ANC disunity spills over to Limpopo

2017-04-09 06:00
Stanley Mathabatha

Stanley Mathabatha

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As the ANC struggles to unite the party at national level, tension over party leadership candidates to be elected in December could reach boiling point in Limpopo’s regional and provincial conferences this month.

Not only is Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha’s position as chairperson being challenged because of his support for ANC deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but there are even calls that he be removed from the premiership. The anti-Mathabatha faction in Limpopo, known as Boko Haram, which supports ANC President Jacob Zuma’s preferred candidate Dlamini-Zuma, plans to oust the embattled Limpopo premier who has been branded Ramaphosa’s supporter.

Ruth Bhengu, convener for deployees of the ANC in Limpopo, confirmed to City Press that knives were out for Mathabatha, but did not mention names of implicated individuals. She said some party members in the province disapproved of Mathabatha. She was also referring to calls made by the Limpopo ANC Youth League’s (ANCYL’s) chairperson, Vincent Shoba, and secretary, David Selane, that Mathabatha be removed and labelling him the worst premier compared with his predecessors.

The league even suggested that ANC MP and former Limpopo secretary Joe Maswanganyi and controversial Minister Faith Muthambi be considered to replace Mathabatha.

It is understood that a meeting of the party’s provincial executive council (PEC) late last month, attended by ANC national executive committee (NEC) deployees in Limpopo, Nathi Mthethwa, Kebby Maphatsoe and Thoko Didiza, heard that ANC members approached the NEC at Luthuli House and President Jacob Zuma at Mahlamba Ndlovu presidential guest house and expressed their reservations with Mathabatha’s leadership, among other complaints.

Bhengu said the party’s deployees advised members to take on the PEC using proper channels. “We told them the PEC will then engage the national working committee after which the matter will be discussed by the national deployment committee of the ANC.”

"We call for unity in the ANC"

Meanwhile, the matter has spilt into regions and is expected to impact on upcoming regional conferences, which were scheduled to take place in February but were postponed to start this month.

Nocks Seabi, ANC Limpopo provincial secretary, has been accused of orchestrating Mathabatha’s downfall because he allegedly supported Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy for the party presidency. Pressed for comment, Seabi denied he used the province to lobby for Dlamini-Zuma.

“We condemn all forms of factionalism, public spats and corruption by ANC members, including all those who are deployed in government and Cabinet. The ANC will not tolerate people who are sowing divisions in the ANC in their respective deployments,” Seabi said.

“We call for unity in the ANC and I don’t belong to any faction. My relationship with comrade Mathabatha is intact.” He argued that the leadership in the province had not yet discussed Mathabatha’s future, therefore it was not proper to pronounce on the rumours to recall the premier.

Mathabatha said on many occasions that it was the culture of the ANC that the deputy president succeed the president.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said this week that he knew nothing about the recalling of some premiers by Zuma. “I’m hearing this from you, that provincial premiers will be removed by President Zuma. I’m not in a business of speculation. The unity of the ANC is my business. The ANC in Limpopo must resolve its own problems because there’s leadership there.”

Selane this week admitted that the ANC Youth League in Limpopo has smoked the peace pipe with Premier Mathabatha. “We had a bilateral meeting with the premier that he must empower the youth in employment and deployment. We demanded 40% of youth empowerment. We will call for his removal if he doesn’t keep his promise,” he said.

Mathabatha responded through his spokesperson, Kenneth Mathivha, who said: “The premier has not supported any faction. He has made it clear that branches support and nominate their preferred candidate.” He added that Mathabatha respected the ANC’s position of not pronouncing on a preferred candidate for the party’s presidential race until the NEC officially opened the contest.

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