The African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State has confirmed the submission of three names of candidates for position of Premier to the party’s national leadership to select from. This comes following the current Premier Ace Magashule’s announcement to step down from the position at the end of this month following his election to a full-time position at the party’s headquarters (Luthuli House) as Secretary-General during last year’s ANC national conference at Nasrec.
Speaking to Dumelang News yesterday, Provincial Interim Committee (PIC) co-ordinator, William Bulwane, confirmed that the PIC – as a structure bestowed with full powers to oversee the smooth running of the organisation’s programmes, including leadership elections – has forwarded names to the National Executive Committee (NEC) to choose Magashule’s successor. Current MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sisi Ntombela – who also serves as Deputy President of the party’s Woman’s League – has been selected as the first candidate for the position.
Her counterparts in the province, Sam Mashinini (MEC for Police, Roads and Transport) and Maki Mahasa (MEC for Social Development), are among the possible names to be chosen for the position of provincial boss. Bulwane said the three names were chosen due to their credentials in both government and the ruling party over the years. “We have chosen those three comrades because we believe they are all capable candidates to take over the office. Unfortunately, the NEC will have to appoint only one person among the three nominees.
This is one of the things that the PIC was appointed to deal with because – come end of the month – the province has to have a premier,” said Bulwane. He said the three names were chosen for different reasons such as “a need for women to have representation in the leadership positions following the outcry that came from the outcome of the national conference’s top six and the dominance of men in the country’s premiership positions”.
“Comrade Ntombela was chosen, for that purpose among others, while comrade Mashinini – a former provincial secretary of COSATU – will represent the alliance and the name of comrade Mahasa received nomination from the Youth League who also felt the need to be represented. However, a decision on who becomes the Free State Premier now lays with the NEC in two weeks’ time during its next scheduled meeting,” confirmed Bulwane. Meanwhile, the PIC of the liberation movement in the province is still faced with another task of preparing a provincial elective conference which will choose a new leadership next week following last year’s Free State High court ruling which nullified the Parys conference.
According to Bulwane, the party will next week hold the two-day congress (17-18 March) to choose a new provincial executive at the Black Mountain Leisure & Conference Hotel in Thaba-Nchu. However, he further poured cold water on the possible postponement of the conference after a group of disgruntled members marched to Luthuli House on Monday and met senior party members to request postponement of the conference.
“The conference is going ahead as the PIC has received the green light from Luthuli House. This PIC did not appoint itself but was appointed by the same NEC of the ANC and is doing what is mandated to do,” he said. When asked about nominations of possible candidates to take over the leadership, Bulwane said lobbying processes were open for branches to campaign for their preferred candidates and “so far, I only know of four comrades in the race for the provincial chairperson position only.”
Dumelang News has also been reliably informed that – as the leadership race hots up – the four candidates expected to contest for party provincial boss are former ANC deputy chair person Thabo Manyoni, MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture Mathabo Leeto, MEC of police Sam Mashinini and former ANC provincial treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana.
This means that come April, the province could see a whole new shift in leadership, both in the ANC and in government. However, it could also mean two centres of power may prevail in the province.