NEW DIRECTION: ANC Limpopo chairman Premier Cassel Mathale wants party branches to scrutinise leadership. Picture. MOLOKO MOLOTO

 Limpopo - Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) he leads look set to be the first casualties of a post-Mangaung conference purge by President Jacob Zuma’s supporters.

At least one ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, Limpopo Arts and Culture MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, has publicly called for tough action against the PEC and suggested that Luthuli House had reason to fire Mathale as premier.

Letsatsi-Duba was speaking on Limpopo private radio station Capricorn FM’s current affairs show, hosted by Thabiso Kotane, on Monday night.

Letsatsi-Duba, Mathale’s one-time ally-turned-political rival, suggested that he had presided over a dysfunctional administration.

She accused the PEC of having abandoned the provincial nomination meeting in the run-up to the Mangaung conference in favour of supporting expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema during his court appearance for money laundering and racketeering in November.

The ANC leaders’ decision to attend the trial delayed the provincial nomination conference, which was ultimately abandoned.

She called for strong action against the PEC, saying its “unacceptable conduct” undermined ANC branches.

“On this one we will not back down, because if we leave it, the ANC will be undermined right through.

“People have taken advantage of the ANC’s kindness and they think they are bigger than the organisation. And they think they own the movement, and yet they don’t,” said Letsatsi-Duba.

She stopped short of calling for Mathale’s expulsion as premier over the province’s financial crisis, which forced Zuma to place five provincial government departments under administration in December 2010.

“In case the ANC decides (to fire Mathale), it shouldn’t be because of his different preference, maybe it would be because of certain problems, which, as the executive council, they led us to be under administration,” she said.

Speculation has been rife since the Mangaung conference that Mathale’s departure was imminent.

He and his colleagues in the PEC are seen as having promoted personal attacks against Zuma in the run-up to their failed bid to replace him with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as ANC leader.

Mathale’s provincial ANC deputy, Dickson Masemola, MP Lehlogonolo Masoga and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane have been named as possible replacements.

The premier’s fate, the mooted dissolution of the anti-Zuma Limpopo ANC leadership and the future of the ANCYL are expected to feature high on the agenda of the first post-Mangaung NEC meeting in Durban later this week.

The outcome of the meeting will influence Zuma’s annual January 8 statement in Durban on Saturday.

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The Star