'Time to let the young govern' - Emfuleni mayor

Jacob Khawe
Jacob Khawe

ANC acting chairperson and Gauteng Premier David Makhura has again had to fight off claims that he is using state resources to fend off opponents in the battle for control of the province.

An intervention by ANC officials only just stopped Emfuleni mayor Jacob Khawe from resigning. His supporters were baying for Makhura’s blood following an announcement that his municipality would be placed under administration.

Khawe, who is being touted for the position of provincial secretary, was appointed as mayor in December. He told City Press on Friday that he and Makhura had made peace on Thursday.

Khawe reluctantly admitted that he also believed Makhura was gunning for him, but was convinced at the meeting that the decision to place his municipality under administration was not a power play ahead of the July 22 provincial conference, but merely a governance call.

“Subsequent to our engagement with the office bearers, it was clear that there were gaps of information with regards to work done by Emfuleni, and that this has nothing to do with politics or a motion of no confidence in myself. The issue now is how best can the provincial government help,” he said.

Khawe said it was decided that a “broader application” was needed and placing the municipality under administration “will not generally change the historical and infrastructural challenges in Emfuleni”.

Last week, supporters of deputy chairperson hopeful and economic development MEC Lebogang Maile were embroiled in a tense stand-off with Makhura when he announced an investigation into tenders at Maile’s department.

Maile and Khawe, both former youth leaders, are running mates on a list that hopes to win on the youth ticket. Maile will be up against education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Johannesburg regional chairperson Parks Tau, who is believed to be Makhura’s pick. Khawe will face off against the incumbent, Hope Papo.

An unsigned resignation letter that Khawe wrote triggered the latest attack on Makhura, who is seeking the position of chairperson that was left vacant by Paul Mashatile, the ANC’s treasurer-general.

Gauteng has so far been the only ANC province ready for a conference due to a loose succession plan. However, last week, both Tau and Maile dismissed talk that they were anointed by Makhura and Mashatile, respectively. Both said that it would be ideal to find consensus on the leadership question before the conference.

Khawe echoed similar sentiments this week, saying the leadership question must be looked at to maintain the tradition of amicable contestation in Gauteng.

“I think that Gauteng for quite some time has managed to handle the leadership question quite well and ... we need not compromise that, especially post Nasrec. If you contest me and I contest you, it shouldn’t be a war,” he said.

“I stand with those who say there is no need for war talk; let’s open up and talk. Whether we like it or not, Gauteng and South Africans are getting younger and younger as a population, the ANC has to reflect the reality that the voters, the constituencies, are getting younger and therefore the younger ones in the ANC ought to be given an opportunity to lead.”

Khawe’s lobbyists, though, said Makhura made a dangerous miscalculation in Khawe’s favour this week by giving him victim status.

Khawe was coy about why he was the right man for the job, and quoted his supporters instead.

“Some say: ‘Look, this fellow has been a leader of the youth league for many years, including being a chair. We think he is at the right temperature to lead.’ Some say: ‘He has been the secretary of the Congress of SA Students, so he is not new in the position of the secretary; he can make a contribution. He has been in the unions, in the party and therefore may be the necessary glue to bring everybody together.’”

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