Durban - Former minister of communications Dina Pule, who was fired in 2013, returned to prominence when she was elected deputy secretary-general at the weekend’s ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) conference.
Pule was a high-ranking minister, but a parliamentary probe found she lied to Parliament and had abused her position as minister after using her office to improperly benefit her boyfriend.
When then-president Jacob Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet, Pule was dropped and has kept a low profile.
However Pule’s name made it on to the ballot on Saturday night after it was raised by delegates from the floor.
Sisisi Tolashe, from the Eastern Cape, who is also Deputy Minister in the Presidency, was elected Women’s League president with other leadership positions being filled by deputy president Lungi Gcabashe, secretarygeneral Nokuthula Nqaba and treasurergeneral Maqueen Letsoha-Mathae.
An ANC insider said once Pule was nominated from the floor and placed on the ballot delegates then agreed to vote for Tolashe and not former ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Thembeka Mchunu, had been seen as a favourite to emerge as Women’s League president but this changed during Saturday’s voting process. Mchunu is the wife of Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu.
The source said Pule’s nomination was down to the “view and will of the branches”, but many felt Mchunu had a strong chance to become president.
“There is a feeling this was a strategic plan to deal with KZN even though Mchunu and Tolashe were in the same camp. Mchunu had massive support, but this changed during the conference. There was a suggestion that (ANC President Cyril) Ramaphosa was backing Mchunu and that secretary-general Fikile Mbalula was backing Tolashe, and that is a fascinating dynamic,” the source said.
Political analyst Dr Fikile Vilakazi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal said Pule’s appointment to the top structure of the ANCWL was seen as balancing out factionalism in the party.
“This was a way of saying that this is not a clean slate that sided with
Tolashe. Pule was nominated from the floor and even though there is factionalism, this is how people negotiate the power they have with their votes.”
Vilakazi said the dominant slate at the conference did not want it to appear they were promoting factionalism. She said while Mchunu had appeared to be the preferred presidential candidate before the conference, branches had shown their preference for Tolashe.
“The North West did not participate in the conference because of allegations of fake registrations and some regions in KZN were also affected by this. This may have had an impact on Mchunu,” said Vilakazi.
Another analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe, said the election of leadership of ANCWL, Youth and Veterans Leagues did not make much of a difference to the governing party as they were not the most powerful or influential of the party’s decision-making bodies.
“The National Executive Committee (NEC) is heavily consolidated with those who support Ramaphosa, at more than 60%, and it is this body that will ultimately determine what happens in the ANC.”
Seepe said the party was consolidating power and similar events had taken place during the presidency of Thabo Mbeki and Zuma.
“People gravitate towards the person who holds the key to power and material benefit.
“The leagues should be focused on the serious deterioration of the economy, infrastructure collapse and the handing over of state-owned enterprises to the private sector, but this is not happening,” Seepe said.