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Contest to replace Mabuza as ANC Mpumalanga chair hots up

Negotiations among contenders vying to replace ANC deputy president David Mabuza as Mpumalanga ANC chairman are hotting up‚ with opposing factions racing to secure early deals.

TimesLIVE understands that two of the contenders – MEC for safety and security Pat Ngomane and Sasekani Manzini‚ MEC for public works and provincial ANC spokeswoman – may be close to a deal in which Ngomane would be the new provincial chairman and Manzini possibly his deputy.

Ngomane and Manzini met on Wednesday in the latter’s constituency of Acornhoek in Bushbuckridge. The meeting was also attended by ANC youth league deputy president Desmond Moela as well as Bohlabela ANC regional secretary Folas Sibuyi.

However‚ it’s still early days as the province is only expected to convene its provincial general council (PGC) – constituted of branches – in April‚ to elect a new chairman and deputy.

This follows Mabuza’s elevation to the top six in December and the election‚ to the national executive committee (NEC)‚ of his deputy Violet Siwela.

Mabuza officially handed over the reins on Tuesday‚ during a final meeting with the provincial executive committee (PEC).

Although there are up to nine potential candidates vying for Mabuza’s throne‚ insiders in provincial party circles say Ngomane and Peter Nyoni – fierce opponent of Mabuza and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs head of department – are the real contenders in the race.

Nyoni was part of the anti-Mabuza ‘Save ANC Mpumalanga’ lobby group.

Sources said Nyoni’s campaign was likely to find support in some parts of Ehlanzeni region‚ of which he is a former deputy chairman‚ as well as Nkangala region which is led by another Mabuza opponent‚ Speedy Mashilo.

Nyoni may also count on the support of Fish Mahlalela‚ former provincial chairman‚ in a possible deal that would see Nyoni ascend to the provincial ANC throne with either Mahlalela or Mashilo becoming premier.

Mahlalela was instrumental in organising support for Ramaphosa in Mpumalanga‚ in the run-up to the December ANC elective conference.

Insiders say those in support of Ngomane are pushing for a consensus leadership – meaning no contest – adding that his campaign would be launched off the backs of branches that supported Mabuza to become ANC deputy president‚ especially those that famously nominated ‘unity’ in the Mpumalanga PGC last year.

“Ngomane is adamant that his campaign should be rooted in the branches. That is why he doesn’t want anyone talking on his behalf but keep in mind that these branches are the same branches that nominated ‘Unity’ in the PGC and we all know what ‘Unity’ means‚” said an insider.

But the race for the provincial ANC chairmanship has turned ugly‚ with detractors of Ngomane alleging that he has falsified his South African citizenship and that he is actually Mozambican.

The EFF in the Mpumalanga legislature has made similar allegations but provincial leader Collen Sedibe this week said they have failed to prove that Ngomane is not a South African citizen.

“What we have found out is that he (Ngomane) has one ID and is a valid South African. We have exhausted all avenues and there is nothing further we can do‚” said Sedibe.

Responding to the allegations‚ Ngomane said: “I am Ngomane. I was born of South Africans – both my parents are South African – but our roots are in Mozambique‚ from my grandparents. I’ve got records – my father is a South African and my mother is a South African.”

Asked why these allegations were surfacing now‚ just two months before he is to contest for the provincial chairmanship‚ Ngomane said: “Maybe I am a threat‚ politically.”