LEADERSHIP BATTLE looms for premier

HARDLY a year into her job as leader of South Africa's economic hub, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane faces the risk of being reduced to a lame duck premier if the ANC moves its provincial elective conference to May.

The Gauteng ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) meets for a two-day meeting on January 23 and 24 to discuss proposals to bring forward the elective conference originally scheduled for November.

Party provincial spokesperson Dumisani Ntuli said they wanted to hold the conference before the World Cup soccer tournament.

He said the other reason was that "the coming national general council of the ANC, which discusses policy, is going to be very important for us as we are making a lot of policy proposals".

Provincial secretary David Makhura has confirmed Gauteng would propose a reconfiguration of municipalities in the province.

The proposals include expanding current metropolitan municipalities - Joburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane - to cover the entire province to ensure every municipal area was able to generate revenue.

The fast-tracking of the elective conference also means an early showdown between three rival camps led by ANC provincial chairperson and former premier Paul Mashatile; ANC Women's League president Angie Motshekga and Mokonyane.

Party insiders said the Motshekga camp planned to punt Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka for the position of provincial ANC chairperson with Panyaza Lesufi as his deputy.

Mashatile supporters, with the backing of Gauteng ANC Youth League, are still irked by President Jacob Zuma's decision to appoint Mokonyane as premier instead of Mashatile. They have vowed for a political comeback for Mashatile.

A Mashatile supporter in the PEC told Sowetan that the deputy minister of arts enjoyed more support "from cadres who were impressed by his discipline" when he was demoted to a deputy minister position.

Yesterday, the party rejected suggestions that an early conference would increase divisions in the province.

Ntuli also denied that Mashatile's position as provincial chairperson and Mokonyane's position as premier created two centres of power in the province .