A long-serving African National Congress (ANC) member, full-time organiser and volunteer – who was initially vocal in her criticism against the suspected VBS Mutual Bank looters but claimed to have stepped down for the party to deal with the matter instead – is rocking the organisation’s list boat with a dispute raised on the verge of the expected announcement of the elections date in South Africa.
In a race against time to have her name put back among the top 20 candidates listed as party favourites by the political structure in Limpopo to be considered for a seat in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Ponani Makhubele has lodged the dispute with Luthuli House on 13 January this year upon her return from the party’s January 8 celebrations in Durban.
On the sidelines of her attendance of the mass celebrations, Makhubele claimed, she has seemingly discovered that her name was excluded from a province-to-national list despite apparently having made it by a margin during the December provincial list conference and her having signed the nomination acceptance form in the ensuing period. She is vocal about securing a 12th position that would have emphatically secured her a seat in the NCOP, according to what she perceived to have been the final version of the candidates’ list.
In a telephonic interview speaking from Giyani, where she is attached to the ANC’s Bongi Mabunda branch, Makhubele informed Polokwane Observer of a battle waged against the alleged tampering with the list by a suspected faction of five party leaders and Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) members in Limpopo who seemingly would have decided on the future of others. She claimed they were being responsible for the state of affairs that completely excluded her from the province-to-national list that she had seen while in Durban. According to her she suspected the leaders of having turned against her for halting her initial criticism against individuals implicated in the VBS saga, which she was later compelled to do out of fear for her life and that of her family. She added that she had suspected that she was being side-lined as she was becoming a victim of association for being seen to be working along with suspects in the VBS matter after having stepped down on the issue.
By referring to occurrences in Durban she claimed she had been given shared lodging by a party official in the province, who reportedly had the files containing the documentation on the party’s list processes in Limpopo in her room at the time. She provided documentary evidence along with details of the location to corroborate her allegations about the list having been tampered with. She said what had raised suspicion was the fact that she had been informed that a nomination acceptance form would have been collected from the room on behalf of a candidate for him to sign, after other candidates have already done so in December.
Makhubele mentioned that upon her return home the Monday she had sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the ANC as well as Limpopo deployee Thoko Didiza of her concerns, of which copies were apparently forwarded to ANC Provincial Chairperson Stan Mathabatha and ANC Provincial Secretary Soviet Lekganyane and were further provided to Polokwane Observer. To date, Makhubele said, she had not received any feedback on her correspondence.
She explained that she was well aware of the fact that her time for getting her name back on the list was running out fast, as the announcement of the elections date by the President was seen to be imminent, which would precede the posting of lists of party candidates that would finally destroy all chances of her securing a position.
She wouldn’t have been that adamant if only she wasn’t side-lined a second time after having gone through a similar experience in the run-up to the 2016 local government elections, Makhubele said. She elaborated by saying she had received the required support from branches to get nominated then, nominated during the Mopani Regional list conference and assured about a 12th place on the list. However, at the eleventh hour she had learnt she was replaced by a male candidate when her name was moved to 18th position, she claimed. She raised the issue of having resigned from her position as administrator in the Giyani Sub-District of the Department of Social Development in 2011 to join the ANC full-time upon insistence of the regional leadership. She had subsequently become a Greater Giyani municipal PR councillor in June 2011 and was deployed as the first chairperson of the municipal public accounts committee in November that year, she said. She concluded by raising the opinion that she considered herself worthy of being on the candidates’ list due to her party credentials and having served the organisation in different capacities, including as provincial executive member of the Young Communist League of South Africa with Lekganyane in 2005.
When asked for comment on behalf of the PEC of the ANC in Limpopo, spokesperson Donald Selamolela said Makhubele had the right to lodge any dispute about any process or issue that aggrieved her. He confirmed that she had raised the issue with Luthuli House, adding that she hadn’t taken up the matter with the PEC though and expressed the hope that she would receive a response. He further commented saying the PEC of the ANC was confident they had done everything in line with the prescripts of the processes. “We are confident about what we have done and have satisfied ourselves that we have done everything correctly.” Selamolela refuted the allegations against the handful of party and PEC leaders, labelling it as unfortunate and saying the speculations had no substance.
He concluded saying the official lists have not been released as yet and no one could claim to have seen it.
Story: YOLANDE NEL