Tension reached the highest levels within the ANC in the Northern Cape after Premier Sylvia Lucas reshuffled her cabinet and fired her two political opponents. She replaced 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 is a chief lobbyist for provincial secretary Zamani Saul, who is contesting against Lucas for the ANC chairperson position.
Jack and Williams’ portfolios had been taken by Gail Parker and Alexandra Beukes, respectively, who are both staunch Lucas backers.
The reshuffle has been 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 was expected to go ahead as planned today. Four members of Sylvin, a name for Lucas’ faction, approached lawyers to order the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) to halt the elective conference.
The group cited membership audit irregularities, which included the duplication of branch memberships and cloning of members. It said if these problems were not corrected, it would affect the results of the elections at the conference.
But earlier, ANC provincial secretary Zamani Saul said the conference would go ahead as planned on Thursday and he denied there were any irregularities in membership audit reports. The reports were approved by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe following an audit process.
The conference comes as two party factions in the province fight over who should be the provincial chairperson between Saul and provincial treasurer, Sylvia Lucas, who is also premier of the province.
The other faction is known as Zamdesh, and is led by Zamani Saul. Sylvin is led by Lucas and Alvin Botes. Zamdesh supports Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, while Sylvin is backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Members of the new cabinet are: Mr Mxolisi Sokatsha (MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture), Ms Tiny Chotelo (Nature (Conservation and Environmental Affairs), Norman Shushu (Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development), Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba (Roads and Public Works), Mrs Alexandra Beukes (Safety and Liaison), Mrs Barbara Bartlett (Education), Mrs Gail Parker (Finance, Economic Development and Tourism ), Mr Alvin Botes (Co-operative Governance Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs), Father Gift van Staden (Social Development ) and Mr Lebogang Mothlaping (Health).