Panyaza Lesufi: My future is in the ANC

2018-07-29 10:23
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

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Apart from the emergence of young leaders into the Gauteng ANC provincial executive committee (PEC), the one big winner from the conference was education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

An interesting, but understated outcome of the provincial conference was that six of the Gauteng MECs serving in David Makhura’s provincial cabinet failed to make it back on to the PEC.

The six include Ismail Vadi, Uhuru Moiloa, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, Jacob Mamabolo, Faith Mazibuko and Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.

But Lesufi survived a gruelling battle for deputy chairpersonship with another MEC, Lebogang Maile, to win by a difference of a mere 22 votes.

Lesufi’s win last week and his current popularity as education MEC are in stark contrast to where he used to be years back when he lost to Makhura for the secretary post in 2009 and then to Boyce Maneli for the deputy secretary post in 2013.

An ardent Jacob Zuma supporter then, Lesufi was the whipping boy. But these days he breaks into uproarious laughter when reminiscing about those days.

However, he said at least these days contestations in conferences were not as bitter as they were when he first experienced it in the 1990s. At that time he supported Mathole Motshekga, who was competing with Frank Chikane for ANC Gauteng leadership.

“During that battle I told myself this is something I would never subject myself to. The insults, the angry songs: that was the first time I got experience of a leadership contest. And I just said this is not what I would want to be involved in.”

This time, Lesufi said, although he was initially reluctant when approached by branches, he was persuaded when people in the education sector strongly pushed for him.

He said the ability of the ANC to focus on its service to society now – instead of being consumed with itself – would improve its prospects at next year’s elections.

In last week’s conference no one slate (list of preferred leaders) won the conference.

“What we are seeing as a pattern is that ANC members are tired of slates. They are now saying we choose the best among the slates instead of one slate. If you look at the national conference in Nasrec last year and the KwaZulu-Natal conference last week, delegates are now putting the interests of the ANC above that of the slates. They are saying, ‘in each and every slate we choose the very best’.”

He said Gauteng would benefit from an influx of educated young people who had been voted into the new PEC last week.

“The focus is now firmly on what kind of Gauteng we want to create. We are looking at changing our spatial planning, modernising our transport modes, expanding the Gautrain into the normal rail network.

“We are also looking at modernising the taxi industry and moving away from current RDP houses to mega human settlements so that we respond massively to the mushrooming informal settlements.”

The mega human settlements would constitute a minimum of 20 000 houses; they would have schools, clinics and factories as they are built.

The province would also respond to the land crisis through its rapid land release programme.

“We have just finalised taking stock of land that is owned by government. And we are going to a land summit in two weeks.

“All this is part of a plan to kick-start the economy.

“I know that people might say we have taken a populist decision by doing away with e-tolls, but research after research indicated that it was a burden to consumers.”

Lesufi said the loss of Tshwane and Johannesburg metros to the opposition parties in the local government elections in 2016 had humbled the governing party and taught it the importance of unity.

“Now conference is responding to things that affect our constituencies. The taste of losing Tshwane and Johannesburg told us that this can go beyond here, so the sooner we regroup and promote unity, the better.”

The loquacious Lesufi was reticent on only one topic: his own future.

He gave the standard ANC response: “My future is in the hands of the ANC.”

Then he went on to explain why he had never really known what was next for him since primary school days. He said growing up, he dreamt about being the first black jockey, but was
told he was too
tall for horse riding when he went to
try his luck at the Newmarket horse racing venue.

“In reality, black people were not supposed to ride horses,” he said.

“That is the closest I got to choosing a career.”







Read more on:    anc  |  panyaza le­sufi

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