Deputy Minister of COGTA Parks Tau. Picture: Chris Collingridge.

CHARLES MOLELE

DEPUTY Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the ANC’s Gauteng provincial treasurer, Parks Tau, has emerged as the front-runner to become the next Health MEC.

Inside Politics has reliably learnt that Tau is touted as the red-hot favourite to replace Dr Bandile Masuku, who was fired almost two months ago as Gauteng Health MEC for his role in the multi-million rand personal protective equipment (PPE) scandal.

Tau’s candidature as the next Health MEC is supported by the ANC’s heavyweights in the province, including Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi.

Makhura is expected to announce the new Health MEC on Wednesday.

Tau’s promotion, however, has sparked an internal revolt from ANC Youth League structures in the province.

The ANCYL prefers its chairperson, Matome Chiloane, as the next Health MEC.

The militants in the youth league have also rejected the decision to have Thulani Ndlovu to step down as a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) in order to pave the way for Tau, saying the move was meant to ‘rob’ young people of an opportunity to lead.  

Inside Politics understands that Ndlovu was offered an advance salary of R2 million for the next two years, including a substantial government pension and benefits.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the youth league in Gauteng said it rejected attempts by “the eldership to turn young activists into ‘John Vuligate’ for elders”.

“The ANCYL in Gauteng has learnt with great shock that the leadership is lobbying a young MPL to resign so he can be replaced by an elder in the legislature,” the youth league said.

“The ANCYL in the province worked tirelessly with various ANC branches and fought hard to ensure the few young activists we have in the Legislature are nominated. The ANCYL will therefore not sit in silence as the eldership tries to reverse our collective gains by turning its members into “John Vuligate” for elders.”

The league called on the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) and premier Makhura to reconsider the move to remove Ndlovu, and to instead appoint the next Health MEC from the current cohort of younger MPLs.

Meanwhile, the South African Communist Party (SACP), on the other hand, was pushing hard this week for Joe Mpisi, the Party’s Gauteng Chairperson and the current head of the portfolio committee on finance in the provincial legislature.

However, it is understood that senior ANC figures demurred and protested against Mpisi’s candidature, saying it was politically and strategically unwise to have two senior members of the SACP in the Executive.

The other senior member of the SACP in the provincial executive is MEC for Transport, Jacob Mamabolo, who is also acting Health MEC.

The ‘dark-horse’ in the race to replace Masuku is the Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, but ANC insiders said it was unlikely she would prevail given the ponderous and complex nature of constitutional and legal processes to be followed before she can resign from the legislature.

The health portfolio is one of the hotly contested departments in the provincial government by ANC deployees due to its enormous budget, and lucrative state tenders on hand, including the supply of coal contracts to local and provincial hospitals.

Inside Politics understands that Masuku previously clashed with some of the senior ANC leaders over coal contracts at provincial hospitals, which are mostly awarded to ANC patronage networks and cronies.

At the start of the current term of office, Makhura preferred Tau for the finance portfolio, but he was persuaded by President Cyril Ramaphosa to accept the position of deputy minister at COGTA because of his extensive knowledge, skills set and experience in the local government sphere.  

Tau was previously the mayor of City of Joburg, chair of SA Local Government Association (SALGA) and president of the United Cities and Local Government (UCLG).

(SOURCE: INSIDE POLITICS)

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