ANC bigwig Mandla Msibi hits campaign trail despite suspension

The ANC in Mpumalanga has pulled out all the stops to recover lost ground in four municipal areas where it struggled during the local government elections in 2021.
Following the popular former regional chairperson of Ehlanzeni, Ngrayi Ngwenya’s defection to the EFF and his five-year suspension on July 8, 2021, due to charges of supporting former president Jacob Zuma during his 2020 imprisonment, the ANC has intensified its campaign in the Nkomazi sub-region.
Suspended official campaigns for party
Another suspended big shot, provincial treasurer Mandla Msibi, went on a campaign trail in an attempt to boost the party’s campaign.
Msibi has been active in his stronghold of Pienaar outside Mbombela, despite his differences with the provincial leadership.

Msibi was handed a three-year suspension from the party in April, with the provincial disciplinary committee suspending the sanction for two years, effectively making the suspension effective for a year.

The provincial executive committee (PEC) stated that Msibi faced charges related to the alleged disruption of the party’s January 8 statement gathering held at the Mbombela Stadium earlier in the year.

However, the PEC emphasised that if Msibi were to commit similar offences during the initial suspension period, the full three-year sanction would be enforced.

Designated teams dispatched
The sprawling area has more than 7 000 voters, and Msibi said: “I have to make sure no single vote goes to the opposition.”
He has appealed his one-year suspension on misconduct charges relating to allegations that he tried to disrupt the January 8 celebrations.
Mpumalanga ANC secretary, Muzi Chirwa, admitted that the party smelled danger and had dispatched designated teams to the municipal areas of Mkhondo (Piet Retief), Lekwa (Standerton), Govan Mbeki (Secunda), and Steve Tshwete (Middelburg).
In these areas, the ANC has lost so much ground that it failed to reach 50% of the votes in 2021 and governs three of the local municipalities at the mercy of opposition parties.
Lekwa is the only municipality that the ANC has failed to take control of. Louis Thabethe, from the Lekwa Community Forum, is its mayor.
The party reclaimed Mkhondo as an independent mayor and has been leading Steve Tshwete and Govan Mbeki only because the EFF and the DA decided against working together after learning some lessons from disastrous coalitions in Gauteng metros.
ANC constitution is clear
Asked if Msibi was eligible to campaign, Chirwa said: “I won’t comment on that. Rule 25.6 [of the ANC constitution] is clear.

“That’s a space of the ANC processes. We are avoiding focusing on things that will affect the movement in the elections.”

Rule 25.6 protects members against being disciplined to stifle debate, deny them their democratic rights, or solve personal issues.

Msibi said: “I joined the ANC because I love it and its policies as well as the people. Secondly, I have appealed, so in terms of Rule 25.43, the sanction of the Provincial Disciplinary Committee remains suspended until the outcome of the NDC. The constitution is deliberately violated by individuals. Hence, I can’t punish the movement.”

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa was campaigning in Nkomazi, while former deputy president David Mabuza had been frequenting the Steve Tshwete and Govan Mbeki areas.
“We’ve had to work in a particular way in those municipalities and pull out all the stops to get all the voters back,” Chirwa said.
ANC targets 85% in Mpumalanga
“We have established designated teams from the province to support the local ones, and we have been consistently on the ground.”
The ANC won the province by 72.23% in 2019, a decline from 78% in 2014. The EFF followed at 11.51%, and the DA came in third at 9.12%.
Chirwa said that the target on May 29 is to increase the votes to 85%. “We are working towards an overwhelming victory that would be more than 85%,” he said.
Chirwa added that the ANC had to address service delivery issues in certain hotspot areas, such as Emalahleni, and rope in stakeholders it would not normally work with, such as the taxi industry, traditional leaders, and traditional healers.
If the results of the local government elections and the internal strife within the party are any indication, the target of 85% appears unrealistic.
Provincial DA leader Jane Sithole said that her party is not only focusing on capitalising on the five hotspot areas where the ANC has lost support.
The MK Party factor
“We’re not focusing on a particular area because we believe that Mpumalanga has potential everywhere. The DA has been everywhere,” Sithole said.
She said that more people have shown interest in voting, and that would help the opposition gain more votes.
“If we can reduce the ANC to below 50% in Mpumalanga, that would mean, nationally, we’re done, and they are guaranteed to be below 50% because the province is still one of those they are holding strong,” Sithole said.
She said that the introduction of a new party, the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party, brought about excitement and a dynamic that was sometimes disadvantaging to the opposition.
“The MK is eating from the ANC’s electorate and eating at our potential as well. The disgruntled voter becomes an MK Party voter because of the excitement.
“Therefore, the opposition voter keeps on circulating when a new party is introduced.”


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