ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane has finally played his hand and “forced” a cabinet reshuffle, which resulted in his being included into the executive a few months after being sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature.
The Mabuyane-led provincial executive committee (PEC) of the ANC has been at loggerheads with Premier Phumulo Masualle, who first refused to recognise the legitimacy of the structure or take instructions from it.
Mabuyane and Masualle locked horns in a chaotic and violent ANC provincial conference in October last year in which the two, once allies serving in the previous PEC as secretary and chairperson for eight years, fought for the position of chairperson.
In the end Mabuyane, who was sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature in February, won the conference amid protestation from Masualle and his group – who left the conference venue at the East London International Convention Centre after the violence, even before voting could take place.
Mabuyane was announced as the new chairperson when his supporters remained behind and carried on with conference business, having been given the go-ahead by national executive committee (NEC) deployees.
Masualle launched a formal dispute with the NEC, which appointed former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sbu Ndebele to investigate the matter. Masualle’s supporters launched various court bids to oust the PEC, all of which failed.
Masualle continued to defy orders from the PEC, including being summoned to attend party meetings and later a call for him to reshuffle his cabinet.
So incensed were the PEC members with Masualle’s lack of cooperation, they proposed
to the party’s leadership that he be fired in a provincial cabinet shake-up, but this was rejected
by the NEC which wanted Masualle to finish
The NEC did, however, give the go-ahead that he reshuffle the cabinet as per the PEC’s instructions.
Mabuyane is now the new MEC for provincial treasury and economic development, environmental affairs. Mabuyane’s deputy in the PEC, Mlungisi Mvoko is the new MEC of human settlements and Bulelwa Tunyiswa, the former deputy speaker, is the new MEC for sport, recreation, arts and culture.
The new minister of rural development and agrarian reform is SA Communist Party provincial secretary Xolile Nqatha.
These are all close allies of the new ANC chairperson.
What could have been a bitter pill to swallow for Masualle, and which had made him reluctant to effect the changes since the beginning of the year when the ANC PEC first instructed him, was the fact that those he was told to fire were his supporters at the watershed October conference.
Some of those he had to remove included Mlibo Qoboshiyane, former MEC of rural development and agrarian reform; Nancy Sihlwayi, former MEC of social development; Thandiswa Marawu, roads and public works MEC; and his former deputy in the previous PEC Sakhumzi Somyo former MEC of provincial treasury and economic development, environmental affairs.
Other changes included former MEC for sports, recreation, arts and culture Pemmy Majodina moving to public works, former health MEC, Phumza Dyantyi moving to social development and Helen Sauls-August has moved from human settlements to the health portfolio.
The unpopular education MEC Mandla Makupula, cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa and MEC for transport Weziwe Tikana all kept their respective positions.
However the reshuffle is headed for court.
A letter addressed to Masualle from Wikus van Rensburg attorneys and dated May 10 is attributed to a group of concerned members of the ANC who attended the October provincial conference and have instructed the lawyers to: interdict the PEC from taking any further decisions, pending the decision of the NEC on the Ndebele report into the legitimacy of the elective conference.
The application is due to be heard at the Grahamstown High Court, but in the meantime the instructions are that Masualle not take any further action or decisions on instructions from the current PEC.
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