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Mbeki looks to be ahead in Limpopo's leadership fight

By unknown | Mar 09, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

A silent revolution is unfolding in Limpopo as the ANC succession battle rages on.

Though most supporters have not come out hoisting their flags, Thabo Mbeki's camp is making inroads in challenging the much- publicised campaign by Jacob Zuma for the ANC presidency.

Recent developments show that unlike in Eastern Cape, where Mbeki's supporters have publicly come out, serious groundwork is being done in Limpopo to ensure that Mbeki gets a third term as ANC president.

KwaZulu-Natal and the ANC Youth League have already stated publicly that they are behind Zuma.

The battleground has now shifted to Limpopo. ANC insiders say the Mbeki camp achieved a major political coup last month when it took over the leadership of Mopani - a region previously known as a Zuma stronghold in the province.

Of the 20 positions contested as part of the regional leadership, 13 are said to be taken by Mbeki loyalists, including the chairman and the secretary.

The new chairman is Humphrey Mokgobi and the secretary is Thebathe Mohlala. Both are known to be loyal to premier Sello Moloto, a known Mbeki supporter.

Mopani includes areas such as Tzaneen, Duiwelskloof and what is commonly known as the Lowveld.

A conference held in the Capricorn region last year, apparently attended by Mbeki, saw individuals known as Zuma loyalists being beaten to the throne by pro-Mbeki candidates.

These include current Polokwane executive mayor Thabo Makunyane and Soviet Lekganyane, who were contesting the positions of chairman and secretary respectively.

The new regional chairman is Chuene Malebana, a known Moloto loyalist. The new regional secretary is Matlakgolo Mphahlele, another known Moloto and Mbeki supporter.

The Capricorn region includes areas such as Polokwane, Seshego, Mankweng, Dikgale, Moletjie and Senwabarwana GaMatlala.

In the Waterberg region, which is premier Moloto's home ground, Mokopane executive mayor Pinkie Kekana, a known Zuma supporter, apparently withdrew from the regional leadership race.

The new Waterberg regional chairman and secretary are Godfrey Molekwa and Eric Gwangwa respectively. Both are also known to be in the Mbeki camp.

The Waterberg region includes areas such as Mokopane, Mahwelereng, Nylstroom, Bela-Bela, Thabazimbi and Lephalale - former Ellisras.

The new Vhembe chairman, Philemon Mdaka, and secretary, Paul Manganye, are known to be in the Mbeki camp. Manganye was recently appointed provincial government spokesman by Moloto.

The Vhembe region includes areas such as Thohoyandou, Musina and Malamulele.

Sekhukhune is said to remain one region where Zuma has massive support.

The regional chairman is Dickson Masemola and the secretary is David Magabe. Both are known to be pro-Zuma.

The Sekhukhune region includes areas such as Jane Furse, Burgersfort, Grobblersdal and Marble Hall.

"Mathematically it means that out of five regions Zuma has one. This translates to 80 percent of the province being pro-Mbeki and only 20 percent pro-Zuma," said an ANC insider.

He said the only "noise" about the perceived Zuma support came from the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League, "whose leaders have lost while trying to contest for ANC leadership positions in the province".

As Limpopo chairman, Moloto has cautiously poured cold water over reports that Mbeki has gained support in the province.

"The decision taken at the provincial national conference and the provincial general council was that we believe in the collective leadership of the ANC and will not favour any individual over the other.

"Anyone who claims that the regions have come out in support of a particular individual is speaking for himself," said Moloto.

He said it was the responsibility of the branches to nominate candidates when the process was officially declared open by the ANC national leadership.

Western Cape is another province that has not come out in declaring its loyalties, but provincial chairman James Ngculu is understood to be working hard to garner support for Mbeki.

Ngculu is an ANC MP and also heads the portfolio committee on health in parliament.


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