Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane has dismissed claims she is Deputy President David Mabuza’s appointee and proxy, saying allegations to that effect stem from the notion that women can only attain top positions through sexual favours.
“That distortion is there and ill-informed and I personally take strong exception, because it is misleading to the community … it is even associated with the fact that whenever a woman ascends to a position of power somehow you have to go into bed with a particular man,” she said.
The premier said although sex for positions might have been the case years ago, it must be understood she was part of “another generation that did not subscribe to sex for success”.
The premier broke her silence yesterday in an interview with SABC, telling the public broadcaster that her appointment followed internal processes and her name was among three candidates sent to the ANC national executive committee (NEC), which selected her as the best candidate for the position.
She flatly denied that the deputy president, who stepped down as Mpumalanga premier when he was elected ANC deputy president, was running the province through her.
“Mabuza is not running the province, he can’t run the province. He has his own responsibilities. I am an independent woman, there is no way he can run the province,” Mtshweni-Tsipane said.
Mtshweni-Tsipane’s ascendance to the highest office in the province sparked heated debate among some ANC members, who argued she was unknown in the province, has never served in any ANC structure in the province and was not even on the provincial executive committee.
Rejection of Mtshweni-Tsipane’s appointment as premier was said to be so tense that there were threats of disrupting her inauguration ceremony, which was crawling with plain-clothed police officers.
Last year, Mabuza laid charges of crimen injuria against an ANC member in the province, Bishop Hangwi Maumela, for branding him a murderer and alleging that Mtshweni-Tsipane was his girlfriend.
Mtshweni-Tsipane was formerly MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs in the province, appointed by Mabuza in 2014 when he returned for a second term as premier.
In February last year, Mabuza hand-picked Mtshweni-Tsipane to be acting premier when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him as deputy president after the forced exit of former president Jacob Zuma.