Ramaphosa cements his power, dilutes Magashule’s support

Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa is tightening his grip on power, dismantling some of the structures considered to be strongholds of suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

Supporters of the president this week scored a major victory in reconfiguring the ANC Youth League’s national task team (NYTT), which was initially dominated by Magashule’s allies. Following hours of intense discussions at the meeting of the team this week, the impasse over the composition of the working committee was broken through a vote at the insistence of the Magashule grouping.

“They underestimated the divisions within their grouping [Magashule’s faction],” an NYTT member said, adding that the divisions of the team mirrored those of the mother body.

“We can’t be insulated from the divisions of the ANC,” the member said. Ramaphosa’s hand on power was also strengthened after the ANC’s national working committee announced a Free State task team led by the president’s supporter and Magashule’s nemesis, Mxolisi Dukwana.

Dukwana, whom Magashule fired as economic development MEC when he was still Free State premier, is the convener of the interim provincial committee (IPC), while Paseka Nompondo is the co-ordinator.

Free State premier Sisi Ntombela, who is the deputy convener, Nompondo and Dukwana –all erstwhile allies of Magashule – have since dropped the former provincial strongman and are now in a position to deliver the Free State to Ramaphosa when the party goes to its national general council and elective conference next year.

The province’s former chairperson, Sam Mashinini, is part of the interim team though he was not selected to occupy any influential position. Insiders in the province said the IPC is pushing for Sisi Ntombela to effect a cabinet reshuffle that will see Magashule’s loyalists dropped.

In what appeared to be the end of Mashinini’s role in Ntombela’s cabinet, the premier last week announced changes to the department of police, roads and transport, saying social development MEC Mamiki Qabathe would act on behalf of Mashinini until June 18.

She also appointed Mosa Tlali as the head of department following the precautionary suspension of Sipho Mthakathi.

Both Mashinini and Mthakathi are said to be Magashule’s associates. In another boost for Ramaphosa, one of his key allies, Zamani Saul, was reelected as Northern Cape’s chairperson, along with his slate.

Bentley Vass was elected his deputy, Deshi Ngxanga remains the secretary and Maruping Lekwene the deputy secretary, while Fufe Makatong was re-elected as treasurer.

Ramaphosa told the Northern Cape conference that the ANC was resolute in rooting out bad elements within its ranks.

“Unity does not mean that we must close ranks at all costs and at all times,” he said, adding that the party had to call out deviant behaviour to protect itself.

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