ZUMA'S BIG LIMPOPO PROBLEM
THE names of two senior Limpopo ANC women are being bandied about as possible replacements for Premier Stan Mathabatha.
Party insiders told Sunday World that President Jacob Zuma would appoint Limpopo’s first woman premier when he announces his cabinet next week.
Four senior ANC officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Zuma had identified Thembi Nwendamutswu, the party’s provincial treasurer, and Makoma Makhurupetje, the deputy provincial secretary, as Mathabatha’s possible replacements.
Zuma is under pressure to implement the party’s 50/50 gender policy when appointing premiers of the eight provinces won by the ANC in the general elections.
A senior party official confirmed that Nwendamutswu has emerged as Zuma’s favourite, but said her chances of ascending to the powerful position were in doubt because she failed to make it to the list of the three candidates nominated by the provincial executive committee (PEC) on Wednesday.
The committee nominated provincial chairman Mathabatha, his deputy, Jerry Ndou, and Makhurupetje.
The official also said Nwendamutswu was, according to the list circulated among party members, excluded from Mathabatha s cabinet of provincial ministers if he retained his position.
The list, which Sunday World has seen, does not have Nwendamutswu s name. But its authenticity has not been verified.
The official said that although it was Zuma’s prerogative to appoint premiers, it would be difficult for him to pick someone who wasn’t on the recommended list because this would divide the organisation.
Stan is No 1 on the list and it is clear that the PEC wants him to retain his position because Makoma is not yet ready to lead the province.
It was a strategic move by the PEC not to include Thembi in the list, said the official.
Another official said that if Zuma did not retain Mathabatha, he would be forced to deploy him to parliament.
Stan cannot be an MEC as that would be akin to demotion,” said the official.
Another official said Zuma was unlikely to appoint Nwendamutswu because that would create ructions in the province.
The province has always shied away from two centres of power because this has proven to be divisive. If Zuma appoints her, Nwendamutswu would lead government while Mathabatha would lead the organisation.
And knowing her, she would not want to be reduced to a lame duck premier. She is very independent and would not want Stan to micromanage her or dictate how she should run government. The same can be said about Makoma,” said the official.
Nwendamutswu downplayed suggestions that she might take over from Mathabatha.
The president has not approached me about that,” she said.
Neither Makhurupetje nor Mathabatha could be reached for comment.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the spokeswoman for the ANC in Limpopo, could neither confirm nor deny that the trio had been nominated for the premiership position.
It is the prerogative of the president to appoint premiers. But there is no substance to allegations that there is division over Thembi because Stan and Thembi were elected uncontested during the elective conference.”
Ntshavheni dismissed claims that Zuma is considering Nwendamutswu and Makhurupetje as possible replacements for Mathabatha.
The process to submit names has not even started so that can’t be valid or true.”
The president will be sworn in in Pretoria on Saturday.
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