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Despite initially seeming to be on the back foot, Mabuyane’s victory in Eastern Cape seen as a boost for Ramaphosa

Oscar Mabuyane and Babalo Madikizela at the ANC Eastern Cape 9th Provincial conference at East London Convention Centre- Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Oscar Mabuyane and Babalo Madikizela at the ANC Eastern Cape 9th Provincial conference at East London Convention Centre- Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Published May 10, 2022

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Durban - The re-election of Oscar Mabuyane as the provincial chairperson of the ANC in the Eastern Cape on Monday dented the chances of the radical economic transformation (RET) faction dethroning President Cyril Ramaphosa when the ANC elects new leaders in December.

Despite appearing to have been on the back foot, Mabuyane defeated Babalo Madikizela for the position by garnering 812 votes while his competitor got 662 – a margin of 150 votes.

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Mabuyane’s reputation is tainted after the public protector found he had benefited from money meant for the memorial service of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

It was alleged that one of the service providers later funded a refurbishment of his house using the illegal proceeds. But Mabuyane has taken the report to the Bhisho High Court, asking it to be set aside as it wrongly implicated him. The court has yet to rule on the matter.

Immediately after Mabuyane’s victory, some Ramaphosa supporters who are already lobbying for him to get a second term declared that it was game over for the RET faction that has been a thorn in Mabuyane’s side for years.

Before the conference the Madikizela faction was confident of victory, but in the end Mabuyane won together with his entire slate. Mlungisi Mvoko was elected as his deputy, Lulama Ngcukayitobi as provincial secretary, Helen Sauls August as deputy provincial secretary and Zolile Williams as provincial treasurer after defeating Andile Lungisa.

Speaking for the first time after he was re-elected, Mabuyane said it had been a tough race even though he eventually won. “It has been challenging, we have gone through some litmus tests.

“The ANC is a very complex organisation, you simply need patience, tolerance, and you will then appreciate it.

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“It does not need leaders who are always prepared to throw tantrums. You must learn to be calm in the ANC.”

Mabuyane added that the ANC needed renewal.

“We are here to make sure that the ANC is moving forward, we have said this.

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“Nasrec was a Damascus moment, the ANC must renew, continue with that renewal.

“Delegates have actually affirmed our view that we are on the right track as a province, with the contribution we are making here as well as nationally.”

Providing context for the victory, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu of the University of the Western Cape, said all the signs were that the RET faction was losing steam after some of its leaders, like Ace Mgashule, were forced to step aside pending legal challenges.

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However, Mngomezulu warned that it was too early for the Ramaphosa faction to start celebrating, as a day is a long time in politics.

“At least for now all the signs show that the Ramaphosa faction will win. However, something may happen on the road to the conference and change everything. Right now the RET faction appears to be on the back foot,” Mngomezulu said.

Mngomezulu added that in the wake of this victory, unity would remain a pipe dream as Mabuyane’s supporters would probably demand the removal of Madikizela, who is the MEC for public works in the province.

“The unity he spoke about is not possible at this point. The people who backed Mabuyane will want to see changes, they supported him because they wanted something in return, and that means some people will have to give way.”

Another political analyst, Makhosini Mgitywa, said Mabuyane scored the victory because he enjoyed being the incumbent premier and provincial chairperson, which gave him unfettered access to resources.

He added that the victory was a boost for Ramaphosa.

He said that it was easy for people to support Mabuyane, because when he made promises people believed him as he was already in power, unlike his competitor.

“Even if Madikizela won, the removal of Mabuyane from office would have not been immediate. If the ANC elections were to be held today, Ramaphosa would win,” he said.

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