David Mabuza still eyeing ANC top six

2014-11-30 20:00

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Backers and foes of ANC chairperson and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza are at odds over whether allegations that he was an apartheid spy will harm his bid for a position in the party’s national top six.

While his enemies believe the allegations are “denting his credibility”, his supporters say branches will back him for a national role.

Mabuza is said to be eyeing a position as either national chairperson or treasurer-general of the ANC when the party holds its 2017 conference.

But he is now having to defend himself after former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa sent a document to Luthuli House accusing him of spying for the apartheid government.

Flanked by Mpumalanga ANC officials in Mbombela on Monday, Mabuza said he would sue Phosa for R10?million because he believes his predecessor was the source of the document.

Phosa said he did not say Mabuza was a spy, but only that he passed information he received to the ANC leadership to consider.

Mabuza has also asked President Jacob Zuma to appoint a commission of inquiry to probe the claims.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, confirmed receiving written questions to explain whether Zuma would accede to the request or not, but he had not responded to Mabuza at the time of going to press.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe indicated that the national leadership was not concerned.

“We don’t deal with those issues in the ANC. If Phosa says [he submitted the spy allegations to the ANC leadership], you better interrogate him,” Mantashe said.

Phosa and Mabuza are well-known enemies. Mabuza’s faction has accused Phosa of playing dirty to unseat the premier by funding service-delivery protests and linking his name to political assassinations.

Lucky Ndinisa, the ANC’s secretary in Mpumalanga, said the provincial executive committee took the allegations seriously.

“They’re damaging to the ANC and the stature of comrade DD Mabuza. We’re entering into this space because it is our understanding that if Mabuza was an ordinary person, these allegations would not arise.

“We are, however, not shaken that this smear campaign will influence branches not to elect him for leadership positions in future or affect his deployment in government,” Ndinisa said.

The spy allegations surfaced just as Mabuza and his backers started sending signals that he is eyeing a position in the top six.

Mabuza allegedly supported provincial ANC Youth League chairperson Desmond Moela to stand as Pule Mabe’s deputy before the league’s elective conference was canned this week.

Moela’s election would have been an investment for Mabuza’s top six campaign.

Back home, Mabuza is in a strong position, heading towards the 2016 provincial conference certain of winning a third term as the ANC’s chairperson in Mpumalanga.

The Nkangala region was the first to declare its support for this third term after Mabuza ally Speedy Mashilo was elected regional chairperson last month.

By remaining at the helm of Mpumalanga, Mabuza could launch his campaign as treasurer-general or chairperson from a solid foundation.

“He has suffered a double blow,” a rival said.

“The spy allegations are denting his credibility and now that the ANC Youth League elections were cancelled, we don’t know what his next move to prepare for national office will be.

“Their plan was that Moela should be Mabe’s deputy and should anything happen to Mabe because of his legal challenges, Moela would be in an even better position to rally the league behind Mabuza’s campaign.”

But Mabuza’s staunch supporter, Bohlabela regional secretary Mandla Ndlovu, played down the impact of the allegations.

“ANC branches will not be influenced by these allegations. It’s a joke and if it comes from Phosa?…?we’re asking when did he get this information? It’s obvious that after serving his term as premier, Mabuza must go national. It is our wish as a region and we’ll lobby branches to realise it,” Ndlovu said.

Moela would not say outright if the youth league supported Mabuza’s ambitions.

“We’ll defend our chairperson against these lies. Our view is that he must still contribute in the ANC whether provincially or nationally. He’s still relevant,” Moela said.

Mabuza, as ever, is playing his cards close to his chest.

His spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, had not responded to written questions at the time of going to press.

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