Saul, the previous ANC provincial secretary, was elected unopposed after his predecessor and rival, the Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, shockingly declined nomination at the provincial conference in Colesberg on Friday afternoon.
The rest of her slate also surprisingly turned down nomination.
She said she could not accept nomination despite feeling grateful for the “honour and privilege”. She has indicated that she intends to appeal the outcome of the conference within ANC structures due to what she considers electoral “irregularities”.
Observers have seen her as pro-Zuma, while Saul openly backs Ramaphosa.
Lucas’ sudden reshuffle of her executive prior to the conference seemed to be an act of revenge. Many expect that Lucas and her faction are now likely to face a purge.
Lucas reshuffled her cabinet and fired two political opponents, replacing them with loyalists on the eve of the party’s provincial conference on Wednesday.
Lucas dismissed finance, economic development and tourism MEC Mac Jack and transport and safety and liaison MEC Pauline Williams in a shock decision a day before the party’s elective conference. Jack was a chief lobbyist for Saul.
The reshuffle was interpreted by some as revenge after Lucas’ ANC faction failed to stop the conference from going ahead.
Despite Lucas’ faction’s attempt to stop the conference, it went ahead as planned.
The group cited membership audit irregularities, which included the duplication of branch memberships and cloning of members. It claimed if these problems were not corrected, it would affect the results of the elections at the conference.