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Bruised ANC deliberates on Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape Premiers

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Simon Nare

After being battered at the polls, a limping ANC now has to get down to do the daunting task of selecting premier candidates for provinces as the National Executive Committee members – some of whom face an unknown future – are set to meet this week to consider names.

The governing party performed dismally across the provinces and have lost three economically-crucial provinces in Gauteng, Northern Cape and KZN while surviving Mpumalanga, Free State and North West but scored resounding victories in Limpopo and Eastern Cape where it got 73% and 62.16%.

While KZN has totally gone to former President Jacob Zuma’s MK Party, the ANC can start agonising about candidates for premiership in Gauteng and Northern Cape where they got the most votes although not the majority.

The NEC is set to meet this Tuesday to consider three names from provincial executive committees and sparks could fly as discussions take place along factional lines and with President Cyril Ramaphosa now weakened after the dismal election performance, so too will be his faction.

A glance into possible names for premiership shows that Limpopo could for the first time, have a female Premier in health MEC Phophi Ramathuba who is said to have the backing of the ANC Youth League in the province as well as outgoing Premier Stan Mathabatha who is chairman of the province.

Mathabatha’s deputy Florence Radzilana could have had a shot at it but the VBS Bank scandal in which she was implicated, has dealt her a blow.

Ramathuba, even though she is further down on the list of PEC ladder has built her profile quite extensively in the province and even nationally with her feistiness and leadership qualities she has shown during the Covid-19 pandemic and in dealing with health issues in her region. 

In the North West Nono Maloyi is poised to be the province’s first citizen after defeating current premier and Ramaphosa ally Bushy Maape who didn’t even make it to the PEC. There doesn’t seem to be any contest here.

On the contrary, a repeat of the Gauteng battle for ANC chairmanship can emerge between current premier Panyaza Lesufi and Lebogang Maile. 

This might be round three between the two after Lesufi won the first round to take over former Premier David Makhura and eventually to become chairman in a contest that pitted the two against each other.

It’s not clear cut if the party will retain Gauten’s Premiership after it didn’t win the majority vote and whether it gets the premiership hinges largely on coalition talks but Maile’s faction is said to have an upper hand in terms of numbers in the PEC. 

On the other hand, if ANC does get the premiership, it might create two centres of power headache if Maile finally wins this round.

Another two centres of power scenario is set to dictate deliberations on who should get the Mpumalanga Premiership. 

Current Premier Refilwe Mtsweni who was literally handpicked by former Deputy President David Mabuza when he climbed up the ladder to national leadership after the 2017 Nasrec national conference, may not survive this time.

Mandla Ndlovu as Chairman of the ANC in the Province may be a clear pick over Mtsweni to avoid two centres of power complications, but gender equality could swing things in Mtsweni’s favour.

In the Eastern Cape the scenario is different where Oscar Mabuyane stands head-and-shoulders above other candidates in the province to lead for his second term after his ambitions to climb up the national ladder fizzled at the 2022 Nasrec national conference.

Mxolisi Dukwana in the Free State is expected to be Premier candidate given that he has done a better job of retaining the ANC’s lead in the province. 

Dukwana who came into the reigns last year is still popular in the province as Chairperson of the ANC.

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