ANC chairmanship battle hots up

Sowetan Reporter

As the leadership race hots up ahead of this weekend's ANC provincial conference in Mpumalanga, the big question is who between David Mabuza and Lassy Chiwayo supporters will emerge victorious?

ANC members from both the Mabuza and Chiwayo camps are keeping their fingers crossed for their favorite candidates to walk away with the chairmanship crown during the 10th provincial conference at Nelspruit's Lowveld Showgrounds from Friday until Sunday.

Political analyst Zweli Ncube foresees a neck-and-neck race between the two candidates.

"Anyone who tries to predict this one might just get it wrong," Ncube says.

His worry is the issue of block or camp voting which, as at the Polokwane conference, could lead to the losing camp being completely be removed from power and having to wait for five years before making a political comeback.

"To avoid this the ANC could at an early stage have compromised by uniting both camps." he says.

"This would have allowed a preferred chairman of one camp to lead the party and the other deputising him."

David "DD" Mabuza, current MEC for the department of agriculture, has received warm support from the provincial ANC Youth League, Cosatu and some war veterans.

While Mabuza has been very quiet about his nomination, Chiwayo, who is the mayor of the Mbombela municipality, has lately been talking openly about himself in what many see as an effort to woo more support.

Ncube feels that the fact that Mabuza sat in the NEC could work against him.

He thinks Chiwayo's campaign has gained momentum.

Ncube said the different camp, which were threatening to further fragment the already fragile unity even at the party's national office, were unhealthy for the organisation.

It is understood that ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and MEC for roads and transport in Mpumalanga Jackson Mthembu are in favour of Chiwayo. This despite the fact that both political bigwigs sit with Mabuza in the same NEC structure at Luthuli House.

But one thing is certain, the battle between Mabuza and Chiwayo is not along the lines of the Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki camps, but is being fought on local dynamics.

This makes Mpumalanga unique from other provinces, where the ANC structures tend to be divided between Zuma and Mbeki.