President Jacob Zuma and outgoing Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

Johannesburg - Nomvula Mokonyane’s reign as Gauteng premier has ended after five years at the helm.

She was one of the three premiers not retained by the ANC on Monday. The others are Thandi Modise of North West and Noxolo Kiviet of the Eastern Cape.

The Star has reliably learnt that provincial chairman David Makhura will replace Mokonyane.

Makhura emerged as the preferred premier elect after a marathon meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) that lasted until late Monday night.

His appointment was expected to be announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. The Star understands his name will be read along with David Mabuza of Mpumalanga, Stan Mathabatha of Limpopo, Senzo Mchunu of KwaZulu-Natal, Ace Magashule of Free State and Sylvia Lucas of the Northern Cape, who have all been retained.

Makhura was among the three names submitted by the ANC Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC) last Friday. He was nominated along with Education MEC Barbara Creecy and Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe.

Nkomfe withdrew his name from the top three list, paving the way for Human Settlements and Co-operative Governance MEC Ntombi Mekgwe to be included on the list.

The PEC had its wish granted on Monday night when Makhura was appointed as the premier.

Sources said the NEC had insisted on Mekgwe being the premier elect, citing the need to uphold the party’s gender equity policy. But this was said to have been met with fierce resistance by the Gauteng ANC PEC on Tuesday morning and the NEC obliged, albeit grudgingly.

Makhura now has the unenviable task of uniting a largely divided province and leading it to the 2016 local government elections in the face of tough competition from the DA and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.

Gauteng received 53.92 percent of the vote in the recent elections, a 10 percent drop when compared with the election results of 2009.

Makhura’s appointment comes in the wake of a growing chasm in the Gauteng ANC as the fallout over the party’s poor electoral showing sinks in.

The Gauteng ANC has been dogged by divisions pitting a faction hostile to President Jacob Zuma against his sympathisers.

This growing sense of disagreement has become more apparent in the premier nominations.

On Monday, a group of disgruntled ANC members from the West Rand and Tshwane regions descended on the party’s Luthuli House headquarters calling for the disbandment of the PEC as punishment for the party losing support in the poll.

The protest seemed to be timed to put pressure on the party’s national leadership since it coincided with the NEC’s gathering in Pretoria for the meeting to decide the names of the premiers in the eight provinces it governs. The group accused the PEC of “unconstitutional and factional behaviour” by undermining Zuma’s integrity.

Posters read: “The weakest link must be disbanded immediately”; “They are a bunch of useless (losers)”; and “Disband the 53 percent PEC”.

Mokonyane was nominated to the national assembly list but declined, fuelling speculation that Zuma wanted her to continue as Gauteng premier.

She and the president enjoy a cordial relationship.

It was unclear on Tuesday morning where Mokonyane would be deployed. The only woman premier is Lucas.

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The Star