Johannesburg – The once close-knit relationship between ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe and Eastern Cape provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane is heading for splitsville.
Mantashe this week rocked the Eastern Cape political ecosystem when he visited a region that is known to be hostile to the ANC provincial leadership seen to be aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mantashe gave a keynote speech at the elective conference of Amathole Region and sang praises for its regional secretary Terris Ntutu who has been endorsed by the region for the role of provincial secretary in the upcoming provincial elective conference.
During his speech at the Amathole elective conference Mantashe revealed that there had been issues with the provincial leadership when it became known that he would be speaking at that conference.
He said: “When it became known that I’m coming to speak here there was an eruption of seizures between the province and the region. I was asked about what am I going to do here? I told them I don’t have no-go areas in ANC territories.”
Mantashe has been known as the ANC political surrogate of the Eastern Cape and the province has been supporting his political ambitions.
It is believed, however, that he has fallen out with Mabuyane who is the party’s provincial chairperson and a staunch Ramaphosa supporter.
Party insiders believe that part of the fallout is the result of the political ambitions that both Mantashe and Mabuyane have for next year’s ANC’s 55th National Conference.
According to sources Mantashe wants to contest for the deputy presidency of the ANC while Mabuyane is seeking a seat in the ANC’s top 6.
It is said that Mantashe tried to persuade Mabuyane not to contest but rally support for him while Mabuyane sees his proximity to Ramaphosa as an opportunity not to be missed.
Mabuyane denied there were tensions between him and Mantashe. He said: “I’m not aware of any tensions with Mqwathi [Mantashe’s clan name] but just like you, I have written to him to seek clarity about certain things he said at Amathole about the province.”
Attempts to get a comment from Mantashe were unsuccessful.
Mabuyane is expected to be challenged by the province’s treasurer Babalo Madikizela.Madikizela’s allies have also won the Nelson Mandela Bay Regional conference, with Babalwa Lobishe elected as chairperson and Luyolo-Chilli Nqakula as secretary.
The Alfred Nzo Region also threw its weight behind Madikizela to contest Mabuyane for the provincial chair and Ntuthu as provincial secretary, and to dislodge the incumbent Lulama Ngcukayitobi.
The outcomes of the provincial conference slated for March will have a huge impact on the national conference in which Ramaphosa is expected to be challenged by a candidate aligned to the RET faction. The province played a big role in Ramaphosa’s election to the ANC’s top position in 2017.
Another province that pushed Ramaphosa past the line in 2017 was Limpopo, but there too warning signs are emerging and his campaign for a second term suffered a setback when he lost two regions in Limpopo.
Ramaphosa’s faction, who are calling themselves the “CR 22 forces” were defeated by RET forces aligned to provincial treasurer Danny Msiza in the Vhembe and Sekhukhune regions in the past five days. Msiza’s ally Tshitereke Matibe was elected regional chairperson in Vhembe beating his rival Dowelani Nenguda by 204 votes to 174.
Msiza’s supporters also won the Sekhukhune regional conference, which was held at the Groblersdal Rugby Stadium on Wednesday night.
Respected ANC heavyweight Julia Mathebe beat her rival Stan Ramaila by 149 votes to 55 to become the first female to lead the region.
In the Norman Mashabane region, Ramaphosa ally Pule Shai was elected regional chairperson with a big margin a few months ago.
It remains to be seen what will transpire at the Peter Mokaba regional conference, which is expected to be held next week.