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No friends of Ace: Magashule allies fail to land Free State ANC Top Five slots

No friends of Ace: Magashule allies fail to land Free State ANC Top Five slots
The newly elected Free State Top Five provincial leadership, Chairperson Mxolisi Dukwana, Provincial Deputy Chairperson Toto Makume, Provincial Secretary Polediso Motsoeneng, Provincial Deputy Secretary Dibolelo Mahlatsi and Provincial Treasurer Mathabo Leeto at the ANC provincial conference held at Imvelo Lodge outside Bloemfontein on 22 January 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

None of former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s supporters was elected to the provincial leadership at this weekend’s conference in Mangaung, reaffirming Cyril Ramaphosa’s hold on the ANC.

The 9th ANC Free State elective conference marks the end of former party secretary-general Ace Magashule’s dominance in the province after his allies failed to dethrone supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Despite his two-year suspension, Magashule had allies in the Interim Provincial Committee (IPC), including coordinator Paseka Nompondo who failed in his bid to become provincial secretary.

magashule free state dukwana

Newly elected ANC Free State provincial chairperson Mxolisi Dukwana. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

magashule free state dukwana

Delegates celebrate with newly elected ANC Free State Provincial Chairperson Mxolisi Dukwana at Imvelo Lodge outside Bloemfontein on 22 January 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The province elected its Top Five on Sunday, 22 January, after a conference marred by grievances, violence, protests and threats of litigation. The conference at the Imvelo Safari Lodge in Mangaung was attended by more than 800 delegates, 657 of whom were voting delegates.

The provincial Top Five leaders elected this weekend are:

  • Ramaphosa’s ally Mxolisi Dukwana, who has been at the helm of the IPC for two years, was elected as provincial chairperson after he garnered 346 votes against Sisi Ntombela’s 306. Ntombela is Free State premier and a staunch supporter of Magashule.
  • Toto Makume was elected as deputy chair with 346 votes against Thabo Manyoni’s 307 votes.
  • Poleliso Motsoeneng emerged victorious as provincial secretary with 349 votes, beating Nompondo’s 303 votes.
  • Dibolelo Mahlatsi clinched the deputy secretary position after getting 348 votes, beating Kenalemang Mohale’s 301 votes.
  • Mathabo Leeto was voted in as treasurer with 346 votes against Vusumuzi Tshabalala’s 304. Tshabalala is a staunch Magashule supporter.

The outcomes of the conference also reaffirm Ramaphosa’s grip on the control of the ANC countrywide.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Criminal syndicates operated in the Free State, fleeced the State and collapsed services – ANC political report

magashule free state delegates

magashule free state delegates


magashule free state

Delegates (above) celebrate the newly elected Free State ANC Top Five at the provincial conference held at Imvelo Lodge outside Bloemfontein on 22 January 2023. (Photos: Felix Dlangamandla)

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the conference, Ntombela congratulated Dukwana, but would not comment on whether she believed the elections had been free and fair.

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“I do not know, but I know there were some serious grievances from branches,” she said.

On whether she would support the court bid, Ntombela replied: “Let me just hear what is happening. I want to hear from them on what exactly happened. I will discuss with them. My main thing is that we are not here for ourselves, but for the people.”

Magashule appeared in the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday, 20 January — the same day the conference was scheduled to start. Speaking to journalists after his appearance, he claimed that processes leading up to the conference had been rigged and that those associated with him were guaranteed to lose.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Tensions in Free State could lead to ‘violence and possible loss of lives’, ANC senior leaders warn” 

Ntombela said the most critical task for the incoming chairperson would be to unite branches and get rid of factionalism ahead of the 2024 general elections, which are scheduled to take place in less than 18 months.

“A divided ANC will not be able to win 2024 elections,” she said.

Ntombela believes she fought a good fight as the position was seldom contested by women.

“It is not an easy task for a woman to stand for the chairperson position, especially in the ANC, but I told myself that I would try. I knew it was going to be difficult.”

Ramaphosa is expected to close the conference on Sunday evening. DM


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