Mathabatha can unite the ANC
Molebatsi Masedi is a Polokwane, Limpopo based proponent of radical socio-economic transformation. Tweeter: @MolebatsiMasedi
The much awaited ANC Limpopo 9th provincial conference is set down for the weekend of 22 to 24 June, just two weeks from now. This comes after the national executive committee of the organisation conducted an audit on the province’s state of readiness for the conference.
All regions in properly constituted meetings said in one voice that they are ready for the provincial conference. Recommendations from these regional consultative meetings and branch membership statistics persuaded the national leadership to give the green light for the convention of the provincial conference.
Since the granting of permission for the provincial conference, there has been a flurry of branch general meetings to nominate delegates to conference and candidates for the provincial executive committee. The branch nominations which were to have been concluded last weekend are running until this weekend.
It is not yet clear whether a further extension will be granted to branches which fail to meet the weekend deadline. Any extension depends on whether the province reaches the 70 percent threshold of branches that have successfully conducted their general meetings.
The forthcoming ANC Limpopo provincial conference is crucial for two reasons, it offers a challenge to the unity slate of the Nasrec conference and takes place on the eve of the crucial 2019 general elections. Unity and cohesion have eluded the organisation since the 2007 rupture which saw the accelerated decline of the ANC and the loss of metros like Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay which used to be the organisations’ strongholds.
The road to the 54th ANC national conference was so rough and tough; analysts predicted the expedient demise of the organisation. Nasrec would be the death and burial of the organisation, paving the way for the opposition to emerge as the new government as the ANC was destined for the periphery to join the PAC and AZAPO in the political wilderness.
Not only did the ANC survive sudden and certain death, it emerged stronger and united from Nasrec.
Since then a lot has transpired, most importantly Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa emerged from Nasrec as ANC president to become the president of South Africa. In the first hundred days of his presidency, Ramaphosa has set the country and the ANC on a high road to the new dawn of success.
The state of the nation under Ramaphosa has thrown the gauntlet to the provinces, youth and women’s leagues, SACP, COSATU and SANCO. On the lips of many analysts is whether the alliance will live up to the unity and cohesion of Nasrec and sustain it going forward to the 2019 general elections.
For the ANC in Limpopo the moment of truth is the 9th provincial conference which sits in two weeks’ time at a venue just outside of Polokwane. What is crucial about this conference is the election of a PEC which will lead the organisation to the much hyped 2019 general elections. Whoever emerges out of the conference will not only lead the election campaign, but will also be in line to be appointed as premier of the province.
Was reported in the last week edition of the newspaper, current ANC provincial chairperson and premier Stanley Chupu Mathabatha is most likely to be returned uncontested. To date there is no other candidate than him. This is the case notwithstanding fierce competition in other positions, notably the deputy provincial secretary where it appears everyone is contesting.
The deputy chairperson is a Vhembe contest of incumbent Jerry Ndou and Vhembe district executive mayor Florence Radzilani. Secretary is a three horse race of Lehlogonolo Masoga, Soviet Lekganyane and a rather subdued Knox Seabi.
The deputy provincial secretary position sees a Moria of candidates which include incumbent, Makoma Makhurupetje. Others in the race are Seaparo Sekoati, Basikopo Makamu, Phophi Ramathuba and Onnica Moloi. For treasurer, it is a Sekhukhune affair of incumbent Danny Msiza and business mogul Tim Tibeila.
From the leadership slates doing the rounds, pre-Nasrec tensions appear to be buried with focus on the future and the forthcoming general elections. Even the nomination of delegates and candidates are going on without the usual tensions and violence. The processes have so far been smooth and peaceful.
With Mathabatha being uncontested, he has an unenviable challenge to make or break prospects for unity in the Limpopo ANC. He can choose the low road of a factional slate or the high road of an inclusive slate as at the national conference in Nasrec last year December.
If he goes the low road he and his acolytes get the mantle of leadership in the province. This route would be at a cost for the organisation and its prospects of decisive victory in 2019. Going the way of inclusivity, unity is deepened and electoral victory is certain.
Mathabatha’s high road to a united and coherent ANC in Limpopo rests in accommodating those he differed with bitterly on the way to the national conference in December last year. Political maturity and sobriety are his Hobson’s choice, the only and correct way out for the troubled organisation in Limpopo as in everywhere in the country.
The ANC in general finds itself in a precarious situation, though largely of its own making. Nasrec gave it a lifeline, a second life. With Ramaphosa at the helm of both party and country, it has been so far so good. The country has been returned to working at full capacity.
It is not in the now where the real challenges lie, it is in navigating the future where focus must be set. It is here where Mathabatha’s mantle of leadership gets to rise or to fall, and with it his legacy.
Is Mathabatha the rightful bearer of Ramaphosa’s torch of the new dawn and the Thuma-Mina volunteer movement of renewal? The answer to this challenge and the vexing question of the unity and cohesion of the ANC shall be borne by the conclusion of the provincial conference.
In its recent pronouncement the ANCYL in the province has called for the retention of all of the top five officials, bar the provincial secretary Knox Seabi whom they seek to replace by the deputy Limpopo provincial legislature speaker Lehlogonolo Masoga.
Mathabatha can therefore latch on to this proposal which advocates for continuity and renewal. Whether this comes to pass or not will be revealed when he closes the provincial conference on the afternoon of June 24.
ANC provincial chairperson and premier Stanley Chupu Mathabatha have a huge role to play since he is most likely to be re-elected as chairperson uncontested at the province’s elective conference.