Mabuza could swing both ways

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Get Mabuza!

That seems to be the di­rec­tive that has been given to chief lob­by­ists in the ANC pres­i­den­tial race as they chase af­ter Mpumalanga pre­mier and pro­vin­cial chair­per­son David Mabuza. In re­cent weeks, cam­paign­ers for Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and for­mer AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have upped their bid to get Mabuza on their side. Af­ter KwaZulu-Na­tal, Mpumalanga will send the second-big­gest del­e­ga­tion to the party’s na­tional con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

Mabuza’s de­ci­sion will de­pend on which team places him in a meaningful po­si­tion when the nom­i­na­tion process opens in Septem­ber.

Ear­lier this week, the KwaZulu-Na­tal pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee trav­elled to Mbombela to meet its Mpumalanga coun­ter­parts in what was seen as an at­tempt to seal sup­port for the Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) slate. A Ramaphosa cam­paign (CR17) insider re­vealed that they too were work­ing hard to win the in­flu­en­tial leader over to their side. He claimed that, with­out Mabuza’s sup­port, Ramaphosa could al­ready count on the sup­port of 50% of branches in the province. Get­ting Mabuza on­side would guar­an­tee that Ramaphosa would of­fi­cially be the pre­ferred can­di­date of al­most the en­tire Mpumalanga del­e­ga­tion.

“That’s one area where we have a 50-50 split if the con­fer­ence were to be held to­day. But we are pur­su­ing Com­rade DD [Mabuza] be­cause he has clearly in­di­cated that he is no longer in­ter­ested in the NDZ cam­paign. He was part of the pre­mier league [along­side the Free State’s Ace Ma­gashule and North West’s Supra Mahumapelo]; he has since left them be­cause he never agreed with them on Nkosazana,” said the insider.

The insider said there were “many com­rades ap­proach­ing Mabuza, in­clud­ing his lieu­tenants”.

“We are pur­su­ing him be­cause we believe if we can have him in our fold, we would have 100% of Mpumalanga,” he said.

The race comes as bullish Ramaphosa sup­port­ers claim that they would be vic­to­ri­ous if the con­fer­ence were to be held soon. With the sup­port of the Western Cape and the North­ern Cape in the bag, the Ramaphosa camp is claim­ing the Eastern Cape as its “strong province”. They believe they have the ma­jor­ity of the province’s branches on their side, re­gard­less of the out­come of the pro­vin­cial con­fer­ences in Septem­ber.

“Even though there is con­tes­ta­tion be­tween our key lead­ers, in­clud­ing Phu­mullo [Ma­su­alle] and Os­car Mabuyane, both the camps fight­ing in the pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence are CR17. That’s why we are not root­ing for any­body there be­cause we don’t want to up­set any­one,” said a backer.

The camp has also been buoyed by the fact the Free State, which is be­lieved to be a Dlamini-Zuma strong­hold, is sharply di­vided ahead of its up­com­ing con­fer­ence at the end of Au­gust.

Ma­gashule is fac­ing a chal­lenge from deputy pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Thabo Many­oni and for­mer pro­vin­cial trea­surer Mx­olisi Duk­wana. Both chal­lengers are be­hind Ramaphosa in the na­tional con­test, so they’re try­ing to bro­ker a truce be­tween them.

“We can’t af­ford to di­vide our own vote be­tween the two,” said a se­nior insider. “We must find a way of min­imis­ing this con­tes­ta­tion in the Free State.”

Ramaphosa’s cam­paign­ers are hoping that the group­ing that is chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of the KwaZulu-Na­tal lead­er­ship struc­ture would suc­ceed in its court case, due to be heard in a few weeks.

“There is ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity that the com­rades who are con­test­ing that pro­vin­cial elec­tion are go­ing to win. In the ma­jor­ity of cases, many of them were hu­mil­i­ated, re­moved from gov­ern­ment un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously and, in their view, also un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally. There­fore, they would like to cor­rect all those wrongs in KwaZulu-Na­tal,” said the Ramaphosa lob­by­ist.

How­ever, the cam­paign is yet to fi­nalise its slate and faces a chal­lenge. Some of its struc­tures have pro­posed that a woman, most likely Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu, deputise Ramaphosa. For­mer KwaZulu-Na­tal pre­mier Senzo Mchunu’s name has been linked to the sec­re­tary-gen­eral po­si­tion and cur­rent sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe to that of na­tional chair­per­son. Gaut­eng’s Paul Mashatile is be­ing touted as the pre­ferred can­di­date for trea­surer-gen­eral.

In the mean­time, the Ramaphosa ma­chin­ery is closely mon­i­tor­ing the branch au­dit process to en­sure that there are no “sur­prises”. There is con­cern about au­dit­ing and how this may scup­per the con­fer­ence if not prop­erly ad­dressed. The source re­vealed where they had stum­bled across “is­sues” through their struc­tures and raised th­ese with the au­dit­ing teams.

“As and when the au­dit is be­ing un­der­taken, our own com­rades are rais­ing what­ever is­sues they are not com­fort­able with. As we speak now we are com­fort­able that those that are re­spon­si­ble for this process, where red flags have been raised, they’ve at­tended to th­ese mat­ters.”

DAVID MABUZA

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