factions gang up against premier

BACKERS of Gauteng ANC chairperson and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile have struck a deal with a faction led by ANC Women's League president Angie Motshekga in a bid to frustrate Premier Nomvula Mokonyane's political ambitions.

Mokonyane, who is ANC deputy chairperson in Gauteng, is contesting the position of provincial chairperson with Mashatile. For Mokonyane, becoming the chairperson will deal with the current situation of two-centres of power - with her being the head of government and Mashatile head of the party.

But Mashatile's supporters, including the ANCYL in Gauteng, prefer the current situation - where Mashatile continues to wield political power as the party's head.

They also aspire for a situation where Mashatile could reclaim his crown as premier. These supporters were never happy with President Jacob Zuma's decision to remove Mashatile as premier and appointing him deputy minister of arts and culture. The decision was seen as a move by Zuma to alienate Mashatile from his powerbase.

However, Mashatile has been accused by some ANC members of being too powerful and practically running the province even during former premier Mbhazima Shilowa's tenure. He has also been accused of lining up business opportunities for his cronies.

Sowetan has learnt that Mashatile's backers have joined forces with the Motshekga faction, which is lobbying for Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa to be appointed deputy chairperson and Panyaza Lesufi provincial secretary.

This has brought closer the possibility of Mokonyane being relegated to a lame-duck premier if she is defeated at the provincial elective conference next month.

The proposed list for Mashatile backers is Mashatile (chairperson), Mkhatshwa (deputy chairperson), Lesufi (secretary), Ayanda Dlodlo (deputy secretary) and Alina Rantsolase (treasurer).

Mokonyane is said to have also lost the support of her region, the West Rand, which has nominated Mashatile.