(File photo) President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Photo: Leon Nicholas

President Jacob Zuma wants four provincial chairmen sympathetic to him to remain in power in violation of the ANC’s constitution, while his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe has raised a lack of consistency in applying party rules.

The four chairmen – KwaZulu-Natal’s Zweli Mkhize, Eastern Cape’s Phumulo Masualle, Mpumalanga’s David Mabuza and Free State’s Ace Magashule – were summoned to Luthuli House recently regarding their double roles as provincial leaders and directly elected members of the national executive committee (NEC).

Provincial chairs are automatically ex-officio members of the NEC, the highest decision-making body between conferences.

Rule 12.8 of the ANC constitution states that “if any provincial chairman or secretary is elected into the party’s NEC or as a national official, such a person shall vacate the provincial position”.

It further provides for special extraordinary circumstances that may warrant an exception to the rule.

“However, when such a provincial officer is allowed to retain his or her NEC position, the province shall not be entitled to an additional member on the NEC,” reads the party constitution.

Ironically, Zuma was the first leader after the unbanning of the ANC to be granted the constitutional exception to serve in the NEC and provincial structure in order to contain the violence in KZN in the early 1990s.

However, The Sunday Independent understands that the matter was raised again in Luthuli House a fortnight ago and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had to summon the four chairmen to a meeting.

The four are known to support Zuma’s second term as party leader.

However, it is believed that Zuma has put his foot down, pitting himself against Motlanthe, who intends to contest him at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung in December.

In May 2010, Motlanthe publicly objected to Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane contesting Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile for the ANC provincial chairman position because she was a member of the NEC.

Attempts to force the provincial chairmen to choose between the national and provincial positions were interpreted as a strategy by those supporting Motlanthe to weaken Zuma’s campaign and support base.

Mantashe on Saturday confirmed that the matter had been raised with the ANC leadership, but questioned the timing of those – without mentioning names – objecting to the double-role practice.

Mantashe said the four leaders were elected after the ANC Polokwane conference in 2007, and the NEC accepted the motivation for them to carry on working as provincial chairmen.

He said this matter “cannot be an issue now because of the national conference”.

“We can’t interpret the ANC constitution on the basis of ambition. When we come out of Polokwane, it is good and now we are going to Mangaung, it is a major thing,” Mantashe said.

Collins Chabane, chairman of the ANC’s constitutional review sub-committee of the NEC, also confirmed that the issue had been raised.

“It was agreed that they (chairmen) do not have to relinquish their positions,” Chabane said on Saturday.

However, an NEC member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the inconsistency made it difficult for the leadership, especially the NEC, to instil discipline in the party.

“You cannot expect the NEC to rebuke lower structures while (the same NEC members) are involved in factional politics in (the same) lower structures,” the NEC member said.

He could not be named because of “the atmosphere” in the party.

However, the four affected provinces agreed with Mantashe and questioned the motive of those opposing their double roles.

Eastern Cape ANC spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane defended Masualle’s two hats. “As the Eastern Cape, we don’t have any problem with our provincial chairperson playing the dual role (in the party),” he said.

Qoboshiyane said he did not recall the province having to justify to the ANC leadership why Masualle had to occupy two positions.

Masualle refused to comment.

Qoboshiyane blamed factional battles in the ANC as the reason for the resurfacing of the matter.

“I really don’t understand this. The confusion arises when people are grounded in their factional thinking. These chairpersons have been playing a complementary role,” he said.

However, an ANC Eastern Cape provincial executive leader has fingered Motlanthe as the one who raised the matter recently.

“We are told that the meeting (where the matter was raised) was highly motivated (sic) by (Motlanthe),” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

ANC Free State spokesman William Bulwane said he was surprised that the matter was only raised four years after Magashule assumed office.

“The Free State did apply for permission for Ace Magashule to be the chairperson… four years ago,” he said.

But a disgruntled anti-Magashule Free State official said the province had not made representation justifying its chairman to occupy two positions.

“He can’t retain the chairmanship of the province when this rule is not observed. The environment in the Free State has always been dictatorial,” the official said. He also spoke on condition of anonymity because only authorised party officials were allowed to speak on the matter.

A KwaZulu-Natal ANC PEC member said Mkhize would not be the chairman and a directly elected NEC member after the Mangaung conference: ”Double parking… must be done away with.”

He claimed that there were moves to force Mkhize to relinquish one of his positions.

But ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikalala said it was opportunistic and uncalled for to raise the matter because, in the past, ANC leaders occupied dual roles and there had never been a problem.

“We have been to Polokwane and that debate has not been raised and it is not new. Why engage them now? The issue has no basis,” he said.

Zikalala said KZN made representation to the NEC about Mkhize’s dual roles and the ANC accepted their representation.

Mkhize, Mabuza and Magashule could not be reached for comment.

Another contentious issue raised was the double role of ANC deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise, who is now premier of the North West.

The constitution states that the deputy secretary-general post is a full- time position.

Mantashe said the move was “explained as an intervention to deal with the apparent and imminent crisis” in that province, which was allowed in the ANC constitution.

Sunday Independent