South Africa

ROAD TO ELECTIVE CONFERENCE

‘Humbling and terrifying’ – Oscar Mabuyane on name thrown into hat for ANC deputy president position

The Eastern Cape premier and ANC provincial chairperson has become the latest party bigwig to be endorsed for the fiercely contested position ahead of the party’s elective conference set to take place in just three months’ time.

The Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in the Eastern Cape has thrown its weight behind Oscar Mabuyane for the hotly contested position of deputy president ahead of the December elective conference.    

Several members of the PEC confirmed this to the Daily Maverick following its meeting last week. 

“We had a robust discussion and arrived to the conclusion that Oscar is the man for [the] job and there were no disagreements about that,” said a PEC member who asked not to be named. 

The province is the party’s third largest in terms of membership, after Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. It is expected to influence the outcomes of the conference.  

Mabuyane is a known ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa. By some, he is viewed as a pragmatist and someone who has endorsed Ramaphosa for the sake of political expediency given his big ambitions. 

During his re-election as chairperson at the provincial conference, Mabuyane sang Ramaphosa’s praises as he lauded him for being courageous enough to have taken major steps towards organisational renewal. 

Mabuyane joins the likes of  ANC NEC member Mmamoloko Kubayi, Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and incumbent Deputy President David Mabuza, who is said to have his eyes on re-election

Oscar Mabuyane

Premier Oscar Mabuyane during his state of the province address. (Photo: Mandla Nduna)

Ronald Lamola

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. (Photo: Flickr / Dirco)

David Mabuza

David Mabuza, South Africa Deputy President). (Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi)

Speaking to Daily Maverick,  Mabuyane confirmed he had been approached by a number of individuals who were of the view that he has the right skill set and experience for the deputy president post.  

However, he has not responded to the calls.   

“Well, there are a lot of comrades who have spoken about this and I’ve never given an answer, I am still listening comrades, it’s not about me giving an answer, it’s about branches and members of the ANC to say where do I go.”  

Mabuyane describes himself as an aspirant revolutionary, not somebody who is preoccupied with power positions.

In 2009, he was nominated as the party’s secretary general, a position which he says has never imagined himself in and accepted with reluctance. 

“Some individuals came and approached me and said they believed I can  do it and make a difference. I came in and served my eight years, they later said I can make a further contribution at another level.”  

“Unfortunately as an aspirant revolutionary, I’ve never wanted to be deployed in any position, the responsibilities I have had I have always been told by the branches where to go,”  

Commenting on this endorsement, the chairperson said he was humbled by such a big gesture. “What I can only say for now is that it’s humbling that some people believe that I can be in such a high esteemed position, but surely there will be an appropriate time when I will be expected to indicate whether I accept this or not. I am raising this because I respect the pecking order of the ANC,” he said. 

Mabuyane said as humbling as the endorsement is, it was equally intimidating given the challenges that the party grapples with and the kind of people seemingly in the race for the position. 

“It is intimidating and terrifying knowing the magnitude and challenges of the ANC that is going through, surely you will need the best of the best, the more promising, the more potential,” he told Daily Maverick.


Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations


Challenges

When asked to elaborate on some of the challenges the party grapples with, Mabuyane pointed to rapid decline of electoral support in the previous elections, particularly the 2021 local government elections, which saw the party get less than 50% of the votes and lose control of some of the richest metropolitan areas. 

“It is no longer about the provinces, but the national threat to the ANC.”  

In light of this, Mabuyane said the party is, “in need of collective leadership that will not be experimenting, a leadership that can understand challenges the movement is grappling with, a leadership that can come in and easily make a difference. A leadership that will be able to hit the ground running.”  

Whether he can form part of this collective, Mabuyane says he will cross that bridge during the conference. “If there are people who believe I can contribute positively in assisting the ANC to grow further and in light of what the ANC is going through. I will cross that bridge when I get there. For now, I focus on the responsibilities I have. 

“I don’t think I am ready to say anything about availability or not. ” 

Renewal  

The party has in its previous conferences spoken about the need to renew itself and get rid of members seeking power, positions and filling their pockets.  

