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ANC Limpopo province never agreed to support Ramaphosa’s bid for a second term

..Provincial Chair Mathabatha jumped the gun by publicly backing Ramaphosa

The ANC’s Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane has hit out at the provincial chair and premier Stan Mathabatha saying it was “preposterous” for him to use the party’s January 8 celebration stage to lobby for party president Cyril Ramaphosa to serve a second term. 

Lekganyane, who is known to also support Ramaphosa, said Mathabatha was speaking for himself as no decision had been taken by the party structures in the province on the matter.

While the campaign period is yet to be officially open, ANC leaders in provinces and nationally have begun jostling for power in what looks to be a highly factional and fragmented race.

Last week Mathabatha took to the podium at the party’s celebration in Polokwane and announced that the ANC in Limpopo would support Ramaphosa’s re-election at its conference in December. 

The endorsement drew mixed reaction with critics of Mathabatha arguing that he should be charged for ill-discipline. 

Speaking to Sowetan, Lekganyane said Mathabatha’s behaviour undermined the prestige of the event and jumped the gun as the leadership race was yet to be officially opened by the national executive committee.

“The chairperson pronounced his individual opinion as he called for comrade President Ramaphosa for a second term. It was not the provincial executive committee or branches of the ANC. We are elected as a collective and we must pronounce collectively on matters of national importance,” he said.

“The prestigious January 8 statement should be used as a platform where we should send messages of unity and renewal in the movement not to pronounce names without following a principle.”

“He should have told the president about how the remote villages in the province lack water, roads and infrastructure and what would be the solution for their challenges.”

Lekganyane said Mathabatha lacked a sense of occasion as he missed an opportunity to inject confidence among the people of Limpopo.

“The ANC-led government is under siege as criminals are stealing money meant for the poor. We have Mogalakwena municipality which is under administration, other people within our ranks have stolen money from the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank and we also gave people shacks [instead of proper structures] in Talana. Those are the issues needed to be told,” Lekganyane said. 

Mathabatha could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered and did not respond to text messages at the time of going to print.

ANC member in Musina, Fistos Mafela, has written to the NEC calling for Mathabatha to be disciplined.

In his letter Mafela said he has serious concerns with the pronouncement made by the provincial chair and Sekhukhune regional secretary Tala Mathope.

“The two declared publicly that they are in full support for the second [term] of Ramaphosa. According to the ANC nobody is allowed to pronounce the leadership before the party opens the succession debate. The branches are the ones to speak, not a person using his elected position to pronounce,” Mafela said.

He feels that action should be taken against those comrades irrespective of their positions or who they support.  

Mathope, who also announced support for a second term for Ramaphosa at the event, has defended his statement.

“I think I need to clarify my statement. We said when the succession debate opens we are going to support Ramaphosa for a second term. We are aware that the debate for leadership is not yet open but when that time comes we are going to rally behind Ramaphosa because he has, among other things, stabilised the ANC-led government,” he said.

He added that his region was already lobbying other regions in the province to back Ramaphosa. 

–Sowetan

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