ANC succession battle in Mpumalanga hots up

With Mabuza no longer in charge‚ ANC succession battle in Mpumalanga hots up.
With Mabuza no longer in charge‚ ANC succession battle in Mpumalanga hots up.
Image: PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL

Longstanding rivals of ANC deputy president David Mabuza are going in for the kill now that he is no longer in charge of the ruling party in Mpumalanga.

They slammed Mabuza’s nine-year-long iron grip over the province and plan to use his absence to gain a hold of the party and steer it in a different direction.

However‚ Musi Skosana — convenor of Mabuza rival David Dube’s campaign to become the next provincial ANC chairman — said even though Mabuza’s election as ANC number 2 gave them breathing space‚ they were wary of his extensive and still-strong network of influence in the province.

Mabuza is said to be behind efforts to engineer the election of an interim unity structure when the Mpumalanga ANC holds a special provincial general council (PGC) in April. That interim structure would govern the province until the 2019 national and provincial elections‚ after which a new leadership would be elected.

But Skosana insists that “times are changing” and that Mabuza’s departure from Mpumalanga signals potentially the beginning of new politics in the province.

He said: “You would know that in the past in Mpumalanga‚ leadership emerged out of arrangements. Well‚ times are changing but we also know that even if a person leaves‚ systems remain in place. Now that the deputy president has left the province‚ there are people who would remain behind and continue to arrange leadership outcomes.”

The interim unity structure proposed by Mabuza will see current provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu elected chairman with Speedy Mashilo — Nkangala regional chairman — as his deputy while Pat Ngomane will step in as the new provincial secretary.

This will allow Ngomane — who is widely tipped to eventually become provincial chairman — to build his political profile using the engine room of the organisation.

Deputy provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali and Treasurer Vusi Shongwe will remain in their positions.

Insiders close to Mabuza and in the provincial executive committee (PEC) said that Mabuza met with this group last week to express his desire for a negotiated leadership that would unite warring factions in the province.

Sources also said by roping in Mashilo‚ the move would hopefully pacify any potential opposition in the Nkangala and Gert Sibande regions‚ which have previously been hostile towards Mabuza.

However‚ it is also understood that this arrangement is meant to sideline Mabuza’s other fierce opponents — Fish Mahlalela and Peter Nyoni. The latter has declared his intention to run for the provincial chairmanship.

Skosana slammed the proposed unity structure as a ploy to eliminate any form of competition for Mabuza’s preferred leadership.

“Unity does not replace contestation. Contestation is part of the philosophy of the ANC. You can’t talk unity but seek exclusivity at the same time‚” he said.

It is understood that Mabuza will remain premier of Mpumalanga but that only President Jacob Zuma’s departure and his subsequent replacement by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa will necessitate a move away from the province.

However‚ if Zuma is removed and someone other than Mabuza is called in as an interim president‚ Mabuza would stay in Mpumalanga.

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