Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid for re-election as ANC leader next year has suffered a serious blow after his supporters lost most regional conferences in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape over the past few days.
This comes after candidates opposed to Ramaphosa’s CR22 bid – who are known as the radical economic transformation (RET) group and are sympathetic to former president Jacob Zuma – swept to power in Vhembe and Sekhukhune in Limpopo, Greater KwaDukuza in Kwazulu-Natal as well as Alfred Nzo, Amathole and Joe Gqabi in the Eastern Cape.
However, CR22 forces retained the OR Tambo region, which is the stronghold of Eastern Cape ANC chairperson and premier Oscar Mabuyane, a key ally of Ramaphosa.
“In Limpopo we are winning all the regions, every one of them. The two – Vhembe and Sekhukhune – we won, as you know. In the Eastern Cape we lost OR Tambo, which we expected because it’s the stronghold of Oscar Mabuyane. We won Alfred Nzo, all five officials there; Joe Gqabi, we won all the officials. The additionals were a mixed bag, but we have the majority, Amathole region, which is our region, we won a clean sweep, Nelson Mandela Bay region is a mixed bag. The chair is in-between but the regional secretary is ours,” said a senior ANC leader aligned to the RET group.
At the 8th ANC Vhembe regional conference, which took place at Kalahari Lodge near Nandoni Dam, outside Thohoyandou, Tshitereke Matibe beat current Vhembe District mayor Dowelani Nenguda by 204 to 174 votes for the position of chairperson. Advocate Mokonde Mathivha defeated Vhembe ANC Secretary Advocate Anderson Mudunungu for the position of regional deputy secretary by 203 to 175 votes.
Former Limpopo ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Rudzani Ludere was elected regional secretary after defeating Percy Mashimbye by 201 to 177 votes. Moses Maluleke retained his position as deputy regional secretary while Mihloti Muhluphe was elected as regional treasurer.
Speaking to Pretoria News after his re-election, Matibe said even though they did not support Ramaphosa at the Nasrec conference, the president had their backing as the incumbent ANC leader.
“Sure, every party has its political dynamics, but here we support our president. What we must look at now is what we were mandated by the conference. We need to work on the 23 branches that must still be in good standing because we need to prepare for the provincial congress. We need to focus on uniting the region and not have permanent factions,” said Matibe.
The RET group also took over the Sekhukhune region when former Elias Motsoaledi municipality mayor Julia Mathebe defeated Ramaphosa ally and Sekhukhune District executive mayor Stan Ramaila to become regional chairperson on Thursday. Minah Buhula got in as deputy chairperson, Mathophe Tala as regional secretary, Given Moimane as deputy secretary and Eddie Maila as treasurer.
Mathebe was in charge of the Elias Motsoaledi municipality when it invested R190 million in the now collapsed VBS mutual bank.
Mathebe said they would support Ramaphosa “as disciplined members of the ANC”.
“Cde President Matamela Ramaphosa is our president. He has been elected in the Nasrec Conference by the majority of ANC branches across the country.”
Regions such as Moses Mabhida and eThekwini in Kwazulu-Natal, Peter Mokaba and Waterburg in Limpopo, as well as Chris Hani in the Eastern Cape, were expected to hold their regional conferences between yesterday (Sunday) and early next year.
The ANC in Limpopo congratulated the newly elected Vhembe and Sekhukhune regional leadership, but warned against divisions in the governing party.
Spokesperson Donald Selamolela said: “The ANC in Limpopo is of the view that divergent views and leadership preferences towards conferences must not be allowed to divide the movement. These conferences should be a measure to gauge and demonstrate how democracy is entrenched in the organisation, and not to engulf it.”
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said that the ANC was more than likely to see its members revolting against Ramaphosa before next year’s national elective conference.
Seepe said: “There is no doubt that Ramaphosa failed in the mandate he had received from Nasrec. The development in these regions is reflective of what is happening on the ground.”
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale said he could not comment on Seepe’s assertion that the president would need money to win re-election because he was on leave. ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe failed to respond to a request for comment.