Mabuza keeps country guessing ahead of ANC’s 54th congress

Mabuza keeps country guessing ahead of ANC's 54th congress
DARK HORSE: Said to be riding on a ticket of unity, ANC chairman DD Mabuza is rumoured to be gunning of the ANC's top job. PICTURE BY MfisoDIGITAL/ZK.

With the call for him to be the deputy president of the ANC gradually dying down, Mabuza has been presenting the country with what some say is a strategy to try and get elected from the floor come December 2017.

Two sources in the province believe David Mabuza has disrupted the campaign by the allies of President Jacob Zuma in the ANC who want him to be deputy president, instead replacing it with the campaign for unity.

This, they believe, is Mabuza’s strategy to garner enough support for him up to be nominated off the floor and straight to the position of president.

013NEWS understands that Mabuza, of late, has not only been keeping the country in suspense concerning the ANC succession debate but also some regional and provincial leaders have been kept in the dark, with only Mabuza’s trusted lieutenants being aware of what is really contained in his cards.

Businessmen like Robert Gumede as well as eMalahleni mayor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, eHlanzeni ANC deputy secretary Nathaniel Mashile and Safety and Security MEC Pat Ngomane are counted as those Mabuza pours his heart out to.

Mabuza keeps country guessing ahead of ANC's 54th congress
State Security minister David Mahlobo (L), provincial dep secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali (C) and chairman DD Mabuza (R). MfisoDIGITAL.

In public gatherings, Mabuza has been consistent, preaching unity and warning ANC members that failure to achieve unity would mean the end of the ANC.

One of the sources, who understands Mabuza’s campaigns through an ally who sits in the eHlanzeni ANC regional executive committee, said he doesn’t think Mabuza will endorse any candidate for the position of president “because that’s the position that he himself wants”.

“I don’t think so,” he said on Saturday when asked whether as Mpumalanga they intend to support national treasurer Zweli Mkhize for the position of president.

“I don’t think that Lomdzala (He who is an elder) – a colloquial phrase commonly used to refer to Mabuza – will work the ground like this for Mkhize or anyone else for that matter. I think that he wants to be the president,” he said after the special provincial general council at the Mbombela stadium on Saturday had concluded.

“Like I’m saying, you must just look at the possibilities of him emerging from the floor. Look at that,” he told the reporter.

Mkhize, a calm and fairly charismatic ANC leader from the KZN province, is one of the six leaders – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Mathews Phosa, Baleka Mbete and Lindiwe Sisulu – who are gunning for the position of president.

Mabuza, who is apparently not associating himself with the NDZ camp but who is neither flirting with the CR17 camp, has been endorsed by the NDZ camp for the post of deputy president.

SEE ALSO: Unique ANC PGC part of Mabuza’s “visionary leadership”

He has been keeping close relations with the ANC in Free State, North West, KZN – the so-called Premier League, believed to be led by him – and has recently added Gauteng and Limpopo, making him a contender in charge of at least six of the nine provinces and somewhat of a strongman in the 2017 ANC national elective congress.

The source claims that Mabuza is a “one-man’s show” and is not comfortable at “the idea of leaving the power base he has created in the province for merely a deputy president position”.

“Would you leave? And where are you going to fall afterwards? This is politics chief,” he said.

Mabuza is said to have a long time prepared himself for the succession battles of the ANC and that his campaign for unity is his weapons to outsmart all contesters going into the conference, like NDZ’s radical economic transformation and CR17’s anti-State Capture campaigns.

Mabuza is often talked of as that provincial leader who influenced the outcomes of the national congresses of the ANCWL and ANCYL in 2015, putting Bathabile Dlamini instead of Angie Matshekga and Collen Maine and Desmond Moela instead of Ronald Lamola.

He is also credited with influencing the appointment of the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane and a measure of his political strength was demonstrated at the party’s policy conference in June this year when he was pivotal in swaying a decision for conference to accept and debate a diagnostic report on the dire state of the party.

On Saturday, Mabuza convened what they call “a unique Provincial General Council”, inviting four ANC provincial leaders to come speak.

North West chairman Supra Mahumapelo, Gauteng’s Paul Mashatile, Free State’s Ace Magashule as well as KZN’s Willies Mchunu spoke during the PGC held at the Mbombela stadium and attended by more than 8 000 ANC members.

The Limpopo ANC was also invited but its leader Stanely Mathabatha apparently didn’t come as he didn’t speak.

Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape ANC were not on the agenda.

Mabuza keeps country guessing ahead of ANC's 54th congress

Three weeks ago, national secretary Gwede Mantashe officially opened the ANC’s succession debate, introducing a new nomination system that will require each and every branch to compile a list of their preferred top 6 and additional members and send it directly to Luthuli House.

Previously, branches used to compile a list and send to the regions but the list used to be manipulated by provinces for factional purposes.

Mantashe said this is one of the ways they want to end slates, as branches will now choose the leaders they want.

Mabuza is also said to be someone who commands a lot of influence in closed meetings with other leaders when touching on the issue of how they will kill the ANC if they don’t unite and find a proper replacement to win the 2019 general elections and has been presenting himself as that leader who had used government spending to try and deliver services to the poor.

During the PGC on Saturday, all provincial leaders agreed that the ANC needs a unifier more than anything else now.

Whether Mabuza is indeed the dark horse he is made out to be remains to be seen and with no obvious frontrunner in the presidential race and only three months to go till conference, only time will tell…

(edited by ZK)

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