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ANC general manager Fébé Potgieter remains coy on secretary-general nominations

ANC general manager Fébé Potgieter remains coy on secretary-general nominations
Fébé Potgieter at the University of South Africa launch of Dr Paul Tembe’s book, ‘Xi Jinping Thought — Through South African Eyes‘, on 11 October 2022. (Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee)

The general manager of the ANC, Fébé Potgieter, who could be in line for the secretary-general position, says the suspension of Ace Magashule and the death of former deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has had an impact on the party.

Although ANC general manager Fébé Potgieter would not be drawn on whether she was open to serving the party as a member of the top six, she did say the party would have to hold discussions during their December conference on how to ensure that the secretary-general’s office has enough support.

ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile is currently occupying three positions in the party’s top six. In addition to his treasurer-general post, he has been acting as secretary-general and deputy secretary-general since last year.

“This is the first time in the history of the ANC’s 111 years that we have had this difficulty in the secretary-general’s office, because before the deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte passed away, she was not well for quite a long period, so it has definitely had an impact.

Fébé Potgieter anc women leaders

Fébé Potgieter speaks at the University of South Africa launch of Dr Paul Tembe’s book, ‘Xi Jinping Thought — Through South African Eyes‘, on 11 October 2022. (Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee)

“The secretary-general’s office has the responsibility for keeping things going in the organisation, whereas the president is responsible for the running of government and the business of the country. Your secretary-general is responsible for your organisational structure and outward-looking approach of the movement. 

“The secretary general’s office has to ensure that it monitors the manifesto… it makes sure that the programmes and policies the organisation agreed upon are implemented and carried forward. I think, when looking at the reflections on conference about the renewal of the ANC, it will definitely have to look at how one strengthens the office,” she said.

Potgieter was speaking to Daily Maverick on the sidelines of the launch of Dr Paul Tembe’s book, “Xi Jinping Thought — Through South African Eyes”, held at Unisa’s Pretoria campus on Tuesday morning.

Potgieter has been endorsed by the Northern Cape provincial executive committee for the secretary-general position. Other senior members of the party who have been tipped to occupy this position include national executive committee members Fikile Mbalula, Senzo Mchunu, Malusi Gigaba and the secretary-general’s office coordinator, Gwen Ramokgopa.

Potgieter said she would be open to speaking about the leadership race once branch nominations had been wrapped up on 25 October.

“My position… is that we should give the branches the opportunity to nominate. We are having 3,979 branch meetings across the country and that is an opportunity for membership to reflect on who they want to represent them at conference and who they want to nominate for the NEC,” she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ANC ‘renewal’ is empty and we already have an alternative vision for South Africa

She acknowledges the growing calls from within the party for women to be elected into key positions, rather than always having to deputise for their male counterparts. If Potgieter is nominated and elected to the position, it will mark the first time the ANC has a woman running the secretary-general’s office. 

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Of the seven provinces that have held conferences, Gauteng is the only one that has more women than men in its executive. The late Jessie Duarte was the only woman elected to the ANC’s top six at the 2017 national conference.

“Part of feminist leadership and feminist transformative leadership is to look not just at the numbers, even though representation matters. There is a study that has been done by a group of young researchers in the ANC looking at this question of deputy secretaries since 1994 — most of them only served one term. The same goes for provincial and regional structures and I think this is what the national conference needs to address,” said Potgieter. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ ‘If we do not evolve now, we are going to die’ – ANC Renewal Commissioner Fasiha Hassan endorses 40% youth representation in NEC

She also supports the notion of a generational mix, which would see both younger and older, more experienced party members elected into leadership positions.

“It is an important part of where we are today, because young people need to also play a role in the ANC, ideologically, through programmes and in terms of where it needs to go in the next couple of years. Given the demographics for South Africa and Africa, we need to ensure that young people feel included,” she said.

While the ANC has been determined to renew itself, Potgieter noted that it is also important for the party to remind itself of the mission of creating a better life for all — something she said the party had stood for since 1912. DM


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  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The fact that Phumulo Masualle has been nominated by the Madikizela faction, the KZN, Limpopo faction of Mathabatha and possible support by Gauteng makes him to be in pole position as the next SG of the ANC. Any other candidate coming into play must have considerable support in at least two big provinces. Febe – Potgieter would have been an ideal deputy but there is a preference for the corrupt and incompetent Nomvula Mokonyane in Gauteng, KZN and Limpopo. Another candidate for SG who may come to play is Mdumiseni Ntuli who is viewed as a very measured and capable person who reflects the values of the ANC and is a capable person in policymaking. If KZN cannot get the Presidency they may get him in into the SG position on the horse trading towards conference. I do not see Febe getting anywhere but would be a very competent Deputy SG in the ANC for a long time but the dice is loaded against her. The Northern Cape is a very small fry in the scheme of things in the ANC Conference as they bring a a very small delegation. Their role would be to save Cyril’s skin at the Conference nothing more. The configuration of the ANC Conference has in my view two candidates confirmed, Mashatile and Masualle and all other positions are up for grabs but Mantashe is not returning after the Conference that it a sure case. Mathabatha despite accusations of missing meetings for being drunk in 2018 and slaughtering regularly goats and a sexual scandal around Florence Radzilani, a VBS fraudster, may make it in the horse trading depending on the factional split of Limpopo.

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