Province expected to back Ramaphosa for re-election as ANC leader
Former Free State premier and long-serving ANC provincial chair Ace Magashule has lost influence in the province he controlled for almost two decades.
This became evident last weekend when former president Thabo Mbeki, who repeatedly snubbed Magashule for the Free State premiership, spent the weekend helping rebuild ANC structures.
Those attending the revival sessions with Mbeki included many of Magashule’s former allies. During the meetings, they all agreed that the now-suspended ANC secretary-general had broken the ANC in that province and compromised service delivery
Prominent former allies in attendance included premier Sisi Ntombela, interim provincial committee (IPC) co-ordinator Paseka Nompondo and former spokesperson Thabo Meeko. They, along with many others, have ditched Magashule in apparent pursuit of reuniting the province.
The once anti-Ramaphosa province is now expected to support his campaign for a second term as ANC president, which Magashule is against.
“The Free State will be one of the provinces that will support Cyril Ramaphosa for a second term,” said an insider. “All five regions and the province will be supporting him.”
The Sunday Times understands that Ntombela is now fully behind Ramaphosa’s faction.
Those close to her say she has acknowledged that the Free State government and municipalities were ruined during Magashule’s tenure.
Ntombela is said to have been one of the most vocal during sessions with Mbeki about how the ANC provincial leadership had to focus on service delivery instead of factionalism.
“A lot of work had to go into this,” said a provincial leader who did not want to be named. “We had the Free State lobby group that was anti-corruption and … we exposed all the wrong things that he and his cronies were doing.
At the moment he has no-one, the guy is on his own, even his own home boys in the form of Thabo Manyoni and Tsietsi Matang do not see eye-to-eye with him.
“The other thing that salvaged the situation was when we won the court case about the disbandment of the PEC. All these guys saw they had nowhere to run.”
The former Magashule allies jumped ship after a unity programme led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, which helped reunite the anti- and pro-Magashule groups last year.
Titled the “10 a side”, 10 people from each group were involved. Anti-Magashule figures included Mxolisi Dukwana, Ike Moroe, Kgomotso Tsitsi and Dodo Rantho. The pro-Magashule group was represented by Nompondo, Meeko, William Bulwane and Oupa Khoabane, among others.
This resulted in the institution of an IPC representative of all sides.
But it soon became clear that those previously aligned with Magashule were deserting him when Ntombela removed Magashule’s known lieutenant, Sam Mashinini, from her cabinet, replacing him with Dukwana.
“At the moment he has no-one, the guy is on his own, even his own home boys in the form of Thabo Manyoni and Tsietsi Matang do not see eye-to-eye with him,” said the insider.
Nompondo and Meeko declined to comment while Ntombela had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to print.