he troubles plaguing the ANC in Limpopo worsened this week when legislature speaker Merriam Ramadwa defied the provincial leadership and refused to hand in her resignation to secretary Knocks Seabi after the party made the decision to recall her.
Her defiance comes amid several other battles that the party in the province is fighting, including with its youth league structure, and with a growing lack of confidence in chairperson Stanley Mathabatha.
The decision to remove Ramadwa was communicated at “a poorly attended” ANC caucus meeting, which was called by Seabi and Mathabatha this week.
Seabi said they were busy with the implementation of the ANC’s decision and, because a speaker is elected by members of the legislature, they were talking to ANC deployees to ensure that they were all present when the time came to vote for a new speaker.
According to people close to the speaker, Ramadwa is convinced that the decision to recall her was unjust and motivated by factional differences. Ramadwa declined to comment. Among her sympathisers is the ANC Youth League, which has questioned the timing of the decision, citing the looming municipal elections.
The ANC also acknowledges some of the real challenges it may be faced with. The fear of losing local government elections, as well as the threat of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the DA, are listed as some of the issues in a draft document, titled ANC Limpopo Communication Strategy, which was leaked earlier this week.
Although the party has denied ownership of the document, City Press understands that a senior government official in Mathabatha’s office was asked to come up with a communication strategy following the recent negative publicity.
The document was sent out for input, but got leaked – apparently by some indifferent provincial executive committee members.
Concerns around declining memberships and alleged cracks within the provincial executive committee and regions are also listed in the same document. The Sunday Independent recently reported that ANC membership in Limpopo had gone down from “161 000 to 72 000 members since December 2012”. Among its weakness, it is cited in the document that Mathabatha has not addressed a party political rally since he was elected as chairperson early last year. Mathabatha has been criticised for being a weak leader, for being unable to steer the ship and for allowing the ANC to get weaker under his leadership amid the re-emergence of factions.
In other developments, some provincial executive committee members have confirmed that the party this week moved to address concerns around the “poor communications desk” at the provincial office of the ANC.
In a bid to improve communications, the branch was considering removing provincial executive committee member Khumbudzo Ntshavheni as the party’s spokesperson.
She is set to be replaced with BelaBela municipal manager Andrew Dipela.
When asked about this, Ntshavheni said that some people wanted her gone and that there was some lobbying for her removal. But she said she remained the party’s spokesperson.
Seabi has dismissed any suggestions that there was any hostility between the ANC leadership and the youth league.
“We are okay. We work together and support them in their programmes. They also attend meetings and contribute as expected.”