Two Joes, one Cassel

2011-11-05 19:06

Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla and businessman Joe Mathebula are facing off against Limpopo Premier and provincial ANC chairperson Cassel Mathale in a battle for the soul of the ANC in Limpopo.

Phaahla has emerged as the “Big Joe” to take on Mathale for the powerful position of provincial chairperson at the ruling party’s highly contested provincial conference next month.

This after being endorsed by a caucus of supporters of the two Joes held at a lodge in Polokwane last week.

But Big Joe will not be premier even if his coalition manages to topple Mathale.

“Small Joe”, who will be Phaahla’s party deputy, will take over as premier from Mathale early next year in what appears to be a compromise deal between the two men’s supporters.

The deal follows a year of wrangling and disagreements over which Joe to put forward as the face of the anti-Mathale coalition.

More than 120 representatives – from the tripartite alliance, the South African National Civil Organisation, the South African Students Congress and the Congress of South African Students – attended a marathon meeting where the decision was taken, according to four sources who
were present.

Widely seen as the “coalition of the wounded”, the group comprises politicians, businessmen and civil servants who feel marginalised by Mathale.
Mathebula, Gilbert Kganyago, the SA Communist Party’s secretary in Limpopo, and his labour federation Cosatu counterpart, Dan Sebabi, confirmed the meeting.

The coalition agreed on the following:
» A top-five list headed by Phaahla with Mathebula as his deputy, Joe Maswanganyi as provincial secretary, deputised by Joy Masoge, and former provincial ANC Women’s League chairperson Rosina Semenya as treasurer;

» To fire Mathale and more than half of his MECs early next year if it wins, and replace him with Mathebula as premier;

» To overhaul the Limpopo government by replacing senior civil servants and parastatal chief executives implicated in tender corruption or seen as incompetent; and

» To push for a candidate from the province to stand for the position of ANC national chairperson when the ruling party holds its elective conference next year.

Kganyago said the meeting agreed to push for a “visionary” leadership that would unite the alliance, bring integrity to the provincial government, enjoy public confidence, fight corruption and ensure “detenderisation”.

Sebabi added: “The overall mission is to rescue the ANC from a foreign tendency of selling it to the highest bidder.”

Mathebula said he was aware of the proposed list and added: “Let us wait for democracy and formal branch nominations to take place.”

An insider confirmed the planned reshuffle if the group emerged. He said: “After the conference, Phaahla will remain in Pretoria (as deputy minister) and Mathebula will go to Limpopo to basically run the province.”

The caucus was held two days after the Mathale camp released its own list and promised “to elect a leadership collective that will reflect the generational mix and be ready to pursue our objective of economic freedom”.

David Masondo, the Limpopo ANC’s spokesperson, said he was unaware of the meeting of the two Joes’ supporters or its decisions.

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