Political lifeline for Malema
Polokwane - Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale’s re-election as provincial ANC chairperson signalled a need for policy shift and leadership change at next year’s ANC national elective conference in Mangaung, his jubilant supporters said.
Hours after Mathale’s victory against challenger Joe Phaahla, his supporters charged that the outcome of the tense conference at the University of Limpopo near Polokwane sent a clear message that he was “clean” and ready to lead his province towards “economic freedom”.
They told City Press that the election results, which saw Mathale defeat Phaahla by 601 votes to 519, showed that President Jacob Zuma had committed “political suicide” by suspending ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema and later taking over half of the Limpopo provincial government departments.
A confident Malema stopped at the main entrance on his way out, punched his fist in the air in jubilation and joined the crowd in song and dance, before speeding away.
Malema was flanked by his confidants, Clifford Motsepe and ANCYL secretary general Sindiso Magaqa.
He clearly was aware that Mathale’s victory not only potentially offered him a political lifeline, but was a major boost to his efforts to topple Zuma.
Thulani Twala, an ANCYL leader from the Mopani region, said the outcome showed that the people of Limpopo had a lot of confidence in Mathale’s leadership. “I feel great. The result has sent a message of confidence to the people of Limpopo and I think it will clear Mathale’s name.
“He will lead Limpopo on the road to economic freedom. This result sets us on the correct path towards what we believe should happen in Mangaung particularly on policy shift,” Twala said.
After the confirmation of the results a group of women sang their lungs out in jubilation next to the main entrance to the university.
Blowing whistles and clad mainly in ANC regalia, including kangas, they intensified their chanting of songs mocking Zuma and accusing him of having betrayed Malema.
“O le mene mene wena shower [Zuma]. Orekisitse Malema [You are a sell-out, you shower. You sold Malema out]”, they chanted.
One of them, Whisker Manotwane, from the Phooko Ratsoma branch in Sekhukhune, said she was pleased because Mathale’s named had been “cleared” by the election results.
“They said Mathale is a thief. They must stop spreading lies about him. Mathale is ours. We go everywhere with him. Zuma has committed political suicide,” Manotwane said.
Another Mathale supporter, who did not want her name to be published because she worked for a municipality run by his opponents, said “we want people to learn not to spread rumours without evidence. We have elected a person we like. We like Mathale and want him to be fired only when there is evidence”.
Mathale’s second term was a bitter pill to swallow for Phaahla’s supporters.
Some were inconsolable and claimed Mathale won by “crookery”.
A disappointed Limpopo businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said: “It is a sad day for Limpopo.
"I have been receiving calls from as far as Gauteng. People are asking themselves, ‘What is wrong with Limpopo?’. Despite all of the problems, they still elected this man.
And they lump us together. [It was] probably rigged. It is not possible for him to win.”
But Mathale’s supporters said Phaahla’s supporters had sour grapes.
Mathale’s re-election was “inevitable” because he had performed his duties diligently, they added.