Limpopo Premier and African National Congress (ANC) Provincial Chairperson Stan Mathabatha’s apparent survival of a recently reported vertical manoeuvre, to have him booted out on the basis of alleged administrative underachievement, is seen to have been instigated by factional battles.
The move is interpreted to have been provoked by individuals hell-bent on wrestling power from Mathabatha for selfish reasons. From various corners the matter is seemingly construed as a failed ploy to get rid of Mathabatha in the run-up to the party’s December conference, which is already being likened to a battlefield.
It has redirected attention to the closing of ranks in the province in support of presidential candidate Cyril Ramaphosa. The alleged political ploy of three weeks back is believed to have been the result of a game plan aimed at ousting Mathabatha before the national conference in order to weaken Limpopo reinforcement in favour of Ramaphosa.
Whereas reliable sources confirmed that alliance partners have been alerted about what was apparently seen as Mathabatha’s pending departure at the time, both South African Communist Party (SACP) Provincial Secretary Gilbert Kganyago and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Provincial Chairperson Essob Mokgonyana denied having been informed about the matter.
In his comment Kganyago said if such a decision would be pending, it would be proper for the issue to first be ironed out in Limpopo and the alliance partners to be engaged on it initially. He suggested that if there was any such matter to be addressed it should wait until after the ANC’s national conference. Considering the relayed information at hand, he said they wouldn’t accept that the provincial government should be destabilised in the interest of factional play.
Mokgonyana said he had never received a call from Mathabatha to inform him of the matter, adding that what he heard in that regard were only rumours.
Provincial Government spokesperson Phuti Seloba attributed the information made available to Polokwane Observer to rumours being manufactured by selfish people. Quoting statistics of provincial government achievements and significant progress under Mathabatha rule, Seloba said they had built the trust and confidence of people in the Limpopo government. He expressed the opinion that when Mathabatha had taken over he inherited a province that was almost on its knees and since has formed a very strong team, stabilised finances and developed the Limpopo Development Plan, which is aligned to the national development plan.
A source in inner party ranks who confirmed the information stressed that it was not the mandate of the President to force Mathabatha out but that of the party in Limpopo to demand a recall if indeed they wanted him replaced. The perceived attempt to get him out was seen as a display of political will at a time when nothing should come as a surprise.
“It was instigated by the factional battles in the province to wrestle power from Mathabatha for selfish reasons. The run-up to the national conference is being used as a battlefield,” the source said in summarising the situation.
Ramaphosa’s support from the province, it was learnt, is based on sentimental rationale linked to his lineage while branches of the ruling party in the province consider him the next president when taking into account ANC tradition of the party president being succeeded by his deputy.
Story & photo: YOLANDE NEL