Eastern Cape leadership contest hots up
The ANC’s Eastern Cape chairpersonship contest was set to be a two-horse race between incumbent Premier Phumulo Masualle and provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane – until a third party emerged this week to spoil the fun.
Masualle, who is also the chairperson of the ANC in the province, was being challenged by Mabuyane, who is seen as representing new blood. But the decision by Nceba Faku, the former mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, to throw his name into the hat has made things even more interesting following an emergence of a separate list of contestants for the top provincial positions. This could see the provincial executive committee completely changed if members voted for it. Faku confirmed to City Press on Wednesday that he would contest the position of chairperson of the province, with Phila Nkayi as deputy chair, Noncedo Zonke as secretary, Nosiphiwo Williams-Sirwayi as deputy secretary and Mkhuseli Mancotywa as treasurer. “We don’t want to only change leadership. We want to bring back the values and traditions of the ANC. That is the change we want in the ANC. I think these people are fresh and not bound by the system. They will look at things with fresh eyes,” Faku said of his leadership team. The Dr WB Rubusana region (formerly known as Buffalo City), which is in charge of the only ANC-run metro in the province, wants the status quo to remain and is supporting Masualle to continue as the chair.
“The campaign for Masualle to return as chairperson is strong on the ground because most regions have not really pronounced on Mabuyane, and other regions still have to go to regional conferences. It’s a bloc of structures that are vocal on the name of Mabuyane. The premier has also recently admitted publicly that he was available for a third term,” said a source sympathetic to Masualle.
Meanwhile, the OR Tambo region, the biggest region in the Eastern Cape, wants Mabuyane as chairperson and wants to send Masualle back to national politics as a national executive committee (NEC) member. A source within the OR Tambo regional structure said that, at a meeting on February 3, the regional executive committee resolved to support Mabuyane’s bid as chairperson, while Lulama Ngcukayithobi, who is that region’s secretary, would take over from him as provincial secretary.
“We have unanimously resolved to support Mabuyane as chairperson and Ngcukayithobi as our incoming provincial secretary. I can confirm that the regional executive committee that sat on Friday agreed on Mabuyane. There is a resolution,” said one source, who asked not to be named because he does not have the authority to speak for the region.
He said the region expected Mabuyane to take the province towards “CR17” – a campaign slogan linked to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in the upcoming ANC national conference, where Ramaphosa will be up against President Jacob Zuma’s former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“We are changing the slate. We don’t want the status quo. We have resolved to take Masualle to the NEC. He is part of our package going to the national conference. We are not going to desert him,” said another source with close links to the OR Tambo region.
The region also agreed that Masualle could remain as the premier, even if he loses his seat as chairperson, as the appointing of premiers was the prerogative of the president. Masualle was one of the first people to denounce the Premier League (Mpumalanga, North West and Free State), which is linked to Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign. A source said the province did not know where he stood at the moment. “He is treading carefully and does not want to show his cards too early. That has always been a problem with bra [Masualle], he does not move quickly enough,” said another source. Meanwhile, Eastern Cape regional newspaper Daily Dispatch reported early this week that senior leaders of the province’s SA Communist Party are said to have thrown their weight behind Mabuyane because they were disappointed in the leadership of Masualle, the party’s former national treasurer.
INCUMBENT Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle
CHALLENGER Former mayor Nceba Faku