The ANC leadership contest in North West is set to be a tight one, with premier Bushy Maape fighting for a single centre of power and for himself to be that centre.
Presently, North West has two centres – one headed by Maape as premier and another by ANC interim provincial committee (IPC) chair Hlomane Chauke.
In ANC politics, having two influential leaders at the helm is a recipe for conflict. But it will be difficult for Maape to take the chair’s portfolio because he is one of five leaders vying for the position at the next provincial conference.
The ANC veteran is up against Chauke and former provincial chairs Nono Maloyi and Supra Mahumapelo. It is understood that MEC for economic development, environment and tourism Kenetswe Mosenogi had also thrown her name into the hat.
North West, Western Cape and Gauteng are expected to hold elective provincial conferences on yet to be determined dates this month and in June, followed by KwaZulu-Natal in July.
It is important for Maape, as premier, to also win the post of ANC chair otherwise he runs the risk of being prematurely recalled by his opponents or removed after the 2024 national elections.
Maape was imposed as premier by ANC headquarters Luthuli House to replace Dr Job Mokgoro who, in turn, filled a vacuum left by Supra Mahumapelo, who was unceremoniously redeployed to the National Assembly to head the tourism portfolio committee.
But Chauke has high expectations of being elected into the position. Ousting Chauke would be a herculean task.
Interestingly, the Maape slate that circulated in the province last week excluded all the top political players and comprised mainly his provincial executive council members, such as MEC for human settlements Lenah Miga as deputy chair.
Maloyi has returned to contest the position again after years of infighting with his rival Mahumapelo, who still has a sizeable following.