution. If I’m suspended for an unqualified report, it means all accounting officers in the country should be suspended,” Makola added.

Motloung’s issue was presented before the provincial ANC top five officials last Wednesday following a claim by councillors that he organised a Youth Summit and Women’s Assembly that was not budgeted for.

Two sources close to the top five said the accusations were “weak” and could be thrown out before going to the provincial working committee and the provincial executive committee.

Mpumalanga ANC spokesman Paul Mbenyane said, “Whoever started circulating lists is doing that on their own and is dividing the ANC and the alliance.”

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