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By Lunga Simelane


‘Centre not holding’ – ANC delays premier candidate announcements amid internal turmoil

While other political parties announced their premier candidates, the ruling party would name theirs only after the elections.

The ANC’s move to postpone the announcement of premier candidates shows the continuing internal conflict ahead of this year’s general elections.

While other political parties announced their premier candidates, the ruling party would name theirs only after the elections, with secretary-general Fikile Mbalula previously saying the party did not attach “significance to personality”.

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Premiers are not announced by the president but by the ANC, he said.

“With the exception of Western Cape, we will announce premiers after the elections. We have got premiers now. Our premiers are there and doing a good job.”

Independent political analyst Sanusha Naidu said the “centre in the party is not holding any more” and the ANC was trying to avoid conflict within, hence the delay.

“There’s so much political infighting, jockeying for positions and ensuring political survival.”

According to Naidu, KwaZulu-Natal, for example, was a province where the ANC had essentially become its own worst enemy.

“Because of the political assassinations, people are literally being bumped off the list.” Naidu said the position the ANC had taken gave a sense the party was “trying to take it as close to the idea of where they were going to be after the poll”.

“By not announcing its premier candidates now, it gives them breathing space to see what they would look like after the election and then come up with candidates,” she said.

“The ANC will have at least five provinces where they don’t have to go into a coalition. That means they can announce premier candidates for those provinces, but why don’t they?

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“It is because it’s politically volatile in the ANC now and there is no control or centre any more.”

Naidu said the ANC’s national executive committee was not leveraging itself to be able to coalesce and be that centre of gravity.

“So, the party essentially is unhinged. It is now like the wild, wild West for the party internally. They can’t make these decisions because they are not sure how it’s going to play out in the branches and provincial structures.

“There is a lot of vulnerability, ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty. That’s the ANC right now.” Across the nine provinces, the Democratic Alliance (DA) had announced a few of its candidates: Roy Jankielsohn as Free State candidate, Chris Pappas for KwaZulu-Natal, Solly Msimanga for Gauteng and Alan Winde for the Western Cape.

The newly formed Rise Mzansi party unveiled Vuyisa Ramokgopa as Gauteng premier candidate. ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba announced candidates for three of the country’s provinces: Thoko Mashiane in Mpumalanga, Athol Trollip for the Eastern Cape and Patricia Kopane in the Free State.

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Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said he wanted party candidates who would be going to parliament to have qualifications. He also wanted the former MPs selected to stand to detail what they did in their time in the national legislature.

Mbalula said the ANC was not a party that resurfaced two weeks ago and wanted to establish itself in society by announcing premiers.

“We have had premiers for the past 30 years in government. The ANC is an incumbent and it is the party which is challenged in its incumbency by political parties – small and big – and they announce their premier candidates,” he said.

“The ANC is the party that leads and the president of the ANC is the face of the campaign. That’s why you will not find a poster of a premier in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal or anywhere else. We have one poster, which has president Ramaphosa.”