President Cyril Ramaphosa bit the bullet yesterday when addressing the election of Mpumalanga’s newly appointed provincial treasurer, who stands accused of double murder.
Mpumalanga’s 13th elective conference chose Mandla Msibi as its new treasurer yesterday.
Taking to the podium, Ramaphosa told the tent full of voting delegates they needed to reflect on the election,
“During the course of your elections, you took the step of endorsing and electing one of the comrades who is facing charges. Now, I know you’ve reflected on this and you are going to do further reflection. This matter does need your reflection as a disciplined membership of this organisation.
“Your reflection must be based on the decisions that have been taken by our national conference and must also be based on the decisions that have also been at the national executive committee, which is the highest decision-making body in between conferences in the form of democratic centralism.
“I call on you to reflect on this matter because it is a matter you do need to address to reflect on but more properly set out. The NEC needs to discuss this matter because you’re not the only province that is facing this issue,” he said.
Effectively, this means Msibi will not be able to assume his duties as provincial treasurer until he concludes his case, thus creating a gap in the provincial executive committee.
Msibi faces charges of murder and attempted murder stemming from a shooting incident at a Mbombela shisanyama (buy and braai outlet) in August last year in which two people died.
NEC hotshots like justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola appeared pleased with the conference outcome and were seen grinning from ear to ear.
The conference was not without its challenges after two members of the Mpumalanga ANC tried to interdict it. However, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed the application .
ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile gave the opening remarks. Also making an appearance during the conference was fired former health minister Zweli Mkhize, who was surrounded by delegates, including NEC members.
During nominations on Saturday, Mkhize sat next to ANC organiser Nomvula Mokonyane.
Ramaphosa told conference delegates they had achieved the “golden standard” by delivering a violent-free conference, despite violence that had broken out in certain parts of Mpumalanga in the lead up to the weekend.
Security leading to the Witbank dam where the conference was held was airtight. Delegates had to go through 10 checkpoints before getting to the tent using special stickers on all three days.
On Saturday, supporters of the newly elected provincial executive committee gathered at an intersection singing Struggle songs as they waited on the PEC address and to congratulate them.
Newly elected provincial chair Mandla Ndlovu reaffirmed his support for Ramaphosa to serve as ANC president for a second term.
Ndlovu used his introduction of Ramaphosa to defend his earlier endorsement of the ANC president, saying there was no provincial chairperson who did not talk to the leader of the governing party .
“Comrade president CR, if there is a call from branches, as a true cadre of this movement, president CR accept that call, my president,” Ndlovu said.
A total of 718 delegates voted for Ndlovu and his allies. Leading up to this weekend, the group were referred to as “Focus” and was aligned to Ramaphosa’s camp.
In his closing remarks, Ramaphosa told conference delegates that “we must focus”, while chuckling. He said he deliberately chose those words as he knew the group would get excited
“I knew somehow that the word would excite you… I looked in the dictionary for another word and it wasn’t there. We must be focused and pay attention,” he said.
Speedy Mashilo was elected deputy provincial chair, beating David Nhlabathi, a David Mabuza backer. Mabuza is the country’s deputy president and former ANC Mpumalanga chair.
Muzi Chirwa was elected provincial secretary, beating Pat Ngomane, while Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, a staunch supporter of Ace Magashule (suspended ANC secretary-general), was elected deputy provincial secretary.