'Premier League' seems to be its losing grip

21 August 2017 - 05:49 By Olebogeng Molatlhwa
President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

The influence of a pro-Jacob Zuma group, aka "the Premier League", is waning ahead of the ANC's December elective conference as branches in their provinces openly revolt.

Insiders in North West and Free State told The Times that conferences have been postponed or collapsed by the respective provincial chairmen and premiers Supra Mahumapelo and Ace Magashule in a bid to retain power.

Three ANC regions in North West, which were disbanded in 2015, failed to hold conferences to elect new leadership last week.

A fourth region - Kenneth Kaunda in Klerksdorp - was not disbanded but its term of office lapsed a year ago. Its regional conference also failed to take place.

Tokyo Mataboge, former secretary of Bojanala region encompassing Rustenburg, and 39 branch members successfully blocked the conference due to branch irregularities.

The conference in Ngaka Modiri Molema - encompassing provincial capital Mahikeng - failed to sit after "fundamental disputes" related to branch membership irregularities were raised in 38 of the region's 103 branches. The situation appears to be worse in Vryburg and Taung, where further irregularities were raised in 56 of the region's 66 branches, causing its conference to collapse.

Former secretary Priscilla Williams said: "The reason our conference was postponed is because Supra [Mahumapelo] and his supporters calculated the numbers and realised they were losing."

Mahumapelo and provincial secretary Dakota Legoete did not respond to requests for comment.

Branch nominations for leadership positions at the December conference are due next month and this places the province's participation in jeopardy.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe is said to have refused to sign off the province's branch audit report - killing off the provincial leadership's attempts to convene regional conferences with allegedly "bogus branches".

Insiders said Mahumapelo is losing influence within his circle, with former allies now foes. They include ANC Youth League president Collen Maine.

Magashule's grip on power is slipping after a provincial conference set for last week was postponed. He is being challenged by his deputy and former ally, Thabo Manyoni.