Northern Cape State of the Province Address delivered amid ANC tensions

2017-02-23 11:31
Northern Cape SOPA. (Ntozake Mthukwane)

Northern Cape SOPA. (Ntozake Mthukwane)

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Kimberley - There was a heavy police presence outside the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre on Thursday morning ahead of Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas' State of the Province Address.

This will be Lucas' fourth address and there are expectations of possible disruptions from disgruntled ANC members.

Last week, Lucas was whisked away unharmed by police after violence broke out between warring factions in the provincial ANC.

Disgruntled ANC members disrupted a provincial executive (PEC) lekgotla at the Horseshoe Motel in Kimberley on February 13.

Lucas is popularly known as the "fast food premier" after using R50 000 from her government issued credit card to buy food from KFC and Wimpy within ten weeks of taking office.

- Read more here: Premier spends R50k on fast food

She is pitted against incumbent provincial secretary Zamani Saul for the position of chairperson at the party's elective conference in March.

Premier League backing

ANC heavyweights Gwede Mantashe and Jessie Duarte co-chaired another lekgotla marred by internal strife and tensions this week.

However, Lucas' supporters were angered when Saul, instead of Luthuli House, issued a statement in the aftermath of the second lekgotla.

At 17:00 on Wednesday they met at the RC Elliot Hall in Galeshewe, about 10km from the motel, to weigh up their options.

Mantashe is believed to have thrown his support behind Saul while Duarte supports Lucas, said a source.

Lucas also has the backing of the so-called "Premier League", which is led by the premiers of the North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State, and is in favour of a Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma presidency. Saul supports the bid to have Cyril Ramaphosa succeed President Jacob Zuma at the December elective conference.

Prior to the disruptions, former ANC provincial chairperson and convicted fraudster John Block apparently met Lucas' supporters in Jan Kempdorp and Taung.

"It was not a coincidence that after he went there buying booze, there were disruptions in Kimberley the following day.

"Block wants to influence and run the Northern Cape through Lucas from the grave," said ward councillor Shadrack Thube.

Close relationship with Block

Block was seen in photos on social media with activists at what appeared to be a social event.

He resigned as MEC for finance and ANC chairperson after he was found guilty of fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 15 years in jail. He is out on bail while he appeals the conviction.

- Read more here: Former Northern Cape ANC chair John Block gets 15 years in jail

Block is still revered in the province and, by Lucas's own admission, he shares a close relationship with her.

While her office was silent on what announcements she would make in her speech, opposition parties seized the moment to offer a glimpse of what they expect.

"Premier Lucas has the opportunity to deliver her address which goes beyond her usual empty rhetoric and tables tangible solutions to the very real problems: unemployment, crime, corruption, drought and unsafe roads," said the DA's Andrew Louw.

Saul was optimistic, saying: "We resolved that 30% of procurement must be set aside for SMME's and black business."

He also said that the party in the province would lobby the national leadership for sustainable industrial development.

Read more on:    anc  |  john block  |  sylvia lucas  |  kimberley  |  politics

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