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Johannesburg - Plans to oust Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile from his position at the provincial general council to be held next month have fallen flat.
The Sunday Independent understands that a faction opposed to Mashatile and his provincial leadership had planned to pass a motion of no confidence in him when the PGC takes place on November 30, but even his staunch opponents have admitted that such a move would be political suicide.
Mashatile has not enjoyed a rosy relationship with the ANC leadership that emerged from its national conference in Mangaung last year, but enjoys significant support in the province, as opposed to nationally.
His opponents are now rather focusing on mobilising support for his removal at the party’s provincial conference next year, where they will field a candidate to contest his leadership position.
The ANC’s national executive committee has ordered Gauteng to reconvene the PGC after the one held in July was nullified on the basis that branch general meetings had not been held.
A senior Gauteng leader opposed to Mashatile said any motion of no confidence passed at the PGC would fail, and those championing it would be running a major risk, especially as the list process to nominate candidates for Parliament and the provincial legislatures is under way.
“It would be political suicide. When it fails, whoever tabled and supported it would be nowhere in the lists, and nowhere in positions from provincial to municipal level.
“It would simply be too risky and putting a lot at stake. Comrades can be emotional sometimes,” he said.
He admitted that the best chance to wage any offensive against the current leadership would be at the provincial conference next year.
Another leader sympathetic to Mashatile and the provincial leadership said the Gauteng leader had survived storms before.
“Their plans have always been there, even before Mangaung. They couldn’t get us disbanded, and now they were going to try and use the PGC,” he said.
The leader, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said that, although some in the Mashatile camp were unhappy about the decision to re-run the PGC, they are complying to avoid disbandment.
“Luthuli House is not helping by asking for a PGC in the middle of an election. We would have wanted everybody to focus on elections. But we couldn’t say no, because they would have said we are defiant and disband us. They want to remove us and install their stooges. They are not going to succeed,” he said.
The leader added that Mashatile remained popular in the branches of Gauteng.
The Sunday Independent understands that there are moves to lure NEC member Obed Bapela to contest Mashatile for the position of chairman.
Bapela’s name already appears high on the pro-Zuma faction list of candidates to be nominated for the National Assembly and Provincial Legislature as the list process continues around the province’s branches.
Mashatile’s leadership has also been accused of deliberately avoiding the use of Zuma’s face on campaign T-shirts, although it has denied these claims.
ANC spokesman in Gauteng Nkenke Kekana refused to comment on both the plans to oust Mashatile and the allegations about snubbing Zuma with the printing of the T-shirts. “We don't want to comment about faceless people,” he said.
As the face of the party’s election campaign, Zuma appears on the campaign T-shirts of various ANC provincial structures, but apparently not on the T-shirts printed by the Gauteng ANC.
This could not be independently verified.
Several sources in the province have claimed that the alleged omission of the ANC president’s face from the Gauteng T-shirt was a deliberate attempt to undermine Zuma and the party’s national leadership.
At the launch of its volunteer programme in May, the party allegedly printed T-shirts with only an ANC logo, instead of those bearing Zuma’s face.
According to the member, the same was apparently done when Gauteng hosted its PGC, which was later nullified.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said allegations that the ANC in Gauteng was snubbing Zuma through T-shirts were mischievous.
He said Luthuli House was responsible for printing T-shirts for the election campaign for all provinces.