Pretoria - Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has confirmed that he is seeking a third term as provincial ANC chairperson amid rumours by some activists that he had withdrawn his nomination acceptance.
He has also claimed that there was no beef between him and Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure MEC Dickson Masemola, who declared last month that he would be contesting the same position at the party’s 10th provincial elective conference in June.
Mathabatha was speaking exclusively to the Pretoria News at the corridors of the Limpopo United Business Forum event where he was the keynote speaker in Polokwane yesterday.
Mathabatha is seeking re-election after he assumed the position uncontested in 2018.
He is backed by the Peter Mokaba Region in Capricorn, which is the most influential in the province led by Polokwane mayor John Mpe.
Masemola got the nod from the Norman Mashabane Region in Mopani, the biggest in the province in terms of numbers.
Sekhukhune Region, where both candidates come from, is still divided as who to support for the top position. Vhembe and Waterberg regions are also yet to decide where they throw their weight. Mathabatha said his branch, Jantjie Kabini (Ward 31) at Ellias Motsoaledi Municipality in Sekhukhune had nominated him and he had accepted.
He said: “I’m definitely standing. Comrades in that branch nominated me and I have accepted that nomination.
“I don’t know what other branches have nominated me. But I know for sure that my branch has nominated me and I accept the nomination and I will be standing,” said Mathabatha.
Masemola was education MEC during former premier Cassel Mathale’s tenure but was thrown into the political wilderness when the province was put under administration in 2013.
Mathabatha appointed Masemola as transport and community safety MEC in 2018 after he was elected unopposed as party provincial chairperson and later premier. He was later redeployed to his current portfolio.
When Mathabatha was asked how he felt about being challenged by someone close to him, he said: “There is no feud. Don't think that there would be a beef between Dickson and I because he is contesting me. No!
“I am not challenging anyone for the moment. I'm standing for the position of the leadership of the ANC in this province. As to who is contesting, I don't think it should be an issue because it’s normal within the ANC that when you stand for elections you will contest with whoever. It may be your prodigy, it may be someone who mentored you, it doesn’t matter for as long as the branches are nominating those people.”
In his slate, Mathabatha has embattled former Vhembe mayor Florence Radzilani as his deputy. Radzilani was fired as mayor because she was implicated in a VBS forensic report where municipal and individual funds were lost due to maladministration.
In the same slate, VBS accused Danny Msiza, who has since stepped aside, is nominated by the Peter Mokaba Region as provincial secretary. Co-operative Governance and Traditional affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu retains his position as deputy secretary and Nakedi Sibanda-Kekana takes over as treasurer.
Masemola’s slate has the current Mopani District mayor Pule Shayi as his deputy while current provincial ANC secretary Soviet Lekganyane is seeking re-election in the same line-up.
Lesser known members from the Vhembe District, Livhuwani Legaraba and Faith Chauke, are contesting the positions of deputy secretary and treasurer respectively.
Last week, closing off the Mpumalanga provincial conference, President Cyril Ramaphosa took issue with the election of ANC leaders who are facing criminal charges, saying such endorsements by delegates undermined the governing party’s renewal project.
He was reacting to the election of Mandla Msibi as provincial treasurer.
Msibi has also stepped aside from party activities because he is facing charges of a double murder and attempted murder after a shooting incident at Mbmbela in August last year.
Responding to a question from the Pretoria News as to how he felt to have an official (Msiza) who had stepped aside in his slate, Mathabatha replied: “I don’t think that the president should be angry about these matters despite the fact that he was showing his displeasure to the Mpumalanga conference. That is the president’s view.
“The most important thing is that the 54th national conference took this resolution that if somebody has serious allegations or he is charged for corruption, that person must step aside.
“We must remember conference is the highest decision-making body. If the conference takes that decision all of us must abide because we believe in what is called democratic centralism.
“There is no way that any leader of the ANC would say they don’t support the step-aside resolution because that is the resolution of the ANC,” Mathabatha said.