Cassel Mathale happy with Limpopo result
Polokwane - Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale was happy that he managed to retain his position as ANC provincial chair after battling it with deputy arts and culture minister Joe Phaahla at the polls on Sunday.
“I’m feeling okay. Delegates have expressed their views and the election has been okayed by the National Executive Committee as being free and fair,” Phaahla told media amidst celebrations inside a hall the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus, were his re-election was officially announced.
Mathale said the outcome of the ANC provincial elective conference was credible. This was amidst allegations that some ANC Youth League members were duplicating election name cards on Saturday at a local printing shop.
Police confirmed that a journalist who had gone to investigate the claims was assaulted.
Mathale’s marginal 82-vote victory in the highly contested election was no surprise for his supporters, who felt the writing was on the wall all along.
Mathale denied the outcome would divide the province, saying an elective conference was all about preference.
“Delegates lobbied from branches… it’s different preferences that produce an outcome. We can’t say that when two people are nominated it results in a division. It’s a preference.”
No hard feelings
Mathale said there were no hard feelings between himself and Phaahla.
“Joe is my comrade and he remain my comrade.”
Mathale also rubbished a commentator’s assertions that his political career depended on him retaining his two positions.
He said he did not understand what career was being referred to because he was an activist and volunteer of the ANC.
“A conference does not determine a career. It has nothing to do with a career.”
Mathale denied knowing anything about fractions and the purging of members in the province.
On Saturday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe warned delegates against slates, saying it had become a growing phenomenon within the ruling party in recent years.
Earlier, the ANC Women's League hailed Mathale’s re-election.
"We are happy with the outcome. It was expected,” said provincial secretary Maleke Mokganyetsi after the official results.
Mathale won with 601 votes while Phaahla received 519 votes.
Voted in as deputy chairperson was Dickson Masemola, the secretary is Soviet Lekganyane, the treasurer is Pinky Kekane and her deputy is Florence Dzhombere. They are all in Mathale's group.
Mokganyesti said those who decided to boycott the Sunday sessions because their preferred candidate lost, should remember they were still part of the same organisation.
“If you can't beat then, join them,” she said, adding that their loss should not cause divisions.
“There's always tension at elective conferences. It will not cause divisions. They must support Mathale.” Mokganyetsi praised Mathale's leadership, saying he was able to bring unity in the province.
Mathale's supporters started celebrating in the early hours of Sunday morning before the official announcement. This was apparently after receiving text messages that informed them of their victory.
The mood was heightened by Mathale's victory, with more singing and ululating after the official announcement was made.
Suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and the province's newly elected top five embraced each other in celebration.
He smiled broadly and appeared more at ease and lively than he had been on Saturday. Since the conference began on Saturday, Mathale supporters have been occasionally singing a song mocking President Jacob Zuma.
Malema had joined in the song while gesturing with a make-believe shower head.
The song with the words "showara wa re sokodisa (the shower man is giving us a hard time)" was sung on Saturday as Motlanthe arrived to address delegates.
It was a reference to Zuma, who at his rape trial in 2006 told the High Court in Johannesburg that he took a shower after having unprotected sex with his HIV-positive accuser. He was acquitted on the charge.
Mathale supporters were unhappy at Zuma's recent placing of five Limpopo departments under administration after Mathale asked treasury for a R1.7bn bailout to pay wages and suppliers.
On Sunday, a small group defiantly continued singing and gesturing outside the hall, although Mathale had warned during his address to delegates against the singing of derogatory songs.
Phaahla supporters kept a low profile on Sunday and are said to have decided not to come to the venue.
“Why would they come here? The painting was on the wall the whole time. The voting was just a formality,” said an official.
Mathale enjoyed the support of more regions compared to that of Phaahla's, including Peter Mokaba, Waterberg, part of Vhembe, the ANCYL and the Women's League.
Mathale's chances of retaining his position had been threatened by the recent placing of some provincial departments under administration by President Zuma.
Malema and Mathale are known to be part of a faction that wants to oust Zuma as ANC president in Manguang next year and replace him with Motlanthe.
The ANC decided to send Motlanthe to address delegates at the conference, to reportedly save Zuma embarrassment after it was learned that he would be booed by the pro-Mathale group.
Delegates started nominating provincial executive committee members in a closed session at 11:00.
Malema is said to be on the list.
Announcement of results will be on Monday morning. This will be followed by report back sessions by commissions, after which delegates will draft resolutions and programmes to implement them.
The conference ends on Tuesday.