Battle ensues for Mpumalanga ANC top spots

2017-12-24 06:04
David Mabuza

David Mabuza

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A scramble is on to replace newly elected ANC deputy president David Mabuza in his position as Mpumalanga ANC chairperson – and the battle promises to be rough.

Mabuza leaves his nine-year reign in Mpumalanga with no apparent successor after he was voted into the top six this week at the Nasrec, Johannesburg, elective conference.

He has neither groomed nor appointed a replacement – at least not publicly.

The provincial ANC deputy chairperson Violet Siwela is also vacating her position after she was also elected to the national executive committee.

Although Siwela was unlikely to succeed Mabuza had she remained in her current position, the vacancy in the two top positions in Mpumalanga makes the fight even tougher.

Mpumalanga provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu said the province was in no hurry to fill the two vacancies and a provincial general council would be convened early next year. Even if that is the case, low-key lobbying started a few months ago when it seemed likely Mabuza was going to the national office. A list, believed to be crafted by Mabuza’s supporters, is apparently in circulation.

The frontrunner is Pat Ngomane, the provincial executive committee member, and MEC for safety and security.

Ngomane is Mabuza’s close ally but, unlike the outgoing chairperson, he does not enjoy support and popularity across Mpumalanga.

The ANC members behind the list also want the whole provincial top six reconfigured so that Jester Sidel, Ehlanzeni District Municipality mayor, replaces Siwela as provincial ANC deputy chairperson. According to the list, Ndlovu should remain in his position.

The surprise on this list is Themba Sigudla – president of the NGO Practical Radical Economic Transformation – who is proposed as treasurer.

Sigudla is close to Mabuza and is a benefactor of his DD Mabuza Foundation. The treasurer position is held by agriculture MEC Vusi Shongwe, who held the fort as acting premier when Mabuza was on sick leave for more than two months in 2015.

“These comrades just want to cause confusion,” Ndlovu said, referring to the creators of the list. “They must wait and allow branches to decide.

“We are not in a hurry to fill these positions and convene a special provincial general council because, according to the ANC constitution, there’s no vacuum.

“If both the chairperson and deputy are not available, any top-six official can assume the powers and functions of the chairman,” Ndlovu said.

However, the circulating list is nudging other factions into lobbying for their own candidates to counter Ngomane’s ascendancy.

Mpumalanga department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs head Peter Nyoni has been touted by another faction as a new provincial ANC chairperson.

Nyoni is a former provincial executive committee member who was expelled from the structures following allegations that he was associated with the defunct Save Mpumalanga ANC faction.

The group campaigned to topple Mabuza as both premier and chairman after accusing him of rigging ANC conferences and tolerating corruption in Mpumalanga’s administration.

Last year Mabuza appointed Nyoni to the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs when the premier started mending fences with estranged comrades and embarked on a campaign of uniting the ANC.

Nyoni said that he would leave the decision regarding Mabuza’s successor to the branches and accused individuals “who lack character” of crafting lists.

“I congratulate comrade DD [Mabuza] for flying the flag of Mpumalanga high, but the branches will have to look for a person who is going to unite the organisation. I’m not throwing my hat in the ring.”

While Ngomane and Nyoni might appear to be the front runners, City of Mbombela speaker Mandla Msibi is seen as a dark horse.

Msibi saved the city from falling into the hands of the opposition when he made up with Mabuza just before the 2016 local government elections.

Msibi, who was a councillor then, considered standing independently due to the huge support he had in the sprawling township of Pienaar.

More than 20 000 votes could have gone to him had Mabuza not intervened.

Msibi declined to comment about his plans about the race to fill the provincial ANC’s top vacancies.

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Read more on:    anc  |  david mabuza  |  mpumalanga

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