Battle for Mpumalanga

2018-02-25 06:01
David Mabuza, premier of Mpumalanga, has campaigned for the ANC deputy presidency as a "unity" candidate. (Photo: Gallo)

David Mabuza, premier of Mpumalanga, has campaigned for the ANC deputy presidency as a "unity" candidate. (Photo: Gallo)

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The race to replace former Mpumalanga ANC chairperson David Mabuza is getting ugly after one of the contenders claimed he feared for his life following his brief arrest last week.

ANC provincial executive member and city of Mbombela speaker Mandla Msibi believes his 1am arrest for malicious damage to property on February 12 was aimed at foiling his chances for the top job.

Mabuza was elected ANC deputy president at the Nasrec, Johannesburg, conference in December and might leave his premier position if President Cyril Ramaphosa appoints him in his Cabinet or decides that he should work full time at Luthuli House.

For the first time in nine years and after two conferences, the Mpumalanga ANC will have a contested election for the provincial chairpersonship.

Msibi is among seven contenders for the chairpersonship. Others include Lucky Ndinisa (former provincial secretary), Peter Nyoni (cooperative governance and traditional affairs head of department), Fish Mahlalela (MP), David Dube (Mpumalanga legislature member), Mandla Ndlovu (current provincial secretary) and Charles Makola (former deputy chairperson).

None of the contenders is willing to back off, despite national chairperson Gwede Mantashe’s advice in Elukwatini two weeks ago that the candidates must talk to one another.

Also, Mabuza spoke about unity and had wanted an uncontested conference where leaders would be elected on consensus by branches.

“Go to that comrade, talk to him. Don’t throw yourself into a hat, talk to one another and try to reach consensus. Who will lead this province successfully? Don’t let all the comrades who want to be chairperson fight,” Mantashe said.

“You know when we went to the national conference, there were seven candidates. We fought it out and we ended up with two. By the time the conference took place there were many casualties … don’t get yourself into that risk. When you’re in trenches, you won’t be able to talk,” he said.

A series of unsavoury events followed Msibi parading as the next chairperson by nongovernmental organisation Practical Radical Economic Transformation (Pret), in Elukwatini near Emanzana (formerly Badplaas) on February 10 during the January 8 celebration addressed by Mantashe.

Msibi told City Press this week that police armed with rifles swooped at his house in Pienaar outside Mbombela, as if he was a hardened criminal.

The arrest happened after a business community meeting in ward 26 where participants expressed displeasure about Msibi’s alleged links to vigilantism and demanded that he step down as council speaker. After that meeting a mob allegedly vandalised a vehicle belonging to councillor Themba Bulunga, who was at that meeting.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said Msibi was released before he even appeared before the Kanyamazane Magistrates’ Court because the docket had to be taken to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a decision.

“When police are done with investigations the case will be brought back. The case was not withdrawn, but was not put on the court roll,” Sedibe said.

Sedibe said police were not investigating politics but the criminal act. “Police are not pushed by politicians,” he said.

But Msibi has blamed safety and security MEC Pat Ngomana and provincial police commissioner General Mondli Zuma for doing nothing about his “harassment” by police when he allegedly called them.

Ngomana was initially in the race to replace Mabuza, but withdrew in favour of current secretary Mandla Ndlovu. Ngomana’s reasons for withdrawing are unclear, but Pret had begun kicking up a storm about his “Mozambican” origin and questioning if he was in the country legally. He will stand as secretary – which is largely considered to be favoured by Mabuza.

Mpumalanga is due to hold a provincial general council to fill Mabuza's vacancy and that of his deputy Violet Siwela.

Siwela was also elected into the national executive committee.

“This is about the upcoming provincial general council and nothing else. I wasn’t there when the group vandalised that vehicle. I was surprised when Ngomana and Zuma did not take my calls after this incident,” Msibi said.

“I think I could have been killed if I had tried to resist. The police came armed with rifles as if I was involved in a heist. My wife and child have left home because they fear being killed,” he said.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, said: “Our members are not fuelled by politics. We refute such allegations that our action was politically motivated.”

Ngomana denied any involvement in Msibi’s arrest. “That’s not true. I will never target comrades because of politics and I can’t use government resources to do that,” said Ngomana. “But it is common that before an elective conference in Mpumalanga, allegations of sabotage and threats fly around.”

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It is the first time there is more than one contender for Mpumalanga chairperson. Who do you think deserves the position?

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Read more on:    anc  |  david mabuza

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