Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza believes that a government policy shift from social grants to one that will be geared towards business development could solve the ANC’s internal problem of jostling for positions.
Mabuza told City Press that when ANC members and the general public were empowered economically, they would not cause a “stampede” to get leadership positions in the ANC.
The stampede, Mabuza believes, precipitated political killings and was the reason the party had many presidential candidates.
Mabuza has been advocating an uncontested elective ANC conference.
He said that government allocated more money to the social security net and did little to develop small businesses. As a result, there were more unemployed people, who saw an ANC position only as their ticket to a better life.
“The challenge we face is that the ANC is no longer a movement but a governing party. Those who are deployed to government appear to be enjoying certain privileges that others do not enjoy. Therefore, everyone is rushing for those privileges. That is why we see the stampede”, Mabuza said.
THE PRESIDENT AND THE GUPTAS
Mabuza thinks President Jacob Zuma should have listened to the outcry about the Gupta family’s influence and chosen his people over them.
However, Mabuza believes that Zuma’s name could have been abused without his knowledge.
“Truly speaking, the way I know the president … the name of the president gets abused. There are many people who will go around and drop names of leaders.
“Even in this administration, many people said they were sent by me to say this and that – only to find it is not true. How many times does the president get the chance to verify such things?” he asked.
Mabuza said he had experienced individuals who had taken money using his name, but was able to find out and vindicate himself.
“If I was the president, I would have listened and said to myself: ‘The people I lead are not happy with your doings.’ But on the other side, the president might have had a point in saying: ‘Who can dictate the friends I should have?’”
THE PREMIER LEAGUE
Mabuza has denied that there was ever a faction that he, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo belonged to.
The label, Premier League, came from comrades who were worried about the trio’s “proximity” to President Jacob Zuma, he said.
Mabuza said he first heard about the Premier League after the ANC Youth League’s elective conference in 2015, when he was in hospital.
“This was a thing created to vilify us – to vilify Mabuza, Ace and Supra. That was the intention … to portray us as something else. It does not exist. If one premier phones me to ask something, I will not drop the phone. I cannot operate as an island,” he said.
Mabuza, who is currently serving his third term as ANC provincial chairperson, says he is not coming back. His second, and last, term as premier ends in 2019.
Mabuza is, however, coy about his national office ambitions, even though he has received nominations from his own and other provinces to be deputy president.
“Do I have the energy? A little bit. There’s a little that I can still give to the ANC,” he said.
But Mabuza would not refuse if the ANC branches insisted. “I have no stress. I see some going up and down [campaigning for positions]. Leadership is not something to go looking for. It’s trouble.”