Cassel Mathale to be sacked

2013-07-14 10:00

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Zuma to officially announce fate of Limpopo premier tomorrow.

Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale will lose his job when President Jacob Zuma makes the official announcement tomorrow.

Mathale had to cut short a trip abroad to return to the country on Friday, so he could receive the news of his sacking personally from Zuma.

Four sources, who are aware of the developments, said Mathale was driven to the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House, in Johannesburg soon after landing.

“Mathale was on holiday in Italy. Zuma got hold of him and told him to come back home urgently. Mathale had to cut his trip to Italy short and returned to the country. When he landed at the OR Tambo International Airport he drove straight to Luthuli house, where Zuma broke the news to him,” said the source.

It is expected that Stanley Chupu Mathabatha will be announced as interim premier until next year’s election.

South Africa’s ambassador to the Ukraine, Mathabatha is a veteran of both the ANC and the SA Communist Party (SACP). Before Zuma appointed him ambassador last year, he was CEO of the Limpopo Development Agency.

A friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mathabatha is an Umkhonto weSizwe veteran and a former member of the then Northern Transvaal Peter Nchabeleng Unit of the United Democratic Front, where he worked with stalwarts Frans Mohlala and Peter Mokaba.

He was also instrumental in establishing both ANC and SACP branches in Limpopo when the parties were unbanned in 1990.

City Press also understands that former minister of cooperative governance Richard Baloyi – who lost his position when Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet this week – was also mooted as a replacement for Mathale.

Another source said that Mathale, who did not attend the ANC gala dinner at Polokwane’s The Ranch Hotel where the party’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa gave a keynote address on Friday night, phoned his MECs and close confidantes and informed them of his dismissal.

“He sounded very fine. He was not dejected at all, because he knew that he would be fired for supporting Kgalema Motlanthe in Mangaung. He knew the aftermath of the Mangaung conference, but he is a fighter,” said a source.

This will give him the opportunity to mobilise and campaign for the chairpersonship of the party during the provincial conference in December, said another source.

The provincial task team, appointed by the ANC to run party affairs in the province, is to hold elections in December, which Mathale is said to be keen to contest.

Mathale’s position has always been on shaky ground since the provincial ANC leadership, which he led, was disbanded in March.

A third confidante of Mathale’s said he will issue a statement tomorrow to thank Limpopo citizens for the support they have shown him during difficult times in his leadership.

“They continued to have faith in him even when the departments were placed under administration, rendering him a lame duck premier. They continued to support him even when he was removed as the provincial chairperson of the ANC. It’s only fair that he extends a word of gratitude to them,” said the source.

Another said plans are also under?way to fire MECs close to Mathale.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Clifford Motsepe and Education MEC Namane Masemola were those named.

Mathale couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of going to press yesterday.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza, who accompanied Ramaphosa to Ga-Sekhukhune yesterday, appeared surprised when City Press quizzed him on the matter.

“We are not aware of Cassel’s removal,” he said.

» Additional reporting by Sipho Masondo.

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