‘Premier League’ lobby group wielded a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence in the choice of a new leader for the ANC Women’s League

CityPress - - Front Page - SETUMO STONE and HLENGIWE NH­LA­BATHI news@city­

T he race to de­cide the ANC lead­er­ship in 2017 got un­der way this week­end when a lobby group led by some ANC pro­vin­cial chair­per­sons claimed its first na­tional vic­tory on Fri­day af­ter So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini was elected as the new pres­i­dent of the ANC Women’s League. She ob­tained 1 537 votes to Mot­shekga’s 1 081.

Lead­ing fig­ures of the group, known in­for­mally as the “Premier League”, in­clude Free State Premier Ace Ma­gashule, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Dlamini’s elec­tion is a step for­ward in the Premier League’s am­bi­tions to in­flu­ence the ANC’s suc­ces­sion race in 2017 and de­ter­mine the suc­ces­sor to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

In terms of ANC tra­di­tion, it is ex­pected that Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa will suc­ceed Zuma.

How­ever, Dlamini ran on a cam­paign ticket that a fe­male can­di­date, prefer­ably African Union Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or ANC chair­per­son Baleka Mbete, should suc­ceed Zuma.

Dlamini had sup­port from KwaZulu-Natal and Lim­popo, and her vic­tory sig­nalled the Premier League’s in­flu­ence.

Although the women’s league does not take a mas­sive del­e­ga­tion to the ANC elec­tive con­fer­ence, the fact that women con­sti­tute 60% of the ANC’s mem­ber­ship means they are a cru­cial and in­flu­en­tial block.

On Thurs­day, Mot­shekga lashed out at the in­volve­ment of men in the women’s league lead­er­ship race.

Mot­shekga said women’s league struc­tures were be­ing “abused” by men “to serve their own self­ish in­ter­ests”. She did not men­tion names.

How­ever, on Fri­day in a closed con­fer­ence ple­nary ses­sion, Mot­shekga’s sup­port­ers men­tioned Ma­gashule, Mabuza and Mahumapelo as the hid­den hands be­hind Dlamini’s cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to del­e­gates sym­pa­thetic to the new pres­i­dent.

Last month dis­grun­tled branches of the ANC Women’s League in Mpumalanga had been ex­pected to write to ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe to protest against the al­leged in­ter­fer­ence in the league’s nom­i­na­tion pro­cesses.

City Press heard that most of the Mpumalanga branches of the women’s league had ini­tially nom­i­nated Mot­shekga. How­ever, on May 10, the pro­vin­cial gen­eral coun­cil chose Dlamini as the pre­ferred pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

Ac­cord­ing to in­de­pen­dent sources, the change in the choice of can­di­date hap­pened on the day of a meet­ing be­tween ANC lead­ers in Mpumalanga’s Eh­lanzeni re­gion and re­gional sec­re­taries of the women’s league.

The meet­ing al­legedly heard there was a po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tive from Mabuza that Dlamini be nom­i­nated be­cause she was pre­ferred by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

At the gen­eral coun­cil, only 29 out of the more than 100 branches voted for Mot­shekga.

On Fri­day, Mpumalanga ANC spokesper­son Sibu­siso Themba would not com­ment on the al­le­ga­tions against Mabuza. He re­ferred ques­tions to the women’s league in the province, say­ing: “The mat­ter is about them [and] they have a com­plete struc­ture.”

Mpumalanga women’s league sec­re­tary Ly­dia Moroena said yesterday the or­gan­i­sa­tion was “au­ton­o­mous and took de­ci­sions on its own”. Moroena said the province “could not run with some­one who is los­ing”.

“We were wise enough to see that we can­not run with a loser,” she said. Moroena said the de­ci­sion to back Dlamini had also been in­flu­enced by lob­by­ists from other prov­inces.

Two del­e­gates of the North West women’s league also de­nied Mahumapelo's in­volve­ment in their prepa­ra­tions for the na­tional con­fer­ence.

Mahumapelo said yesterday it was not the first time the al­le­ga­tions of interfering with the women’s league were made against him. He said it had also hap­pened dur­ing his term as ANC sec­re­tary in North West in 2010.

“The ANC in North West has a good re­la­tion­ship with the league. We also worked well with [Mot­shekga],” he said, adding that he had last met her dur­ing a “fruit­ful” meet­ing in Rusten­burg in April.

Mahumapelo said he was at the women’s league con­fer­ence for a short time on Thurs­day, but had been in Gaut­eng for fam­ily rea­sons.

He said Dlamini was the con­vener of ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­ploy­ees in North West and they both shared a con­stituency of­fice in Rusten­burg.

“There is noth­ing wrong with pre­miers of the ANC meet­ing and shar­ing ideas just like min­is­ters would also do when they meet,” he said.

Ma­gashule said the de­ci­sion of the women’s league in Free State was taken by its pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in con­sul­ta­tion with the branches. “The ANC did not get in­volved,” he said. Ma­gashule said his re­la­tion­ship with Mabuza and Mahumapelo started on the ba­sis of the three prov­inces they lead be­ing the ma­jor sup­pli­ers of maize to the coun­try. He said he had no po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions to serve at na­tional level. “I am fine where I am,” he said.

City Press was alerted to the al­le­ga­tions that the pre­mium price for a vot­ing del­e­gate at the women’s league was a sin­gle blan­ket, track­suits, air­time and R4 000 in cash.

Ap­proached for com­ment, se­nior lead­ers of the league would not com­ment on these al­le­ga­tions. In­stead, del­e­gates were later given a tongue-lash­ing dur­ing a ple­nary meet­ing for com­mu­ni­cat­ing the closed-ses­sion pro­ceed­ings with peo­ple out­side the con­fer­ence.

David Mabuza

Ace Ma­gashule

Supra Mahumapelo

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