With political odds heavily stacked against him, embattled Deputy President David “DD” Mabuza on Friday thought he might be handed a bargaining chip by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to revive his ambition to seek re-election into the governing top leadership at the party’s December national conference.
However, in a strange twist of fate, Mabuza’s home province of Mpumalanga yesterday announced that it would not support him for the deputy presidency position after the provincial executive committee (PEC) resolved that it would instead support Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
Mpumalanga ANC said it had “a frank discussion” with Mabuza on leadership issues following its visit, where it apparently informed him about its leadership preferences.
Despite being snubbed by the PEC, Mabuza, who led the province for two terms before his election to the deputy president position, is said to have indicated his intention to fight on.
Mpumalanga ANC chairperson Mandla Ndlovu said Mabuza had last Friday told him that his future would be decided by branches of the ANC.
“I had a frank talk with comrade Mabuza and we were talking about succession. Comrade Mabuza said that he is waiting for branches to nominate and his is putting his destination in the hands of the branches. He said that he is not that person who would parade himself for positions. The PEC doesn’t nominate candidates as we are not in the status of branches, so we will give branches to nominate their own candidates,” said Ndlovu.
He said tomorrow they would meet with leaders of the ANC’S biggest province Kwazulu Natal to communicate why they have thrown their support behind Ramaphosa and Lamola and also engage their counterparts on the other four positions in the party’s top six leadership.
Until Friday night, several candidates had thrown their hats into the ring for the position of deputy ANC president.
Those candidates include current treasurer-general, who is also acting secretary-general, Paul Mashatile, national executive committee member and Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, as well as other hopefuls like Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane.
There has always been a belief in the party that while there was consensus on whether President Cyril Ramaphosa should serve a second term as party leader, the position of his deputy was up for grabs.
An impasse over Mashatile’s constitutional powers in the ANC is what appears to have thrown Mabuza a fighting chance to remain in the organisation’s top six leadership. This is after Ramaphosa’s supporters for the second term elbowed Mashatile from tabling a state of the organisation report at the forthcoming 55th national elective conference in December.
A state of the organisation report is crucial in that it gives an overall current state of the party since its last national conference in 2017. It is also a political and organisational account of developments of the period leading up to the conference, and an assessment of the progress made as well as challenges faced by the ANC and the country.
It was feared by Ramaphosa supporters that Mashatile could use the report to paint a grim picture of the organisation under Ramaphosa, which could have the potential to derail his chances of winning a second term.
In July, Ramaphosa’s supporters successfully thwarted two attempts to evaluate his leadership at the policy conference.
The president’s inner circle – after picking up reports that Mashatile might deliver an organisational report – won a debate that a policy conference would not take the characteristics of a national general council – a mid-term review that allows party members to evaluate the work of the NEC.
The president will, however, still go to the conference limping in the wake of the Phala Phala
scandal, electoral declines since elections in 2019, and the party’s failure to pay staff salaries, among other issues.
After toing and froing, it was decided at this week’s NEC meeting that Mabuza would deliver the organisational report in December. A source close to Mabuza said the deputy president was aware of the many campaigns that seek to oust him.
“He is not resting on his laurels,” the source said.
The lifeline handed to Mabuza came after yet another NEC meeting during which attempts to oust Mashatile as acting secretary were made. During this week’s meeting, Ramaphosa supporters used the party’s constitution as a tool, arguing that it did not make provision for a treasurer general to assume additional duties.
It is understood that Kubayi led the charge against Mashatile, saying it was unconstitutional for Mashatile to act as secretary general. Kubayi argued that the only vacancy that existed in the party’s secretariat was that of the deputy secretary, following the passing away of Jessie Duarte. She said the party’s constitution provided that only the chairperson (Gwede Mantashe) could carry additional tasks.
“Paul and team lost the battle tonight. They never expected we would fight on constitutional prescription,” an NEC member said.
However, an NEC member aligned to Mashatile said his survival of another attempt to oust him was a sign that Ramaphosa no longer had an overwhelming majority of support in the NEC. The Friday NEC meeting also decided that Mashatile would continue working in the office of the secretariat with Gwen Ramokgopa.
“Attempts to get Gwede or Gwen as acting SG have been defeated,” said the member. Gwede says he doesn’t want to go back to HQ (Luthuli House), but if tasked, it can be done,” the leader added.
It was unclear who was going to write the organisational report. Mashatile’s faction was confident that he would have an influence over the document, while Ramaphosa’s backers believed that Ramokgopa would hold sway over the report.
It also remains to be seen if Mabuza will play the role of merely being a “reader” of the report. This came as the Mpumalanga provincial executive committee endorsed Ramaphosa and Lamola to respectively become president and deputy president of the ANC in December.
– Sunday World