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Cyril Ramaphosa makes sweeping changes

Months ahead of the ANC’s national elective conference, allies of President Cyril Ramaphosa are about to seize control of some of the party’s most strategic committees.

In a move seen by insiders as a consolidation of power by the Ramaphosa-aligned faction, the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) this week adopted a proposal to include non-members of the national executive committee (NEC) as members of the disciplinary sub-committees.

This move also saw individuals, whose loyalty to the ANC president was in doubt, being dropped.

The sweeping changes will also see the co-option of 11 unelected leaders on to the NEC sub-committees, the biggest number since the ANC’s first post-unbanning conference in 1991. Most affected are the national disciplinary committee (NDC) and the national disciplinary committee of appeals (NDCA).

The next NEC meeting, scheduled for later this month, is expected to finalise the proposed changes.

THE RETURN OF MBEKI-ERA FIGURES

Coming into the powerful disciplinary structures are former public service and administration minister and erstwhile UN big-wig Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and former deputy justice minister Johnny de Lange – both long-serving members of the Thabo Mbeki administration. Former water and environmental affairs minister Lindiwe Hendricks and ex-deputy minister of provincial and local government affairs Ntombazana Botha are also included. Both served under Mbeki.

In the mix is former National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli, entrepreneur and former director-general of public administration Robinson Ramaite, Thabo Mbeki Foundation CEO and lawyer Max Boqwana, and BEE pioneer Thandi Orleyn. Former Gauteng integrity commission head and erstwhile senior civil servant Ralph Mgijima, ANC head of legal affairs Krish Naidoo and SA Institute of Professional Accountants board member Karenza Millard have also been roped in.

Out is Jacob Zuma-era labour minister Mildred Oliphant, who has headed the NDC since just after the Nasrec elective conference in 2017, and tainted former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Mgijima is earmarked to take over from Oliphant, while De Lange is set to replace Mokonyane.

OUT WITH THE OLD

Among those who will retain their seats in the NDC are former ministers Susan Shabangu and Faith Muthambi, as well as Deputy Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nocawe Mafu. Exiting the structure are Bongani Bongo, Tito Mboweni, Nathi Mthethwa, Sdumo Dlamini, Pinky Moloi, Beauty Dlulane, Ngoako Ramatlhodi – all former ministers and deputy ministers.

In the NDCA, Deputy Public Enterprises Minister and former Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle will be retained alongside parliamentarian and former Northern Cape premier Sylvia Lucas.

Leaving the appeals committee are former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele, long-serving former deputy minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, embattled former health minister Zweli Mkhize and Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

Lamola, a key ally of Ramaphosa’s, is set take over as chairperson of the legal and constitutional affairs sub-committee from Mkhize.

Former state security minister David Mahlobo, a former Zuma confidante who is believed to have thrown in his lot with Ramaphosa, is set to replace Tony Yengeni – one of the leading lights of the radical economic transformation (RET) clique and an avowed foe of the president – as head of the peace and stability sub-committee.

Reliable Ramaphosa ally and Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi steps into the shoes of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana in the economic transformation sub-committee.

Godongwana, a key figure in the Ramaphosa contingent, held the position for a long time, but can no longer do so as the party committee has to monitor the work of government’s economic cluster.

Supporters of the revamp this week said that “political considerations have proven to contaminate disciplinary processes”, which has often led to the image of the party being brought into disrepute as the cases took a long time to conclude.

There had long been complaints that disciplinary measures within the party – including at the provincial, regional and branch levels – were applied selectively and along factional lines to purge opponents.

An NEC member said it was “rubbish” to accuse Ramaphosa of trying to capture the party’s disciplinary machinery, adding: There is an inherent conflict of interest with disciplinary issues when NEC members are involved.

The person cited as an example the ANC’s ethics monitoring body, the integrity committee, saying that it was staffed by people who were not members of the NEC.

“It is about removing the influence of political considerations from the disciplinary processes,” the source said.

Another NEC member said the matter was ventilated extensively during the last NEC meeting, which identified a pattern that most disciplinary cases “dragged on for too long”.

The failure to process cases timeously was blamed on the overloaded schedule of the NEC members, some of whom serve on other sub-committees, in government as ministers and in Parliament.

The source said:The second consideration was the usage of disciplinary processes to fight factional battles, so it was best to bring people from outside who will exercise impartiality when listening to the cases.

With the changes, the idea was that at least three or four members of the NEC would become part of the overhauled structures, but the chairperson would be a person from outside

‘WE ARE STILL WITH NDZ AND ACE’

But in Mpumalanga, the plan might not have gone smoothly as the RET faction of the ANC in the province is still in control after initial fears that the executive structure would be disbanded and reshuffled to accommodate Ramaphosa’s supporters.

For years, his supporters have been pushing to join the provincial executive committee (PEC) and even went so far as to take the party to court, claiming that the structure had outlived its term. On Monday, however, when the NWC finally decided to disband the structure, it retained the same leadership and members.

Newly appointed ANC Mpumalanga coordinator Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the changes would not hamper conference arrangements, adding that those who were disgruntled over the new provincial task team (PTT) would not become a stumbling block.

Ntshalintshali criticised Ramaphosa’s supporters, who have tried to worm their way into the PTT or have already endorsed him for a second term, without verification from branches.

Ntshalintshali said:We are still firmly an NDZ [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 2017 lobby group] province and CR [Cyril Ramaphosa] supporters are suffocating. We are not apologetic about it.

“We [suspended ANC secretary-general] Ace Magashule. If they prefer other people, then that is well and good because conferences are highly contested. When you look at the state capture report, there are a lot of people who would have been asked to step aside and some of them are in the executive – such as the secretary-general was – and they were not an accounting authority.

“Those comrades [CR supporters] are too desperate and I think they are just wasting their resources because branches are the ones that nominate [candidates] for the conference and if you go to court while the branches are the ones that nominate, it is a futile exercise. I think it’s four members or so and they claim to be representing other members of CR22, which we do not know,” she said.

Ntshalintshali said it was premature to pronounce on who the province would be supporting at conference, and warned those who have already endorsed Ramaphosa to refrain from undermining the branches. In particular, she mentioned the leader of the Nkangala region, Speedy Mashilo, who has been known to be part of the RET faction but recently made a U-turn and endorsed Ramaphosa.

“Right now, they are trying very hard to push a second term [for Ramaphosa], but it won’t work. We have warned those from our province to stop pronouncing on this second term. They must stop it. Branches are going to be voting delegates. So, you might shout as hard as you want, but those who are able to vote are against that.”

PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE IN DOUBT

Ntshalintshali is part of the Focus slate and she is punted as the deputy secretary of the province, while the PTT convener, Mandla Ndlovu, is expected to contest for the chairperson position.

“We have lobby groups and most of the nominations of the branches are more on the Focus slate. Where we are, we think we are going to be uncontested,” she said.

Former Mpumalanga PEC member Peter Nyoni is part of the group that wants an “all-inclusive” structure and believes that disbanding the provincial structure was useless, bearing in mind that the task team is led by the same members.

“We started speaking about these issues even before 2017 [Nasrec conference]. They went to conference with bogus branches. It has nothing to do with the factional battles going to this year’s national [conference] elections. We said we want an all-inclusive PTT, but this one only takes care of those who have been there. It’s not a matter of replacing the PEC with the very same structure … they should have drawn in comrades from a wider spectrum into its ranks.

“We are convinced that the conference date, which they have put forward, is not going to materialise because we have not exhausted all the processes,” Nyoni said.

–City Press

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