Mzwandile Masina under siege

2017-08-27 05:59
Mzwandile Masina supports President Jacob Zuma, but the rest of Gauteng is mostly anti-Zuma. Picture: Jan Right

Mzwandile Masina supports President Jacob Zuma, but the rest of Gauteng is mostly anti-Zuma. Picture: Jan Right

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Mzwandile Masina, the mayor of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng and the ANC’s regional chair, is once again on the brink of losing his position.

Masina is one of the few supporters of President Jacob Zuma in a province that is mostly anti-Zuma. His critics have refused to let him settle into his position.

Masina survived an attempted motion of no confidence in June after Gauteng ANC secretary Hope Papo intervened.

With Ekurhuleni’s regional general council scheduled to take place at the end of next month, the stage is set for yet another attempt to have Masina removed as ANC chairperson.

His detractors, who are unhappy with his leadership, are also plotting to have him stripped of his mayoral title.

Plans are afoot to lobby councillors in the Ekurhuleni municipality to raise a motion of no confidence, which will see some ANC councillors vote him out, and some members of the mayoral committee are being canvassed to set the wheels in motion.

This could have a ripple effect for the ANC, which has a precarious majority in council, aided by the African Independent Congress.

The latter party has also threatened to pull out of the ANC-led coalition.

“Branches no longer want Masina,” said one ANC leader in Ekurhuleni.

“The first strike is to remove him as chair at the regional general council and then remove him as mayor, while a task team prepares for a regional elective conference within 90 days.

“He lost his own zone and has no branch in Tembisa that supports him. In Kempton Park, he has two out of four branches that were behind him and one zone in the east, while there is nothing in Germiston.”

But Masina remained unshaken by the manoeuvres and plots aimed at ensuring his downfall even in council, saying they were the most adventurous political propositions he had heard.

But, he admitted, “nothing is impossible these days. They can go ahead and plot. It’s just that, nothing more.

Remember, I am not a monarch, I am an elected leader and we are going to the regional elective conference in November.

Why would those who want to challenge me not wait?

“In council, I have no seat; it is the seat of the ANC. They can go ahead – I have done my best to lead the institution with integrity.

“If the ANC is removed from its governing position, I will be the leader of the opposition,” he said.

Masina said he came to the ANC alone and it would be wrong to think everyone liked him.

“But I can assure you that the majority of the ANC supports me,” he said.

He linked the plot to remove him to a faction that hated Zuma and believed it had the capacity to remove him, even though it had tried everything to do so but had failed.

"This is political power, not a kingdom"

Two months ago, Masina’s political life was tested when some branch members raised a motion of no confidence in him at the regional policy conference, but the Gauteng provincial leadership intervened.

ANC provincial secretary Papo thwarted those attempts, saying this type of conference had no powers to effect the removal of an elected leader.

However, the regional general council does have such powers.

Masina disagreed, saying he could only be removed as chairperson by conference.

He also said only the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) could remove him as mayor.

His supporters, to whom City Press spoke, did not believe that the ANC councillors would sell out and hand over power so easily.

As for Masina, he said he remained firmly in control of structures and was not worried.

“This is political power, not a kingdom. People are free to express themselves,” he said.

“The regional general council will sit soon and I will still be the chair until the conference. We cannot run the ANC through rumours from unknown sources.”

His backers insisted that his support base comprised 70% of branches, while those who want him out claimed Masina only had minority support.

A pro-Masina leader said the attempts to oust him were meant to dismantle the campaign by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to be elected ANC president at the December conference, where Zuma’s successor will be decided.

He insisted that Masina had strong support on the ground, particularly with regional treasurer Thembinkosi Nciza by his side, and that he would remain in charge.

Masina has been accused of being fully behind Dlamini-Zuma’s presidential campaign, hoping that his hard work would pay off when the time comes to appoint premiers in 2019.

But others within his regional executive want another presidential contender, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, to take over.

The ANC women’s and youth leagues, as well as the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association in the province have nailed their colours to the mast in support of Dlamini-Zuma.

“Every one of us has a right to lobby for whomever we want to until the provincial general council,” said one Masina supporter.

He blamed the ANC’s Gauteng leadership for the campaign against Masina, charging that “many comrades who are fighting against us report to them”.

The ANC’s Gauteng spokesperson, Nkenke Kekana, denied the claims that they were pushing for Masina’s axing.

City Press has reported on Masina’s ambitions, but he poured cold water over this.

This week, City Press heard fresh talk of Masina possibly standing for the ANC’s NEC in December.

This was confirmed by those in his circle.

But his detractors said the fact that Masina’s group was defeated at the recent leadership contest in the Grace Flathela structure in Vosloorus – by a group in support of regional secretary Teliswa Mgwebu and deputy secretary Petrus Mabunda – spoke volumes about his influence and, possibly, his future.

The three apparently did not see eye to eye, rendering the regional executive committee almost dysfunctional.

Mabunda contested Masina at the previous elective conference and was defeated.

The infighting was so serious that Mgwembu wrote a letter to the Gauteng ANC leadership a few months ago, complaining about the existing tensions and proposing that the region be disbanded.

It is understood that he also wrote about how some decisions by Masina were not taken to council, and how the city manager undermined members of the mayoral committee.

City Press also heard about a recent attempt by Masina’s backers to remove Mgwembu at one of the regional executive committee meetings, but this failed.


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Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nkosazana dlamini-zuma  |  mzwandile masina

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