Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha’s future hangs in the balance

Limpopo ANC chairperson Stan Mathabatha. Picture: File

Limpopo ANC chairperson Stan Mathabatha. Picture: File

Published Jan 31, 2023


Pretoria - Limpopo Premier and ANC provincial chairperson Stan Mathabatha’s future continues to hang in the balance following his U-turn on the eve of the election of a new president at the party’s 55th conference at Nasrec in December last year.

Mathabatha is under fire from his party for the last-minute decision to support former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize instead of the initial decision to back President Cyril Ramaphosa, who emerged victorious for the position of president.

Mathabatha also unsuccessfully contested the position of chairperson, challenging Gwede Mantashe, who was duly re-elected. Ramaphosa was re-elected president after receiving 2  476 votes. Mkhize managed to score 1  897 votes.

It is believed that Mathabatha’s rationale for the last-minute change of heart was when he discovered that Ramaphosa had no interest in supporting him for the position of chairperson in favour of Mantashe.

Pretoria News can reveal that despite the provincial executive committee (PEC) defending Mathabatha, promising to keep him until next year’s elections, most senior members and branches want him gone after Nasrec.

It is believed that the situation is so tense that the PEC can’t confirm if he will be delivering the ANC provincial January 8 statement, which is traditionally read by the chairperson, in this case Mathabatha.

The provincial January 8 celebrations are expected to take place in every province following the national anniversary of the party that was addressed by Ramaphosa a few weeks ago.

However, speaking to Pretoria News yesterday, PEC spokesperson Jimmy Machaka could not confirm what date the Limpopo leg of the celebrations would be. He also could not confirm if Mathabatha would be addressing the celebrations, saying that the PEC was still to meet to “deal with the matter”.

“Be advised that there is no decision as to where and when the Limpopo ANC January 8 will take place. At this stage it is unknown who will deliver the ANC NEC January 8 statement in Limpopo. It will be dependent on who the secretary-general, Reuben Madadzhe, deploys in the province.”

He insisted that the PEC was still in support of Mathabatha post-Nasrec.

“I am not sure if there are those who want the premier out; however, even if they are saying that they must wait for the 2024 elections where a new premier will be installed. They should also wait for the next provincial conference. At this stage it is not necessary to remove the ANC provincial chairperson and the premier,” said Machaka.

Office of the Premier spokesperson Ndavhe Ramakuela referred questions to Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Willy Mosoma, who had not responded to questions sent by text by the time of going to print. He also did not respond to phone calls made to his cellphone.

However, Pretoria News can also reveal that senior members of the party want him gone, saying that he has divided the province and had gone weak, which in turn made the party weak.

This has got to the point where a great deal of jostling for his position of premier has already begun.

According to an insider who is an official in the party but not allowed to speak to the media, branches wanted Mathabatha out and preferred other candidates.

“Everybody wants him out. I’ve yet to meet anyone who says he must stay,” said the source.

They said on the list of those mentioned were Polokwane mayor John Mpe, who seemed to be on the fence on the decision for Mathabatha to change allegiance at Nasrec.

Another one mentioned was Mopani mayor Pule Shayi, who is a known critic of Mathabatha.

Another candidate is the PEC’s deputy chairperson, Florence Radzilani, who led the support for Mathabatha at Nasrec, but she is under a cloud, having been implicated in the multibillion VBS scandal.

Pretoria News