LIMPOPO ANC provincial deputy chairman Dickson Masemola yesterday played down widespread reports that President Jacob Zuma’s triumph could signal the end of Cassel Mathale, his provincial chairman and premier.

A beaming Masemola addressed a crowd of about 100 delegates after the ANC’s top six officials were announced.

He called for calm and for his fellow delegates to “extend an olive branch to those who were opposed to Zuma’s re-election”.

“The chairman continues in his role,” he said after one of his delegation shouted that Mathale would not see the end of his term as chairman and premier.

It is well known that Mathale associated himself with expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

Limpopo went to Mangaung with two slates: a delegation led by provincial chairman Mathale, who wanted Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma, while Masemola’s delegation nominated Zuma for re-election.

“The president has communicated a very clear and loud message – there needs to be unity in the ANC. Without such unity, the ANC will die. Zuma’s re-election is a victory for the ANC,” said Masemola.

Masemola, a non-voting delegate and provincial education MEC, said he and his provincial executive were united and welcomed changes in the ANC.

But when asked about a statement issued by his provincial executive committee in October nominating Motlanthe as president and sent to the media by his provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane, Masemola refused to comment.

“Go and speak to the office of the secretary regarding that,” he said. Zuma’s re-election was also a relief for Masemola, who found himself at the centre of the school textbooks scandal that rocked the country earlier this year.

He urged his delegation to shrug off “obvious characteristics that become the kind of values that have no place in the ANC.

“There must not be any petty matters that derail you from your cause. It is time to go back and canvass even those members who are not convinced by the victory,” Masemola said.