Former president Thabo Mbeki has been among those at the forefront of criticising the progress made thus far. Last month, he said the renewal must be genuine and not for show — otherwise, the party risks further punishment from the masses, Daily Maverick reported.  

Mabuyane echoed similar sentiments and warned of the party’s erosion if a solid leadership structure was not put in place to put an end to many of the challenges the party faces. 

“If the ANC does not renew, does not turn the corner, I can tell you now it will no longer be about the electoral decline it will be actually the erosion of the ANC. All the behaviour that we currently see out there is actually authorising the demise of the ANC, so you’ve got to find a way of arresting that. You need leadership that is going to put a stop on that,” he said.  

He was not critical of the current top six leadership and the role they had played. Instead, he praised it for initiating what he dubbed a difficult exercise of renewal. 

“Yes of course the current leadership has tried, has initiated a very difficult exercise of the renewal which has been discussed in a number of conferences. There has never been discussed in a number of conferences and there’s never been a leadership that has been keen on the renewal because we all knew that renewal would be a painful exercise, difficult exercise to manage. Everyone will be labelled, the mud would be thrown to everyone…” 

In light of this, Mabuyane believes the party needs a collective and visionary leadership that will make a 90-degree turn for the ANC to be able to have a better future moving forward.   

He revealed that his fears were further exacerbated by the end of the current term of leadership, which he described as a “litmus test” for the party.   

“Having seen the ANC where it has lost state power, I fear how the ANC can recover from that. We have been battling to recover a number of municipalities and metros that we have lost. It is not an easy thing.  All those challenges create fears and make someone scared,” he said.   

Mabuyane added he stands ready to take advice from the senior leaders of the party on whether or not he should accept nomination for this position. If advised against this, he said it would not be a train smash. “I am not desperate for positions.”

Daily Maverick understands that the province has also resorted to endorsing former ANC Youth League president Andile Lungisa for the position of treasurer-general. 

It is also pushing for the name of Former Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle for the secretary general position.  

The Eastern Cape will have a significant number of delegates at the party’s national conference, which is set to take place at the end of the year. With the backing of Mabuyane, Ramaphosa could be looking at a comfortable win, Daily Maverick reported.

Nominations for the top six posts, ANC officials and National Executive Committee members were expected to take place from Wednesday 7 September until the 30th, but will likely see this process only starting next week, Daily Maverick reported. 

ANC’s national spokesperson Pule Mabe said the delay was caused by the fact that the organisation had not yet finalised the membership audit.

The nomination process, once opened, will allow for branches of the party to engage on which leaders they will be endorsing. The branches play an important role in the conference as they make up 90% of delegates at the national conference. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • David Mark says:

    But Eastern Cape is a disaster? Doesn’t that reflect on the quality of leadership the premier will bring to national? I’m still hoping that Lamola gets it, least compromised, young, and doing a decent job in his current position.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    Once again, ANC leadership all about the future of the ANC. Nothing said about how he intends serving the people and improving their lives.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The declaration of the position of Deputy President of the ANC as vacant is complete despite the incumbent DD Mabuza having declared his intentions to stand. The field consists of Lamola supposedly supported by Mpumalanga, Mamoloko Kubayi supposedly supported by her branch and her jacket, Paul Mashatile supposedly supported by Limpopo and some in the media, Oscar Mabuyane supposedly supported by the Eastern Cape. This happens despite the nomination process not being opened. It also takes place against the backdrop of the Motlanthe Conference Rules on finance. It is a non -written rule in the ANC that if you do not have the “tools of trade” you can write yourself off from achieving your ambitions because the capacity which is money and paid ground forces does not exist. So you write off Kubayi and Lamola and you remain with three candidates, DD Mabuza whose reputation is second to none as he has the resources and ground forces making any pronouncement by Provinces meaningless. Also it must be borne in mind that Provinces are very much divided this time unlike in 2017. Oscar Mabuyane for instance has only 40% of the votes going to Conference that support his ambitions. You then have Paul Mashatile and his campaign manager Masina who is breathing through the wound and they have the money but not the infrastructure and Oscar Mabuyane with 40 percent of Eastern Cape support. DD Mabuza has Limpopo and Mpumalanga irrespective of what the people in the PEC say and support in Gauteng.

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