ANC Gauteng spoilt for choice ahead of upcoming provincial congress – Lesufi

2018-07-06 16:36
Gauteng education MEC and ANC Gayteng deputy chairperson hopeful Panyaza Lesufi speaking to News24. (Supplied)

Gauteng education MEC and ANC Gayteng deputy chairperson hopeful Panyaza Lesufi speaking to News24. (Supplied)

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Gauteng ANC deputy chair hopeful Panyaza Lesufi says party members in the province will be spoilt for choice when the time comes to choose the second in command at the party's provincial congress later this month.

He was in conversation with News24, sharing his views on the ANC and the upcoming provincial congress at which he is expected to go head-to-head with economic development MEC Lebogang Maile and former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau for the position of deputy chairperson. 

"These are the brightest minds, talented minds...take Parks, he leads the international platform on local government. Just that there is one position, not three. All of us can easily be absorbed into that position," said Lesufi.

"Look at Lebogang...young, very bright, leading very strong economic development, a product of the student movement," added Lesufi, reflecting on his closest contender for the post.

There also appears to be consensus among party members in the province that current acting provincial chairperson David Makhura should not be contested. Lesufi confirmed he was approached to contest Makhura for chair of the province but he declined. He has lost to Makhura before, when they both contested the secretary position.

Lesufi, who was coy about his ambitions, said he was "warming up" to joining the top leadership collective if it meant changing the lives of the ordinary citizens in Gauteng. 

Just a 'media darling'

"If I am going to contribute to a better South Africa, a better Gauteng, then I am available, but if it's about other things I am unfortunately not going to," said Lesufi.

"It must not be me at all costs," he added, claiming that if there was someone better equipped to fulfil his vision for the province he would step aside and support that candidate.

The education MEC said he was humbled by some of the nominations he has received from branches in the ANC.

READ: New twists in Gauteng ANC leadership race as Makhura challenger emerges

He has been praised by some party members for his work ethic, which his supporters say would inject energy into the ANC's fight to regain the Gauteng metros the party lost during the 2016 local government elections and help retain the province when the country goes to the general polls in 2019.

However, others have argued that he is not the ideal candidate, accusing him of just being a "media darling" who knew when to appear to make it on to the top news bulletins of the day.

But Lesufi, insisting his quick reaction to incidents that occur in his government portfolio was genuine, said it was part of his character and something that was instilled in him as a young person.

Time as MEC coming to an end

"With my parents, they used to tell me don't allow a problem to solidify because when the problem is solid, you can't solve it. When it's still at an infant stage, you can direct the problem," said Lesufi.

He's also thought about some of the priorities the ANC should focus on in the province, should he emerge as a top leader in Gauteng.

These include addressing the constant heavy traffic on the province's roads, creating a new skilled labour force and addressing human settlement challenges, high crime and an ailing health system.

With Lesufi "warming up" to the idea of being Gauteng's deputy chairperson, his tenure as education MEC also draws to an end as South Africans prepare to vote for new governments nationally and provincially.

"If learners don't know where they can go to relieve themselves, that would pain me a lot and I wouldn't want to be a leader presiding over an institution not able to deliver those basic services," said Lesufi.

Reflecting on his time at the department, he said he was proud of the work he had done but still had a few issues he wanted to resolve before the country goes to elections. He said these include addressing the challenges of sanitation, water and electricity at some schools and fixing infrastructure at others, and noted that some pupils were being taught in asbestos and mobile schools.

Read more on:    panyaza le­sufi  |  david makhura
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