Simmering discontent within his own ranks is seemingly taking a turn for the worst as undercurrents of intended mobilised action to overthrow Premier Stan Mathabatha contain the strongest possible message for him to refrain from doing business his way.
Polokwane Observer learnt of signs predicting mobilisation of cadres to go over to action to see Mathabatha ousted.
“They want to overthrow him,” a trusted source said of those unhappy with the manner in which Mathabatha runs the province. Some of his detractors regard last week’s reported swap of African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentarian Polly Boshielo with Legislature Member Joe Maswanganyi as a sign of strengthening of Mathabatha’s immediate support base. According to information Boshielo was apparently brought in to take over as Speaker of the Legislature while current Speaker, Merriam Ramadwa may find her way to Parliament as well. It would come as no surprise if Maswanganyi got absorbed in a ministerial position, a source said.
It was learnt that Mathabatha’s perceived inability to unite his people has increasingly been a point of discussion among members of the ruling party in the province, as are his politically motivated decisions. If not, he stands running the risk of Luthuli House stepping in, emphasised sources within the party this week. “Factional tendencies come at a price.”
The Premier’s choice to replace former Provincial Treasury MEC Rudolph Phala a fortnight ago was one such issue that raised eyebrows. Sources reckoned Phala was satisfactorily performing in the position, but had to go to make way for inclusion of a Mathabatha favourite on the Executive Council (Exco). The belief was shared that if performance assessment played a role in the consideration to replace Phala, one or two of the remaining MECs on the Exco should rather have gone.
In Mathabatha’s defence a source from within his support base was vocal about the possibility of any of a handful of individuals bitter about positions on the Exco being responsible for steering the mobilisation of forces against the Premier. “It is about people thinking they deserve more than others.” The source predicted that such sentiments could even drive some to rejoin the Cassel Mathale grouping.
Keeping the party structures across the province happy is a tall order. To achieve that Mathabatha needs to get the balancing act right; not for the sake of maintaining stability in ANC ranks, but to avoid Luthuli House stepping in, reasoned a source Polo-kwane Observer interviewed. If the ruling inner faction extends its hand too far, it would be alienating the outer circle and run the risk of over-polarising an already polarised political arena, warned one such source.
Insiders predicted that the upcoming Provincial General Council (PGC) of the ANC to decide on a new Provincial Treasurer to take the seat of Thembi Nwedamutswu, might mean the actual public emergence of the faction opposing Mathabatha. According to information ANC Provincial Working Committee (PWC) members Danny Msiza and Joe Mathebula are firm favourites for the position.
The rise of factions seems to be a reality the ANC in the province cannot ignore. In his political report to the last PGC of the ANC in April, Mathabatha remarked about the appearance of a re-emergence of factional tendencies manifest through clandestine meetings in some corners of the province.
Then there is still the recurring tendency of the organisations being taken to court without internal processes being followed, which recently moved the ANC Youth League (Ancyl) to call for an investigation to determine who is responsible for funding of disgruntled members.