The African National Congress (ANC) in Mpumalanga has wished its provincial leader, David Mabuza, many more years to come after he turned 56 on Thursday.

The ANC salutes and is grateful to Mabuza, it said in a statement released to all media houses on late Thursday morning.

Mabuza turned 56 on 25 August 2016 and was wished by the party he leads in the province that God, “the good Lord,” should shower him with “blessings and many more years [in order for Mabuza] to continue serving the people of Mpumalanga and South Africa,” the party said in the statement.

“Mabuza dedicated his life to the service of the people in Mpumalanga. We salute Mabuza for his continued commitment to the service of the people of Mpumalanga.

“The ANC and the people are grateful to Mabuza,” it said.

During the congress that elected the new provincial leadership of the ANCYL on 10 July this year, youth league president Collen Maine hinted Mabuza as the next deputy president of the ANC nationally, with this code, ‘DDM003DP’.

According to freelance journalist and political analyst Mandla Khoza, who attended the July congress, the code ‘DDM003DP’ is a code that is “easy to decipher”. He said: “It should stand for ‘David Dabede [Mabuza], who is on third term as Mpumalanga chairperson should be elected Deputy President’. It is as simple as that”, Khoza wrote on his news site, the Afrikan Voice.

But the succession debate is not yet opened, the league said this week, saying Khoza took “everything said at the congress out of context”.

Mabuza’s province is seen as united by many, after he called a meeting with the disgruntled Save Mpumalanga ANC group, led by former provincial secretary Peter Nyoni, whose team, led by former provincial deputy chairman, David Dube, was defeated when Mabuza emerged in late last year’s provincial congress as the new chairman for a third term.

The Save ANC Mpumalanga group had been calling for Mabuza’s head to roll as chairman of the ANC in the province labelling him the Nkurunzinza of Mpumalanga, a term that likened him to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunzinza who also sought a third term in his tenure of office, as president, in last years elections.

“The unity was after an agreement with the issues raised [by Save ANC Mpumalanga leaders] at the Alliance Summit” a source told 013NEWS on Thursday.

However another source in the eHlanzeni executive committee told 013NEWS that the call for Mabuza to emerge as the deputy president is actually a ploy to ‘test the waters.’ He said that the actual plan is for Mabuza to emerge as the president of the ANC in the 2017 elective conference.

“Chief has teams of people that have entered each province and have set up base there to begin the work of lobbying. Every province has an operational centre and the main centre is in Gauteng,” he said.

The large resource pool displayed by Mabuza in these past elections, where members from Mpumalanga were deployed to KZN, Gauteng and as far as the Eastern Cape to assist those provinces with capacity to run elections, as well as Mpumalanga’s performance in the elections comparative to other provinces are strong indicators of how far Mabuza’s sphere of influence may reach.

Mabuza’s home region, eHlanzeni, is the second largest region [in terms of membership] in the country after eThekwini region.

“Mabuza committed his life to service the people of Mpumalanga and prosperity of our beloved province. We salute him for that”, the ANC said.

Last year Mabuza mysteriously fell ill while celebrating his birthday in Bushbuckridge in a week long celebration that saw him give away houses to the poor and sharing his birthday with elderly people in the province.

The ANC got 70% in 3 August 2016’s local government elections, a decline on its 78% 2011 victory.

(edited by ZK)

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