Defence Minister Thandi Modise frontrunner to replace ANC deputy president David Mabuza
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Mashudu Sadike and Sibusiso Mboto
Pretoria - Defence Minister Thandi Modise has emerged as a frontrunner for the position of ANC deputy president in a CR22 slate released by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters before the governing party’s elective national conference next year.
Modise, who is the former Speaker of the National Assembly, replaces out of favour Deputy President David “DD” Mabuza, who has been dumped from the Top Six alongside ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy, Jessie Duarte.
According to the new line-up of the CR22 faction leaked to Independent Media yesterday, Ramaphosa, ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile will retain their positions after next year’s conference, should the group emerge.
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu will replace Magashule as ANC secretary-general, with the party’s general manager Febe Potgieter-Qubule replacing Duarte as deputy secretary-general. Mchunu was Ramaphosa’s candidate for the position of secretary-general at the 2017 Nasrec conference, but lost to Magashule by a handful of votes.
Sources familiar with behind-the-scenes developments within Ramaphosa’s camp said Modise got the nod ahead of former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka because she proved her loyalty to the president during her tenure as parliamentary Speaker. They added that her appointment as defence minister after the July unrest, apparently with the support of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, was part of the wider plan to promote her to the second highest office in the land.
“I am going to send you their list. Remember, I said that Pravin wanted Thandi as deputy?” said one of the sources.
When asked whether Ramaphosa was aware of the list, his spokesperson, Tyron Seale, referred questions to ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe, saying he only spoke for the president on government matters.
He said: “ I don’t deal with ANC matters. I only speak for the country’s president.”
Mabe lambasted the people behind the list, saying their motive was to deepen divisions within the ANC. “The ANC has not even issued guidelines to structures about the 2022 national conference. Those behind these tendencies seem to be motivated by the desire to deepen divisions. We just came from local government elections where our performance showed serious decline owing to a number of factors,” Mabe said.
“Our focus now is on self-introspection and the true renewal of our organisation. Only a stronger ANC that displays maximum unity and is focused on resolving the challenges confronting our people will be able to consolidate and regain public confidence.
“Those who carry the ambition to occupy leadership positions in the ANC must wait for the right time. Over the years and through our successive conferences it has been apparent that slates in their very nature are divisive. We therefore urge our members to refrain from such practices and to conduct themselves as disciplined cadres and submit to the directives given by the organisation.”
Responding to a request for the interview, Mchunu indicated that he was in a meeting and could not tell how long it would last. His spokesperson Kamogelo Mogitsi said the minister had another ANC sub-committee meeting which was likely to drag well into the night.
Modise, Potgieter-Qubule, Mashatile, Mantashe and Gordhan could not be reached for comment.
According to the slate, candidates for the national executive committee (NEC) positions include Ramaphosa’s right-hand man Bejani Chauke, Fikile Mbalula, Zizi Kodwa, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Thembi Siweya, Berry Swart, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Joe Phaahla, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, Mxolisi Dukwana, Bheki Cele, Ronald Lamola, Sihle Zikalala, Zamani Saul, David Makhura, Sisi Ntombela, Oscar Mabuyane, Noncebo Mhaule, Hlomani Chauke, Buti Manamela and Soviet Lekganyane.
Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, Lekganyane, who is the Limpopo ANC secretary, said nobody had contacted or lobbied him to stand for the position of an ANC NEC member.
“I’m dismissing this because there is no one who has spoken to me about this. We still have to have regional and provincial conferences before we go national. It’s still very early and anyone who would say that they will be standing will only be representing their interests, and not those of the ANC. Any person talking about the national conference now doesn’t know what they are talking about. It’s too early to stand up and say you are available now,” Lekganyane said.
ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal from both the Radical Economic Transformation(RET) and Rebuild, Renew and Unite (RRU) groupings said they were aware of the lists circulating, but stressed that there had been no concrete discussions on the top six positions.
“The issue of the SG started being part of informal discussions when Magashule was placed on suspension and has been a consistent discussion point although this has been at informal gatherings,” said one ANC member from RRU grouping which is aligned to Ramaphosa.
Another member from the grouping confirmed knowledge of the list and said its circulation was an indication that the campaign was gaining some momentum. “It (the elective conference) may seem far away but the fact of the matter is that it is less than 12 months away and if there is no effort to galvanise support then the campaign dies before it has started. It is official that the lobbying season has begun,” said a Ramaphosa supporter.
A member of the RET grouping, which is opposed to Ramaphosa, said it was difficult to determine the authenticity of the lists.
“What we have seen is that different names have emerged in the past varying from Lindiwe Sisulu, Ace Magashule and Zweli Mkhize. At a glance they appear to be the means to test the political waters to determine which of the names are warmly received on the ground, but there is nothing concrete that has come from the list”.
He added that it would be very difficult for any of Ramaphosa’s opponents to mount a campaign because of the Covid-19 restrictions that were inhibiting free movement which was essential during campaigning.
“There are fears that if a comrade raises their hand and shows an interest for political office they are slapped with charges, so people are quite weary now,” said an ANC member.