Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha’s supporters have allegedly rejected a proposed deal for his rival Dickson Masemola to withdraw from the Limpopo ANC chairmanship race and stand as his deputy instead. Mathabatha and Masemola?–?who is Limpopo’s Public Works MEC?–?will contest for the chairmanship when the ANC holds its elective conference in January. Two senior ANC members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that SA Communist Party (SACP) national organiser Solly Mapaila and other party members met Mathabatha in Polokwane recently. “Mapaila and his entourage told them they were concerned about the divisions in the province. They convinced him that given the political climate there, the contest between him and Masemola would not be in the ANC’s and their interests as this would deepen divisions,” said one of the sources, who added that the members told Mathabatha they were worried that branches were fighting internal party battles instead of canvassing for the elections. “Of utmost concern is that the EFF and Agang, and other political organisations, are infiltrating our constituencies and recruiting our people, particularly young people, while we concentrate on fighting among ourselves. “The two agreed to go back to their branches to canvass the idea, but Mathabatha’s camp rejected it,” said the second source. It is claimed Masemola’s camp bought into the idea but was worried this might be an SACP strategy to start its 2017 election campaign to get its leader, Blade Nzimande, elected as ANC deputy president. Masemola said he had no knowledge of the meeting. “I was never involved in such a meeting, but unity and cohesion of the movement is paramount?– leadership issues are the responsibility of the branches.” Mathabatha confirmed that he had a meeting with Mapaila, but denied that such discussions took place. “In the meeting I had with those people, we never had any discussion around the issues you are raising.” Mapaila denied the claims but said he’d support any move aimed at forging peace within the Limpopo ANC.