Mabuza turns on the CHARM

Mpumalanga premier is cam­paign­ing to clinch the deputy presidency come De­cem­ber by woo­ing de­fec­tors to re­turn to the fold

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has em­barked on a charm of­fen­sive by mend­ing fences with all purged and dis­grun­tled com­rades in a move to boost his na­tional of­fice am­bi­tions. Mabuza has been re­call­ing all com­rades to the ANC fold in what is seen as a strat­egy to con­test for the ANC deputy presidency po­si­tion in De­cem­ber with Mpumalanga united and be­hind him.

An in­sider in Mabuza’s cam­paign said this strat­egy would por­tray Mpumalanga in a good light and its premier in an even bet­ter one – as a leader able to unite the strife-torn ANC and, in so do­ing, set­ting a good ex­am­ple for other prov­inces to fol­low. The prov­ince in­tends to go to the De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence as a bloc and will then skim off del­e­gates from di­vided prov­inces.

The in­sider said: “Un­like other prov­inces with three or even five fac­tions, Mpumalanga is en­sur­ing that it does not have fac­tions within its struc­tures.”

Mabuza has, in the past, dealt with op­po­si­tion from com­rades by forc­ing some to de­fect to other par­ties, form splin­ter par­ties or even team up with ri­val fac­tions in prov­inces other than Mpumalanga to frus­trate his am­bi­tions.

How­ever, he has since changed his strat­egy and man­aged to dis­solve a dis­grun­tled group, the Save Mpumalanga ANC, which was call­ing for him to re­lin­quish both his ti­tles: premier and pro­vin­cial chair.

The group had ques­tioned his lead­er­ship style and ac­cused him of hav­ing rigged con­fer­ences and en­trenched pa­tron­age in ANC branches and gov­ern­ment.

At a fundrais­ing din­ner on Jan­uary 29, Mabuza in­tro­duced Ron­ald Lamola, the for­mer deputy pres­i­dent of the ANC Youth League, as one of the mem­bers with whom he had rec­on­ciled. Lamola was Mabuza’s spokesper­son, but they fell out when he wanted to con­test Collen Maine for the youth league presidency.

“As Mpumalanga, we feel that we are sta­ble un­der th­ese dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances con­fronting our or­gan­i­sa­tion,” said Mabuza.

“We forge unity in our ranks and do it prac­ti­cally. We had a father-to-son talk with Ron­ald and agreed he must come back home.”

Lamola told City Press he was happy to par­tic­i­pate in his home branch again.

“What con­vinced me to agree to this process is that the chair­per­son [Mabuza] has been speak­ing con­sis­tently about unity and deal­ing with is­sues of gate­keep­ing. It was an in­di­ca­tion that there was some gen­uine at­tempt,” he said.

“I felt that we needed to give it a chance and put the mat­ter to the test.”

Mabuza has also rec­on­ciled with the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) – in par­tic­u­lar, with pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Bon­akele Ma­juba. He held hands with Ma­juba and other lead­ers from the tri­par­tite al­liance when he spoke to mem­bers at Mbombela Sta­dium on Jan­uary 29.

Ten­sions had been so pal­pa­ble that the ANC sab­o­taged SACP ac­tiv­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, at a 2015 lec­ture hon­our­ing the late com­mu­nist stal­wart Joe Slovo, vi­o­lence was sparked be­tween sup­port­ers of both par­ties.

Ma­juba said: “We wel­come [Mabuza’s] ini­tia­tive, but it should not be just a rhetor­i­cal state­ment. It should also not be about do­ing it for one’s ben­e­fit.”

At­tempts were also on­go­ing to fa­cil­i­tate a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween Mabuza and for­mer Mpumalanga premier Mathews Phosa. Mabuza filed a R10 mil­lion law­suit against Phosa in the Pre­to­ria High Court for al­legedly dis­tribut­ing a doc­u­ment claim­ing he was an apartheid spy. The case is still pend­ing.

Last week­end, Mabuza spoke about unity at the fu­neral of Letta Shongwe, chair­per­son of the Mpumalanga ANC Women’s League. He in­vited for­mer pro­vin­cial ANC deputy chair David Dube to rec­on­cile with him.

“I learnt about unity from Com­rade Letta. When we fought, Com­rade Dube [used to] hide be­hind her. Now that she is no longer here, we have no choice but to unite,” Mabuza said.

As things stand, Mabuza be­lieves that all Mpumalanga ANC re­gions, the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee and the youth league, es­pe­cially its pres­i­dent, Maine, are back­ing him for the deputy presidency post.

We had a father-to-son talk with Ron­ald and agreed he must come back home

MEND­ING FENCES David Mabuza

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