Late start for Limpopo congress

2011-12-17 10:34

ANC members were trickling in at the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus where the party’s provincial elective congress was running behind schedule.

Long queues formed outside the campus’ security check- point, while officials handed out accreditation to delegates and media.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe arrived shortly before 9am with ANC provincial chairperson Cassel
Mathale.

Motlanthe was scheduled to address delegates at 10am and Mathale was due to deliver his political report an hour later.

Some ANC members walked around and mingled while others lay on the lawn catching up on sleep in the shade.

Other ANC officials sat in a white tent indulging on fruit and other edibles while watching soccer on television.
Delegates were expected to elect their leaders towards the end of the day.

Mathale, said to be a close ally of suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, is expected to face a challenge from Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla.

The four-day conference was expected to set the tone for the ANC’s succession battle in Mangaung in 2012.

Phaahla was reportedly aligned to a group of Limpopo politicians who support President Jacob Zuma ’s re-election next year.

Former ANC provincial executive committee member Joe Mathebula was reportedly a candidate for the position of deputy chairperson.

Malema had reportedly been nominated for a position in the provincial executive committee, despite his being
suspended for ill discipline.

He arrived at the venue with a group of ANC Youth League supporters who were singing in support of Mathale.

The same group chanted songs criticising Zuma saying: “Shower yare sokodisa” meaning the shower is giving us problems.

Zuma has been portrayed in political cartoons with a shower top above his head.

They also sang similar songs about Malusi Gigaba.

Reports suggested that if Mathale were to win, it would boost the youth league’s campaign to replace ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe with Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, and ANC president Zuma with Motlanthe.

A group loyal to songs and slogans in support of Mathale was heard while close by, his detractors were also chanting in support of their preferred candidate, Phaahla.

Earlier in the week, officials said they expected about 1 400 delegates, including guests and ANC alliance partners.

Zuma had been expected to address the delegates but the ANC had replaced him with Motlanthe. This was reportedly to save him embarrassment after it was learnt that delegates loyal to Mathale were unhappy with him and had planned to boo him, especially after his decision to put five of Limpopo’s departments under administration.

Some delegates talking among each other said the actual conference ended on Friday and that today’s event was only a formality.

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