Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale says he will avail himself to be re-elected as the province’s chairman once more should branches of the ANC vote for him.
Mathale was speaking at a media briefing session at the Limpopo ANC’s headquarters in Polokwane where the party’s National Executive Members deployed to the province announced the axing of the provincial leadership.
Mathale is now no longer the chairman of the province. Ruth Bhengu, convener of the NEC’s deployees to Limpopo, will be acting in that position until an interim structure to run the province and lead it to a conference is put in place.
Mathale, who described himself as the “former chairman, but a member of the ANC in good standing” said there was nothing that stops him from running for the chairmanship of the province – again.
“I’m a member in good standing and if branches of the ANC want me, I can never say no. I’ve never said no before.”
Bhengu also reiterated that Mathale had the right to run again. “Any member of the ANC is eligible to stand for any position. Nothing will prevent Cassel from standing if the branches want him”.
Bhengu said the main problems which forced the ANC to axe the Limpopo leadership were factionalism, the province’s support of former Youth League leader Julius Malema, the setting up of parallel structures and the botched and discredited pre-Mangaung nominations.
“When the ANC starts having factions, it’s a big problem. The province had divisions, parallel structures and obviously its support for Julius Malema, an expelled member of the ANC,” she said.
Bhengu, said the party will identify members in good standing to form part of the interim structure to run the province for not longer than nine months, as per the ANC’s constitution.
During that period they have to prepare for a new congress to elect new leadership, she said, adding that Mathale will remain as premier.
Mathale and provincial party secretary Soviet Lekganyane have pledged to support all processes leading to the election of new leaders, said Bhengu.
Mathale threw his weight behind the party: “Where we stand now is that we remain members of the ANC. We support whatever decisions have been taken. We accept the decision of the National Working Committee (the NWC recommended that the NEC disbands the Limpopo PEC).
“We will continue to serve the ANC in whatever capacity as we joined voluntarily. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the ANC. There is no alternative to the ANC.”
He said he and the disbanded PEC didn’t feel aggrieved by the NEC’s decision.
“If we felt we were being shortchanged, we wouldn’t be here (at the press conference). From time to time there will be challenges and we have to deal with them”.
Admitting accusations of vote-rigging for the first time, Mathale said he felt the pre-Mangaung conference could have been handled differently. During the nominations conference many branches complained of vote-rigging and being unfairly excluded.
“I’m not proud of what had happened,” he said, adding that it was not appropriate. But he believed they will emerge as better leaders after the experience of being disbanded.