Battle within ANC Gauteng structures turns nasty ahead of elective conference

2018-05-31 20:35
David Makhura (File, Netwerk24)

David Makhura (File, Netwerk24)

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The battle for control of the ANC in Gauteng has turned nasty with ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members accusing Premier David Makhura of using "dirty tricks" to damage the image of economic development MEC Lebogang Maile and Emfuleni Mayor Jacob Khawe. 

Maile is expected to stand against former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau for the position of ANC deputy chair of the province while Khawe is expected to go up against current provincial secretary Hope Papo at the upcoming elective conference in June.

Makhura, who is currently deputy chair of the province, is expected to stand uncontested as chair. Makhura has been acting in the position since Paul Mashatile was elected treasurer-general at Luthuli House.  

The elective conference has pitted the former youth league leaders against the party's older generation with Maile and Khawe said to be backed by a strong lobby group within the ANC in the province that includes Mashatile and Maile's brother, Mike.

The latest spat was sparked by a statement released by Makhura on Wednesday announcing he had referred all forensic investigations to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). 

Enviro Mobi contract irregularities in spotlight

Khawe's "collapsing" municipality is expected to be placed under administration in the next few days. The municipality is in a dire financial position that has left it unable to pay utility bills and deliver some services.

Makhura said the SIU would investigate "irregularities involving the contracting between Maile's department and a repayment made to Enviro Mobi", a company linked to ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe. 

READ: SIU to investigate company associated with ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe

On the day Makhura released his statement Maile was handing over three-wheeler vehicles to informal waste pickers.

"The department's internal audit and the provincial treasury's report raised problems regarding a prepayment of R26m made to Enviro Mobi for the supply of motorised three-wheelers," Makhura said in a statement. 

Maile's backers questioned Makhura's statement, arguing that if he was genuine about fighting corruption he would not have singled out Enviro Mobi. 

"If this is genuine why not publish the details of all 300 forensic investigations and only pick one?" the source said. 

Mfuleni's fate to be decided on Friday

Another source said it was unfair that Emfuleni was being placed under administration, five months after Khawe was appointed mayor.

"The problems have been there before Khawe arrived, why did they not act then? Why now?" a youth league leader asked. 

The ANC Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC) is expected to meet on Friday to decide Emfuleni's fate. 

"Branches are nominating Khawe for provincial secretary, to the annoyance of Makhura. You can see it's deliberate in trying to destroy younger leaders who are contesting for deputy chair and provincial secretary," a PEC member told News24. 

The ANCYL in Sedibeng and Zone 16 have each released a statement slamming Makhura.

They accused Makhura of waging "war" against former youth league leaders including Maile to "project him as incompetent".

'There is no witch-hunt'

"It must be a clean campaign, people must not use government resources to undermine democratic outcomes of the ANC conference that is coming", Sedibeng ANCYL spokesperson Thabiso Hlongwane said. 

However, Gauteng ANCYL provincial chair Matome Chiloane distanced the league from the statements, saying Makhura's investigation was about ensuring a "corruption-free government".

"I don't believe there is an attack on comrade Maile, there is no witch-hunt by the premier [against] Maile. It doesn't hamper his chances to lead the province. What is mischievous is the deliberate isolation by some on the intention of the premier by choosing one issue when he said he is referring all allegations of financial irregularities and maladministration to the SIU," Chiloane said.

He said there would be a meeting with the two league structures.

"I don't understand their conduct...maybe they know more than we know, but from where I am sitting comrade Maile is not being targeted. I don't believe it has to do with conference but it is about a credible government promised to the people that we will fight corruption. 

"I fully support the generational leadership transitional programme [through] which a younger generation must come into the mainstream leadership," he said.

No choice

The premier's office has denied the claims that his actions were linked to the conference that is expected to be held at the end of June. 

"Premier David Makhura has always acted in the interests of the people. He is committed to fighting corruption and maladministration whenever allegations are made and he will institute appropriate action...not influenced by processes within the party," spokesperson Thabo Masebe said. 

Another source said the premier had no choice but to place Emfuleni under administration because of the cash crisis facing the municipality. Another said Maile could not distance himself from the allegations of maladministration in the Enviro Mobi contract. 

The Mail & Guardian reported that the Gauteng government was battling to contain the fallout from a controversial and unlawful R26m repayment for the motorised three-wheelers.

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