Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane’s ANC branch in eMalahleni is “dead”, with members claiming the branch was inactive, hardly made the quorum for a branch meeting and had no programmes.
Yet somehow she managed to hold enough clout to become Mpumalanga premier.
Located in the suburbs of Modelpark, Fransville and Del Judor, the ward is under DA control.
Members have questioned how someone from an inactive branch, who never served in any ANC structure and was largely unknown in party circles, was able to ascend to the highest political office in the province.
The branch, in ward 24, has some of the Nkangala ANC regional political heavyweights, such as former eMalahleni mayor Salome Sithole, the current secretary of the branch, as well as former acting mayor Lesley Nhlapo and former provincial deputy chairperson Charles Makola.
“A branch must meet once a month to discuss its self-initiated programmes, or those from the upper structures. I do not remember when last that branch sat for a meeting,” said an ANC leader, who did not want to be named.
“If a branch fails to sit for three consecutive months, that branch is non-existent,” the person said.
Mtshweni-Tsipane had no active background in the party structures, except when she had served as ANC Women’s League regional treasurer in the Nkangala region.
“She has no support from the branches and this will be to her disadvantage in her bid for the provincial chairperson position in December. There will be two centres of power come December’s elective conference,” the top official said.
Another ANC member confirmed that the premier’s branch was indeed inactive and that the branch only sprang into action whenever there was a programme sent to them from the upper structures.
“They do not even submit reports to the region because they have nothing to report on,” he said.
Mtshweni-Tsipane has been seen as former premier David Mabuza’s appointee and proxy. She had been MEC for traditional affairs, appointed by Mabuza in 2014 when he returned for a second term as premier.
In February last year, Mabuza hand-picked Mtshweni-Tsipane to become acting premier.