Johannesburg - Gauteng Education MEC and ANC provincial executive committee member Barbara Creecy has emerged as the likely compromise candidate to be suggested by the ruling party as premier.
This follows growing uncertainty around the future of Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile, who looks likely to be snubbed for the premiership position for the second time during President Jacob Zuma’s presidency, and incumbent Nomvula Mokonyane still on the radar to return for a second term after the elections in May.
Zuma was scheduled to embark on a door-to-door campaign with Mashatile in Soweto during the last voter registration weekend two weeks ago, but his visit was unexpectedly cancelled on the morning of the event.
The Sunday Independent understands Mashatile met Zuma the day before a scheduled door-to-door campaign in Dobsonville, Meadowlands and Diepkloof, Soweto.
The official explanation was that Zuma was double-booked for other events in Kwazulu-Natal, but it remains unclear how the double-booking was not picked up until the morning of the event and after the president had met Mashatile the previous day.
The party’s campaign schedule for the day appeared to have fallen into disarray, with Mokonyane being the only ANC heavyweight at the event in Dobsonville.
The Sunday Independent understands Creecy received significant votes during the provincial list conference in November, resulting in her name being submitted with those of Mashatile and provincial secretary David Makhura.
The ANC constitution requires the provincial structure to submit three names to the NEC for consideration for deployment as a premier.
Gauteng ANC spokesman Dumisa Ntuli said the province will only submit names for the premier candidate to the NEC after the elections.
Ntuli refused to confirm the status of the Gauteng list, or where its various leaders stood on the list.
“That process is at NEC level. Remember that we have gone to our provincial list conference and then we went to the national list conference. We are done with that process and it is now being dealt with at a national level,” said Ntuli.
The ANC held its national list conference in January, consolidating its provincial lists and finalising the list of candidates to be sent to Parliament after the elections.
A source close to the Gauteng leadership said Creecy could be appealing to both factions in the province and is likely to be favoured as premier.
Gauteng has remained a highly factional province for many years, with an apparent minority of its membership not favouring the current leadership.
“Primarily, Creecy is in the Mashatile faction but she also received significant support from the opposing faction. From the three names, she is the one likely to be accepted by the current ANC leadership ahead of Paul and Makhura. It seems she would be a candidate both factions will be comfortable with,” said one ANC leader in the province.
But another provincial leader was rather dismissive of the assertions that Creecy would emerge as the likely premier candidate, saying Mokonyane was likely to return.
“The truth is that Creecy is high up the list to cover the faction that wants Paul and David as premier, and that is unlikely to happen because they are all in one faction which is not trusted by the leadership. They want to use her name if the question of gender balance arises.
“These are the same people who believed, and campaigned, that the current leadership of the ANC including Jacob Zuma and the other leaders in the top six are not suitable to lead this organisation, and their view has not changed.
“How do you then entrust them to effectively lead the economic hub of the country when they do not believe in the leadership of the country?” asked the leader.
He said there was hardly any chance that Mashatile would return as a cabinet minister despite not being fired during the last cabinet reshuffle.
“Gauteng is still against the leadership of the ANC. It has not changed and they will be dealt with,” he said.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said the party would not release the list of candidates until the Independent Electoral Commission issued a deadline.
“It is the IEC which must first issue a deadline for all the political parties contesting the elections to submit its lists of candidate. Only then will you guys know who is where on the list,” said Khoza.
Mashatile was overlooked for the position in 2009 despite being the leading candidate for the province. Zuma appointed current premier Mokonyane even though Mashatile was the preferred choice for the majority of Gauteng branches and leadership.
He is known to be out of favour with the president after leading an unsuccessful campaign against Zuma’s re-election for a second term at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung and failed in his attempt to become the ANC’s treasurer-general.
Mashatile is expected to run for the chairmanship of the ANC in Gauteng when the party goes to its provincial conference later this year.