Despite his controversy-prone personality, ANC Gauteng deputy chairperson Panyaza Lesufi is in a good position to take over from the outgoing David Makhura, said an analyst.
Makhura, who was previously secretary general, has indicated that he won’t contest for the chairmanship again, leaving the position open for the taking.
Lesufi, the province’ education MEC, will go head-to-head with provincial executive member Lebogang Maile for the most powerful ANC position in the province.
ANC members in Gauteng will elect new leaders at a conference expected to take place in June.
Both have reportedly launched their campaigns, rallying branches across a province whose voters were gradually turning their back against the governing ANC.
The party’s declining support that saw it lose control of the three metros and other municipalities present a challenge for the incoming leader.
Politics professor at North West University Andre Duvenhage, said Lesufi’s public profile is stronger than that of Maile, who is also Cogta MEC has used his public profile well, especially in his commitment to immense himself in racial conflicts, and is seen as someone who wants to end racism.
“For Lesufi, to an extend that he is followed by cameras in his work, all publicity is good publicity. For a good public profile, you need your face on camera, and he does that effectively. Lesufi plays the racial lines very well, and the incidents show how that has gained momentum in the country.
“His activism against racism is seen as negative by the white communities, but that is not his constituency. He has a stronger profile than Maile.”
He said although Maile is not as vocal as Lesufi, the ANC’s decisions could come as a shock to some.
“Maile’s profile both inside and outside the ANC might not match that of Lesufi, but through the years, we came to see how unpredictable the ANC can be. I think if Ramaphosa had a choice in this, he would choose Maile and his quiet demeanour.
“Lesufi is too controversial. The racial politics might create tensions for Ramaphosa, whose Sona speech read like a Democratic Alliance plan of action. Ramaphosa is very moderate.”
‘Ramaphosa has Gauteng’s support’
Party provincial spokesperson Bones Modise said the PEC would meet Tuesday evening, where it would receive a branch audit outcome from Luthuli House.
“We are receiving an input from headquarters which will tell us whether all the 525 branches of the ANC are ready for the regional and the provincial conference. We will only be able to pronounce on these after the meeting,” he said.
Asked whether those keen to run had been given the go-ahead to campaign, Modise said the ANC doesn’t decide a candidate’s campaign but only its own as a party.
“Individuals launch own campaigns at their own time…and it is only the branches that ultimately decide. Sometimes, the lobbying that happens at the conference result in branch delegates deciding what to do, a lot happens towards a conference.”
Makhura succeeded former chairperson Paul Mashatile in 2018 after he was elected ANC national treasurer at the Nasrec 2017 conference and headed to Luthuli House.
The outgoing provincial chairperson was elected unopposed in 2018, having held the position as an acting chairperson following Mashatile’s departure.
According to Duvenhage, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who would be seeking a second term at the December elective conference, has reasonable support in Gauteng.
“I think even during [former president] Zuma’s era, Gauteng with its even more urban population and being progressive, seemed to be more aligned to Ramaphosa.
“I expect Gauteng to endorse Ramaphosa in December. Gauteng is in contrast to other provinces such as KawZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, where the [ANC faction] RET has a stronghold.”