Is Mashatile on the ropes?

2017-10-08 05:47
Paul Mashatile. Picture: Loanna Hoffmann

Paul Mashatile. Picture: Loanna Hoffmann

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The collapse of the long-awaited ANC Ekurhuleni regional general council meeting may come to haunt Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile as some irate branches contemplate rejecting his nomination for a spot in the party’s top six.

Mashatile is being partly blamed for protecting Ekurhuleni chairperson Mzwandile Masina, who branches had intended to remove, along with his regional executive committee.

Mashatile spoke after Masina’s political overview and placed himself in an awkward position when he appeared to try and dissuade branches from trying to pass a motion of no confidence in Masina.

He told them to end divisions and pleaded for the province to go to the party’s national elective conference in December united.

Masina, who is also mayor of the Ekurhuleni metro, has been putting out fires and trying to save his political future since his term started in August last year.

So deep was the resentment against him that his detractors were confident they had the numbers to see the back of him by the end of the council meeting.

However, this did not happen. The gathering collapsed in the early hours of Friday morning after disagreements over credentials.

Several delegates who attended the gathering told City Press they were opposed to the council continuing, because the 25 member regional committee, which supports Masina, wanted to vote.

This also applied to the ANC’s Ekurhuleni youth and women’s leagues, whose legitimacy is being contested in court.

There were attempts to nullify both the ANC Women’s League and ANC Youth League structures over irregularities.

A branch leader said Mashatile had come there to calm down delegates and left with other provincial leaders as the fracas ensued.

“He should have stayed and observed. The fact that he left tells us Mashatile is not interested in our plight and is in fact more sympathetic to Masina.

"It tells us he cares more about the ANC staying in power in Ekurhuleni, since it’s the only metro we have in Gauteng,” said the insider.

“He wants to go to conference with a united force and be in the top six. In his own mind, Masina will lead, whether branches want him or not, all because of a municipality.

"Our suspicions have been proven true that he is protecting Masina.”

Others said that a “flawed” auditing process caused confusion. Instead of the expected 320 branches attending, only about 146 were present.

A fight ensued when it was proposed that the leagues be allowed to have more delegates at the council.

The leagues’ leadership supports Masina and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s presidential ambitions.

Attitudes have hardened

It’s understood there were attempts to frustrate proceedings before the council even sat. Some branch members lodged disputes when the regional leadership met prior to the gathering on Thursday.

Ekurhuleni ANC regional secretary Teliswa Mgwebu refused to speak to City Press, claiming she had no knowledge of the regional general council collapsing.

Gauteng ANC spokesperson Nkenke Kekana said Mashatile was there to give a keynote address and not as a provincial executive committee deployee to oversee the conference. That was the reason he left.

Mashatile is said to have waited over three hours before he could speak.

Despite this, attitudes have hardened against the provincial leadership.

Another branch leader said they had lost trust in Mashatile and were unsure who he wanted party members to unite behind as the ANC succession battles intensified.

“Comrades are really angry that Paul appeared to be biased towards Masina. Questions are being asked about which side Paul is on and the sentiment is that he can no longer be trusted.

"He messed it up with not being clear about the province’s position and all he talks about is unity.”

What ruffled feathers was the fact that Mashatile was fraternising with Mpumalanga ANC chairperson David “DD” Mabuza.

Both are apparently trying to find a way for ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize to become party president, as a compromise candidate between the other contenders, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma.

City Press last week revealed that the trio’s plan was to position themselves as a solid voting bloc or power brokers when the party goes to its elective conference, in the name of unity.

Seemingly aware of the whirlwind forming around him, Mashatile called structures to a Gauteng cadres’ forum four days after the council collapsed, to explain himself.

He told the meeting not to believe reports that he was on the third way bandwagon and affirmed the Gauteng ANC’s support for Ramaphosa.

The provincial executive committee had taken that decision long ago and proposed that he join the ANC’s top six, he told the meeting.

He used the platform to explain the initiative by the provincial chairpersons, as delegated by the national executive committee, to seek consensus to avoid a bruising contest in December and the prospect of the ANC losing the 2019 elections.

It appears this has not extinguished all the fires.

Another branch leader indicated a caucus has been scheduled today (Sunday), where it is hoped that those still against Mashatile can be convinced not to snub him when branches start nominations on Friday.

“If Paul focuses his energies on the Ramaphosa campaign, he will win at the conference. But let’s see which way the wind blows for him.”

Mashatile already features on both the Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma slates as treasurer.

Gauteng is set to consolidate branch nominations at the provincial general council, scheduled for November.

Meanwhile, there is still appetite to fight for the reconvening of the regional general council, to get rid of Masina.

It would be the only chance since the regional elective conference, which was scheduled for November, was postponed until next year.

Some of his detractors say that, with the province twice protecting him, it is clear he will remain unscathed. Masina’s supporters believe he defeated a coup attempt last week.

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Read more on:    anc  |  zweli mkhize  |  mzwandile masina  |  paul mashatile  |  sa politics

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