Nyoni’s suspension clears the path for Mabuza’s third-term bid
The suspension this week of Mpumalanga ANC executive committee member Peter Nyoni has been interpreted as a pre-emptive strike to derail mounting opposition to Premier David Mabuza’s leadership.
Nyoni was instrumental in mobilising disgruntled comrades to allegedly sabotage Mabuza’s ambition to retain his position as Mpumalanga ANC chairperson for a third term in a conference scheduled for October, as well as curb his ascension to national ANC deputy president in 2017.
Nyoni was one of the people who planned a march to the provincial ANC headquarters in Nelspruit on Friday. The provincial executive committee (PEC) learnt about the planned march during its special meeting on Monday, and decided to suspend Nyoni.
The march saw 2 000 disgruntled members converging at the January “Che” Masilela Building, but the office was closed and no provincial ANC leader came out to accept the memorandum. Mpumalanga ANC secretary Lucky Ndinisa said the marchers would face disciplinary action.
City Press understands that Nyoni’s downfall was precipitated by an audio recording that a member allegedly made during a planning meeting of disgruntled ANC branches that Nyoni addressed at Clau-Clau, outside Mbombela, last Saturday.
The person who allegedly made the recording at the meeting is said to have recently returned to the ANC from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). He allegedly handed the audio recording to members of Mabuza’s camp.
An insider said Ehlanzeni regional chairperson Ngrayi Ngwenya alerted the PEC meeting about Nyoni’s involvement with the Save Mpumalanga ANC group’s march and he was then asked to recuse himself from the meeting before being suspended. Ndinisa confirmed that the PEC received the recording, but declined to give more details. “In fact, that [the recording] is what we have, but I would not want to talk about the merits of the matter.”
He insisted that ANC members should raise grievances within the structures.
“They cannot march against the ANC … That’s unacceptable. The ANC has a culture for robust debate and contestation for positions,” Ndinisa said. Nyoni declined to comment, saying: “Go and ask those who suspended me.”
Nyoni’s suspension may have been in the works for a while. In January 2013, the PEC appointed a task team, led by ANC national executive committee member Dikeledi Magadzi, to probe servicedelivery protests that escalated ahead of the party’s manifesto launch and rally that was held at Mbombela Stadium on January 8 that year.
The protests were viewed as an attempt by the disgruntled branches to draw President Jacob Zuma’s attention to the rifts within the ANC in Mpumalanga.
Those who were summoned to testify before the task team were Nyoni, former health MEC Clifford Mkasi and former Ehlanzeni district council speaker Milton Morema. The trio had a fallout with Mabuza and were accused of fanning the flames of instability in branches. Ndinisa said the task team had not tabled its report. “But Nyoni’s suspension has nothing to do with the work of the task team. The team has not given us its findings and we believe that once they have satisfied themselves, they will report to us. As you know, ANC processes move slowly,” he said.
Nyoni was also one of the human settlements department officials, including former head David Dube, who Mabuza removed late in 2013 after accusing them of spending their time in politics instead of delivering RDP houses.
Dube – Mabuza’s deputy in the party and deputy legislature speaker – will challenge the premier for the chairmanship in October. Nyoni will run alongside Dube as his deputy.
Mabuza is believed to be throwing his weight behind Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to lead the ANC Women’s League in exchange for the league’s support in his ambition to be the ANC’s national deputy president.
Mabuza is also supporting the province’s youth league chairperson, Desmond Moela, to take over as the league’s deputy president to rally the young lions behind his campaign.