David MabuzaPicture: Dumisani Sibeko/African News Agency (ANA)
In an effort to avoid a dirty succession battle, the ANC in Mpumalanga is going ahead with its project that will see the election of an interim unity structure when the the party holds a special provincial general council in April.

The interim structure would govern the province until the 2019 national and provincial elections, after which a new leadership would be elected.

The interim unity structure reportedly proposed by Premier David Mabuza, who has since been elected ANC deputy president, will see current provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu elected provincial chairman, with Speedy Mashilo, Nkangala regional chairman who is also MEC for human settlements, as his deputy, while Pat Ngomane will vacate his position as the provincial safety and security MEC and step in as the new ANC provincial secretary.

Treasurer Vusi Shongwe and deputy provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali will remain in their positions.

A source close to Mabuza who preferred to remain anonymous told The Sunday Independent that the proposed interim leadership structure would give Ngomane time to consolidate his popularity within branches and eventually become provincial chairman.

The source said Mabuza would prefer to be succeeded by Ngomane whom he not only trusted, but saw as someone who had the attributes to unify the ANC in Mpumalanga.

This was echoed by a provincial executive committee member who also asked to remain anonymous.

“Comrade Pat epitomises a selflessness, sadly, a rare quality amongst ANC cadres, most of whom are these days preoccupied with wealth accumulation rather than serving the people who elected them into positions of power," the member said.

"Comrade Pat is, however, still committed to the ANC values and principles of humility and a selfless dedication to bettering the lives of the people of this country.

"Nothing demonstrates this more than his agreeing to relinquish his position of MEC with its lucrative perks and VIP protection for a full-time position of ANC provincial secretary.”

The proposed leadership structure is widely supported by ANC structures in the province, among them the provincial general council.

“In the spirit of unity we say let’s push harder and support these comrades for the benefit of the glorious movement of the people of South Africa,” said the council in a statement.

“The above comrades are tried and tested and they have led in the different structures of the organisation, hence they are not banking on public relations activities to gain popularity.”

The proposed structure also enjoys the support of several youth league structures in the province.

Mswati Nkosi, ANC Youth League Nkangala regional chairperson said: “Our position is that for unity and organisational renewal to happen, we have to lobby all branches to support the proposed provincial leadership.

“The three comrades have what it takes to deliver on this mandate," Nkosi said.

"These three comrades together with the whole provincial general council will push the unity project of the ANC in the province from the branches to the all other structures of the organisation.

“We are calling on any comrade who is contemplating contesting against the proposed three comrades to reconsider their decision and support these three comrades.”

While not mentioning names, Nkosi was indirectly sending a message to Mabuza’s fierce opponents such as Fish Mahlalela and Peter Nyoni, both of whom harbour ambitions to succeed Mabuza.

Nyoni, who has publicly declared his intention to run for the provincial chairmanship, was among the top provincial human settlements department executives Mabuza removed in 2013 for saying the reason they did not deliver RDP houses was that their focus was on politics.

In 2015, Nyoni was suspended from the provincial executive committee after he was accused of being the mastermind behind the march against Mabuza by the so-called Save ANC Mpumalanga, a group that accused Mabuza of being a dictator.

Nyoni and the group openly challenged the leadership of Mabuza, alleging lack of transparency and accountability coupled with nepotism and corruption.

Nkosi said Ngomane had been a regional secretary of the ANC in the province.

“He fully understands the organisational administration and discipline of the ANC. With his serving as the provincial secretary, the ANC in Mpumalanga has the potential to topple KwaZulu-Natal as the ANC’s biggest province."

KwaZulu-Natal sent the biggest delegation, 870 members, to the ANC 54th national conference last December when Cyril Ramaphosa was elected the party’s new president.

Nkosi said that with Ngomane in charge as party provincial secretary the ANC would unite and grow.

“We are confident he has the passion and dedication that will help him deliver on the mandate of making Mpumalanga the biggest ANC province.

"With him and comrades Speedy and Mandla, we are confident they will be able to unite the ANC and all its structures in the province.”

Nkosi concluded: “We are not giving them a blank cheque, though. We are expecting the three comrades to deliver on our demand for 40% representation of young people in the provincial executive committee and the provincial legislature.

“We also expect them to unconditionally rally behind the new ANC national executive committee that was elected at our conference in Nasrec."

Sunday Independent