- Paul Mashatile has promised to serve, rather than enrich himself, if he is elected ANC deputy president.
- His campaign for the position is facing some headwinds, with the province that boosted his nomination, KwaZulu-Natal, announcing that it was reconsidering its support.
- Mashatile declined to comment on how the province's stance affects his chances.
With his back against the wall after the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal indicated that it was rethinking its support for him in his bid for the ANC deputy presidency, Paul Mashatile's campaign received a welcome boost as party leaders from his hometown banded together to throw their support behind him.
ANC national executive members (NEC) Obed Bapela, Nkenke Kekana, and Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya came out in a show of support for Mashatile on Tuesday.
Delivering the political lecture on "the real renewal of the ANC" in Alexandra, Johannesburg, Bapela said the party needed to start working for the people to ensure its survival.
"Paul is the type of a leader who, if he does occupy that position of deputy president, the ANC will be in safe hands," Bapela said.
He admitted that the ANC had lost its way in recent times due to deep-seated factional battles and leaders' preoccupation with corruption instead of serving the people.
'We want nothing special'
When he took the podium at the packed Alexsan Kopano Educational Trust in Alexandra, Mashatile said his only desire was to serve.
Mashatile said: "The answer to the question, why do I want to be deputy president is simple: I want to serve. As we avail ourselves leading up to the ANC's elective conference, we do so to serve our people. We want nothing special for ourselves or our families; we just want to serve."
He said he did not want ANC members to shower him with gifts if he becomes deputy president, but to approach him with their challenges which he promised to prioritise.
The show of support for Mashatile on Tuesday comes as the tide seems to be turning against him. The party's biggest province – KwaZulu-Natal – indicated that it was reconsidering its support for him.
The ANC in KZN endorsed NEC member Zweli Mkhize for the position of president and backed Mashatile for the deputy position until he said that although he had been nominated for the deputy presidency, he would not rule out making a play for the presidency.
In a veiled jab at Mashatile, ANC KZN chairperson Siboniso Duma said other provinces would not bully his province into supporting Mashatile for the deputy presidency.
Duma said lobbying was still under way and would continue until 16 December, when the conference begins.
His bone of contention was that the ANC could not have its entire leadership from Gauteng. He called for the party to show some diversity in its nominations and election of leaders.
"Gauteng province, you are not entitled just to bulldoze us; please don't bully us – come to the foyer, and let us debate robustly," he said.
Duma added: "Why do we have to support your candidate if you don't support ours?"
"It's not like the ANC Gauteng must get the entire leadership... we are not going towards a provincial Gauteng conference. It is a national conference. So, we must embrace the spirit of ensuring that. Let us be diverse," he said.
Asked how the stance of the ANC in KZN could affect his push for the deputy presidency, a visibly irritated Mashatile said: "You go and ask them (the ANC in KZN)."
Mashatile led nominations, with 1 791 branches endorsing him for the deputy president post. His support was hinged on nominations from KZN.
He received 521 nominations from the province. He also received support from Gauteng, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.
Three names are expected to be on ballot for the position, with Justice Minister Ronald Lamola receiving 427 nominations – the bulk from Mpumalanga.
Eastern Cape ANC chairperson Oscar Mabuyane received support from 397 ANC branches – most from his home province. Only seven other branches outside the Eastern Cape supported his candidacy for the deputy president position.
Incumbent deputy president David Mabuza only managed to garner 77 nominations, disqualifying him from the ballot.