Mpumalanga premier David “DD” Mabuza has rejected calls for a constitutional amendment that will allow expropriation without compensation — a move signalling that the Premier League may be losing a member.

Speaking on day three of the ANC’s national policy conference on Sunday, Mabuza told journalists that there was nothing wrong with the Constitution as it stood.

“On the question of land we [Mpumalanga province] think the Constitution is fine. Whatever is given in the Constitution suffices; we just think that the pace at which land [is] transferred back to owners is a bit slow,” Mabuza said.

The original composition of the Premier League faction — a grouping aligned to President Jacob Zuma — was understood to include Free State premier Ace Magashule, North West premier Supra Mahumapelo and Mabuza, representing Mpumalanga.

Together with KwaZulu-Natal these three provinces have been believed to favour Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s succession of Zuma as president.
All except Mpumalanga have called for expropriation without compensation — and a long-standing feud between Mabuza and Dlamini-Zuma may be to blame.

ANC insiders say the reason why Mabuza is reluctant to be associated with the Dlamini-Zuma faction is because of her treatment of his long-time friend, Mpumalanga tycoon Robert Gumede.

In 2010, during Dlamini-Zuma’s term as home affairs minister, the department cancelled a multibillion-rand tender with Gumede’s IT company Gijima, which had been contracted to overhaul the home affairs infrastructure.

The company allegedly failed to deliver an integrated electronic database to improve security and speed up previous manual application processes. Tendered at R1.9-billion, costs escalated to R4.5-billion over five years.

Some in the Premier League still insist that Mabuza will be on their side once the succession race is opened for nominations. But, speaking to journalists at the Nasrec Expo centre, Mabuza again indicated pulling out of the league, saying he had turned his back on factions.

“Factionalism is one thing that visited the ANC and I once participated in a faction,” he said. “Remember when we went to Polokwane? We had factions. When we went to Mangaung, we had factions. And that has left the ANC more and more poor. So we want to do away with it.”

The policy conference acts as a sounding board for the December elective conference.

Policy alignment is likely to give an indication of which candidate each province supports, between the radical-talking Dlamini-Zuma or the measured deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mpumalanga is seen as a kingmaker province, with Mabuza as deputy president on the preliminary slates of both the Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa groups.

Though Mpumalanga has not supported the radical calls for a constitutional amendment on land, it has also not taken the measured approach of Gauteng, which rejected the use of the term “white monopoly capital”, instead saying “there is no colour” to monopoly capital.

This indicates that while the province may be pulling away from the Premier League, it has not fully warmed to the pro-Ramaphosa grouping either.