Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma’s trusted ally in Limpopo, deputy ANC chairman Dickson Masemola, has been excluded from the 20-member provincial executive committee (PEC) delegation to Mangaung.
The shock decision to marginalise Masemola, who has broken ranks with the Limpopo ANC led by Premier Cassel Mathale, was taken at a PEC meeting in Polokwane on Monday.
The province took a resolution long ago to support Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at next month’s Mangaung conference.
The meeting, overseen by an independent agency, lasted less than 30 minutes, according to PEC members. Other sidelined PEC members included Roads and Transport MEC Pitsi Moloto and Raymond Maake.
Zuma’s lobbyists have dismissed the decision as factional. They urged Wednesday’s provincial general council meeting in Polokwane to nominate ANC leaders for Mangaung to overturn it.
Limpopo ANC spokesman Makonde Mathivha has confirmed Masemola’s exclusion from the PEC delegation, describing the decision as “democracy in progress”.
“It was a very democratic process and everyone had the right to choose. The results were such that the deputy chairperson of the province was not among the 20 who will be representing the PEC at the conference,” said Makonde.
Masemola declined to comment, but a PEC member close to him said the decision to exclude the education MEC was first caucused before Monday’s meeting.
“They decided they will vote, knowing that they want to exclude him. It was clear that they are targeting him because he is a known Zuma man,” said the source.
Sources said the anti-Masemola proposal was made by provincial ANC Youth League (ANCYL) chairman Rudzani Ludere.
This has led to Zuma supporters in the province accusing former ANCYL president Julius Malema of having orchestrated the move.
A Limpopo ANC leader sympathetic to Masemola claimed Malema was behind the decision because “it is clear that is his strategy”.
In an exclusive interview with The Star on Tuesday, Malema dismissed the claim he was behind Masemola’s downfall as the fabrication of “paranoid” people. He said Masemola and other Zuma supporters had made him their “cheap political scapegoat”.
“Masemola goes to the meeting, he doesn’t get elected. I don’t know who got elected and all of that. Now, again, it is Julius. They are seeing ghosts under their beds.
“The way they are so scared of Julius Malema, that is the only [imaginable thing] they can think of. That ‘no, we lost because of Julius’. I am not a member of the ANC. I am not in those meetings,” an angry Malema said.
He said that Masemola and his supporters blamed him for their electoral loss because they could not explain to their masters how they had lost the nominations when they told Zuma caucus meetings that they were in charge of branches in Limpopo.
“It is very difficult to go back to the master and tell the master that we have lost. What do they do?, ‘Julius this, Nyulias that’. No, that is very cheap man.
“I do not know why their masters accept such explanations, because they should be saying ‘how can you be defeated by an outsider when you are in charge?’. Democratic processes cannot be predetermined,” Malema added.
Mathivha defended Masemola’s exclusion, saying those who claimed the decision was factional were themselves “factional because, without knowing the process that was followed, already they are judgmental”.