A last-ditch effort to swing the Limpopo conference towards Dickson Masemola’s faction was thwarted by the provincial executive committee (PEC) during its late-night meeting on Thursday.
The Mail & Guardian understands that PEC members favouring Masemola fought long and hard to have the Waterberg region, the province’s smallest, hold its conference at the 11th hour.
Instead, PEC took a decision to convert the Waterberg regional leadership, dominated by outgoing chairperson Stan Mathabatha, into a task team. It was also decided that the Waterberg region would only sit for its conference next week.
Allies of Masemola believed that the region, with close to 130 branches, could help him and provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane change the complexion of the conference.
While the current Waterberg regional leadership is understood to be supporting Mathabatha, those in Masemola’s faction believe that they have support in the branches.
Those close to the Masemola faction believe that they have already done enough to take a considerable number of votes from Mathabatha in the Vhembe region.
Vhembe is the second-largest region after the Norman Mashabane region. While Danny Msiza, outgoing provincial treasurer, and Florence Radzilani — a former Vhembe mayor hoping to be reelected as deputy chairperson — are convinced that they have control of the region, those in Masemola’s faction believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s support might help swing some votes.
But Radzilani and Msiza having been implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal, which saw taxpayers fleeced of more than R2-billion.
Msiza is facing charges of fraud and corruption related to the VBS scandal. He has had to step aside in accordance with the ANC’s new rules. This meant Mzisa could no longer contest Lekganyane for the position of provincial secretary.
Radzilani, a heavy hitter in the Vhembe region, remains in the clear because no charges have been formulated by the National Prosecuting Authority against her.
She had to step aside after a forensic report implicated her in the VBS matter but, two years later, was reinstated by the national executive committee (NEC).
Although Lekganyane is considered to be on the losing slate, some think he must return as a compromise candidate.
Lekganyane has been cited by some in the NEC as an important piece of the puzzle for Ramaphosa and his allies ahead of the December national conference.
This also followed a marginal Eastern Cape win, which showed that those who support Ramaphosa do not enjoy overwhelming support in the provinces. An insider in the Masemola faction said the Waterberg region was important in that it would cause an upset, much like the WB Rubusana region in the Eastern Cape that helped clinch Oscar Mabuyane’s reelection as chairperson.
Mabuyane, a strong ally of Ramaphosa, won against Babalo Madikizela, who is aligned with Msiza in a conference that was rocked by delays over another small region, WB Rubusana, which ultimately helped seal Madikizela’s fate.
The sitting of a regional conference in Waterberg would probably endorse Masemola, adding valuable numbers to his slate.
On Wednesday, the Waterberg regional task team petitioned the provincial secretary, asking that it hold its regional conference as the provincial conference kicks off.
The leaders in the region said they had received a signed audit report from the secretary general’s office, as well as the national dispute resolution committee (NDRC) report, which confirmed that all disputes had been attended to. They added that their regional conference would not interfere with the provincial conference.
Meanwhile, delegates on the ground seemed to have taken a hardened approach with those in Mathabatha’s corner praising both the chairperson and his ally Msiza, who has played an invisible hand over this conference.
This comes after disgruntled members from the Peter Mokaba region threatened court action if their region was allowed to participate. This was considered as another attempt by those aligned with Lekganyane to delay the conference to gain numbers. The provincial secretary is said to have petitioned top officials to delay the conference until the Peter Mokaba matter is resolved.
The disgruntled members are said to belong to a faction that supports Lekganyane.
Lekganyane said: “In fact, the conference sat without the disputes being resolved. So those branches want those disputes to be addressed, because [if not], they are also going to affect the credentials of the provincial conference.”
Those aligned to Mathabatha have argued that the disputes have been outstanding for more than four months, but the M&G understands that they have been resolved, with the PEC meeting this week and satisfying itself that it is ready for the conference.
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