There are fears the inauguration of Refilwe Mtsweni as Mpumalanga premier will be disrupted because there is widespread rejection of her appointment.
Sources claimed the tension about the issue was at boiling point and that there was talk of moving her inauguration, which was scheduled to be held at the offices of the eMalahleni local municipality, to Siyabuswa in the DR JS Moroka municipality.
Yesterday, highly placed sources in the ANC confirmed the decision to move the ceremony was considered after a group of ANC members in the province disrupted an inauguration plenary meeting on Tuesday.
“The meeting between officials from the premier’s office and eMalahleni municipality to plan the inauguration was disrupted just after it started. A group burst into the conference room and said ‘this inauguration is not going to take place’,” the source said.
A senior ANC member in Mpumalanga said there was unhappiness with Mtsweni’s nomination because she was not well known in the party’s structures and was not in the top five in the provincial executive committee (PEC).
“The feeling on the ground is that she has been imposed and this has caused division in the branches,” the source said.
An ANC member in the Thembisile Hani municipality confirmed a revolt was brewing, but could not comment further as “people’s cellphones are bugged and I fear for my safety”.
Even if the ceremony was moved to Siyabuswa, the sources said it would still be disrupted because the rejection of Mtsweni’s appointment was province-wide.
“There are engagements with branch leaders to get assurances the inauguration won’t be disrupted, but they are talking to the wrong people because it is general members who are unhappy,” another ANC source said.
Mtsweni was formerly MEC for traditional affairs in the province. She was appointed by David Mabuza in 2014 when he returned for a second term as premier. In February last year, Mabuza handpicked Mtsweni to be acting premier when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him as deputy president after the forced exit of Jacob Zuma as president.
After the elections earlier this month, the ANC said it had retained Mtsweni as premier of Mpumalanga and she would now serve a full term. The ANC in the province, Mtsweni’s office and eMalahleni municipality denied any knowledge of an impending disruption or the relocation of the inauguration.
ANC spokesperson in Mpumalanga Sasekani Manzini said the PEC recommended three names for premier to the national executive committee and Mtsweni’s came up tops.