Mabuza vies for top six

2016-09-11 06:03
David Mabuza. Picture: Buks Viljoen

David Mabuza. Picture: Buks Viljoen

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Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has in effect confirmed that he is in the race to be the next ANC deputy president when the party holds its elective conference next year, as long as the race is not divisive.

Mabuza told his provincial executive committee (PEC) lekgotla in Hazyview last weekend that he would not be available to contest any national ANC position “in the midst of the rifts ravaging the organisation”.

Mpumalanga has been lobbying other provinces to support Mabuza to stand as deputy president in the ANC’s elective conference in 2017, and some leaders in KwaZulu-Natal are believed to be in agreement.

Mabuza broke the news to the PEC after members reiterated their call for him to stand. He repeated his views to the media afterwards.

His concern was that the ANC was fraught with factionalism, which led to its poor showing in the local government elections. Mabuza’s condition is that the ANC must first be united and new leaders should be elected based on a consensus among branches.

“I’ve promised our comrades that I will be at the centre of uniting the organisation and I’ll take an extra step to invite back those who have been purged or marginalised. There should be no slates in 2017 ... The election of leaders will be done in a collective manner,” Mabuza said.

This is the first time that Mabuza – who has been linked to the so-called Premier League, along with North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and Free State Premier Ace Magashule – has voiced his opinion on the ANC’s succession to any structure, though the campaign around him has been going on for a while.

The Premier League, as well as the ANC Women’s League, is believed to support African Union chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the ANC presidency.

A senior ANC leader opposed to Mabuza told City Press that Mabuza’s lobbyists had set up their base in Johannesburg.

He said: “Mabuza has deployed his soldiers in all the nine provinces. He rented properties to do political work for his campaign [and] the main commanding centre is in Gauteng. We have resolved with some comrades that we can’t fold our arms watching this man hijack our movement. We will embark on a similar campaign silently in an effort to counteract this.”

Mabuza did not respond to texted questions about this allegation and did not take phonecalls.

Mabuza told the PEC members that they should rather focus on rectifying the ANC’s declining performance at the polls and unity of the organisation.

He said the ANC needed to find a better way of electing leaders, after the Polokwane and Mangaung conferences were riddled with factionalism and led to the formation of “splinter organisations” – the Congress of the People (Cope) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

“This elephant [the ANC] will get finished,” Mabuza warned. “We must find the best way of electing leadership and Mpumalanga must be at the centre of uniting the ANC, even if it means we have to sacrifice certain things.”

After the PEC meeting, Mabuza told City Press that consensus about new leaders would avoid the formation of another splinter organisation.

“I heard these people [PEC] saying I must go and stand in the top six. I can’t be impressed by that and I’m not going to trample on the ANC. After Polokwane, we were not united and never healed. Experienced comrades left to join Cope,” he said.

“We went to Mangaung and it was the same factional approach … [and the] EFF was born. I’m not prepared to contest any position … There should be consensus and I’m not going to be part of the people who will hurt the ANC. Beyond this point, the ANC is dead … We can’t give birth to another child,” he said.

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) deputy president, Desmond Moela, is adamant that Mabuza should contest the deputy presidency.

“The chairperson is right to talk about unity of the organisation. As the ANCYL, we say that he should stand for a top-six position in the national executive committee. People want him there and he can use his skills to unite the ANC at national level,” Moela said.

Mpumalanga ANC secretary, Mandla Ndlovu, said: “A good comrade will not parade himself. We will allow our structures to talk to him”.

Mabuza defended President Jacob Zuma against accusations that he was to blame for the party’s dwindling support and loss of metros to DA-led coalitions.

He also dismissed the possibility of an early conference and said that Zuma would serve until the end of his term at the end of 2017.


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