The long list of contenders for the position of Mpumalanga chairperson has been whittled down to only two names.
Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane will face off with acting provincial chairperson, Mandla Ndlovu, in an elective conference scheduled for December 6.
This conference will produce a successor to Deputy President David Mabuza, who was at the helm for the past nine years until he was elected to the ANC top six at Nasrec in 2017.
Mtshweni-Tsipane’s campaign has gained serious momentum and a boost with endorsement from known kingmaker, Ngrayi Ngwenya, who has been heading the Ehlanzeni region as chairperson.
Working in Mtshweni-Tsipane’s favour is the fact that she is a woman and will satisfy those who feel that it is time a woman was given a chance to lead the province for the first time in the party’s history.
The fact that she is already a premier, said insiders, would also draw more support from branches who would feel that two centres of power would work her out from the premiership.
Ngwenya’s future in the ANC has been in doubt following disciplinary action that threatened to derail the campaign if he was suspended for a lengthy period or sacked from the party.
But the ANC national disciplinary committee cleared Ngwenya following an assault charge lodged by acting provincial secretary, Lindiwe Ntshalintshali.
Ntshalintshali also pressed criminal charges after Ngwenya allegedly assaulted her at Nutting House outside Mbombela on July 17, following a dispute about the proposed names of Regional Task Team members that were to oversee the amalgamation of Ehlanzeni and Bohlabelo regions into one.
Read: Questions raised as disciplinary committee acquits ANC heavyweight accused of punching comrade
Ngwenya confirmed his support for Mtshweni-Tsipane in Nkomazi last weekend.
Addressing a gathering attended by regional and provincial executive committee members, he boasted that he was a kingmaker.
Ngwenya has been a key figure in Mpumalanga politics, working as Mabuza’s right-hand man, while also tightening his grip on Ehlanzeni region which has delivered in provincial and national conferences to make leaders.
“We can’t let the acting chairperson [Mandla Ndlovu] to divide the ANC. We also can’t allow [Ntshalintshali] to divide the ANC. [Former] President [Jacob] Zuma made it clear that in the ANC struggle there are sell-outs. Why can you be happy to suspend someone who works for the ANC day and night?” he said.
Ndlovu has been spending time in Bohlabelo region where he hails from and also making inroads in the Gert Sibande region, where it is believed regional chairperson, Muzi Chirwa, backs him.
The Bohlabela ANC Youth League has also backed his campaign.
Peter Nyoni has also agreed to step back from the race and contest the secretary position under Ndlovu’s slate.
When Mabuza became ANC deputy president, more than 10 contenders emerged to succeed him.
They have however decided to align with Mtshweni-Tsipane and Ndlovu.